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Library Advocacy

The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) provides a collaborative foundation within the community for all Prince Georgians to create the world they want to see. Community members have an important role to play in championing the essential services and programs that the PGCMLS provides to enhance life in Prince George’s County. Together, the Library, Board of Library Trustees, PGCMLS Foundation, friends groups, and customers shape the future of PGCMLS by sharing stories, strengthening relationships with partners, and celebrating the transformational work the Library carries out each day.

Rock Banned Books

Rock Banned Books - Obama

The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System (PGCMLS) partnered with former President Barack Obama and the Obama Foundation in a national campaign with libraries to promote the freedom to read, featuring a video that includes the Library’s year-round Rock Banned campaign. The video by PGCMLS, shared on TikTok and Instagram, features staff and customers at PGCMLS branch libraries with a selection of favorite banned books. The video, shared on TikTok and Instagram, has generated more than 315,000 Instagram views as of March 2024.

PGCMLS launched its award-winning Rock Banned campaign in 2022 to build public awareness among residents about the importance of the freedom to read as staff and programs were targeted online, branches were vandalized, and programs were disrupted because of the library's visible commitment to Black Lives Matters and the LGBTQ+ community. The same year the campaign started, the ALA documented 1,269 challenges to library books and materials, the highest number since it began compiling the data more than 20 years ago and nearly double the number of challenges from the year before. Nationally, the challenges in 2022 targeted 2,571 unique titles, many either by or about members of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as by or about Black or Indigenous communities, and people of color.

Watch the Video

Banned and Challenged Books 

 Library association reports record number book ban attempts in 2023

Unite Against BookBans logo

The American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has released new data documenting book challenges throughout the United States, finding that challenges of unique titles surged 65% in 2023 compared to 2022 numbers, reaching the highest level ever documented by ALA.

Read the Full Announcement

Follow Unite Against Book Bans on social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram 

Check the updated Unite Against Book Bans website for more information. 

PGCMLS believes that every story deserves to be told, and each reader should be trusted to make their own decisions about what to read.

71% of voters oppose efforts to remove books from public libraries.

Full poll results and key findings available via the American Library Association.

The Office of Intellectual Freedon (OIF) documented 4,240 unique book titles targeted for censorship, as well as 1,247 demands to censor library books, materials, and resources in 2023. Four key trends emerged from the data gathered from 2023 censorship reports:

  • Pressure groups in 2023 focused on public libraries in addition to targeting school libraries. The number of titles targeted for censorship at public libraries increased by 92% over the previous year, accounting for about 46% of all book challenges in 2023; school libraries saw an 11% increase over 2022 numbers.
  • Groups and individuals demanding the censorship of multiple titles, often dozens or hundreds at a time, drove this surge.
  • Titles representing the voices and lived experiences of LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC individuals made up 47% of those targeted in censorship attempts.
  • There were attempts to censor more than 100 titles in each of these 17 states: Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Titles Challenged in Public Schools and Libraries During 2023

  • Attempts to censor books during this period: 938
  • Total titles challenged in those attempts: 9,021.
  • Unique titles: 4,240.

* A challenge may result in access being retained, restricted, or revoked at a school or public library.

Books broaden readers' perspectives. Books reach across boundaries and build connections between readers. Censorship divides communities and creates barriers. Book bans deny readers the opportunity to expand their horizons and encounter new perspectives.

Books are tools for understanding complex issues. When books are banned from libraries and schools, students cannot access critical information to help them understand themselves and the world around them. Parents lose the opportunity to engage in teachable moments with their kids, and communities lose the opportunity to learn and build mutual understanding. Limiting young people's access to books does not protect them from life's complex and challenging issues.

Books give readers and families the freedom of choice. Reading opens doors to new ideas and experiences. Each reader should be trusted to make their own decisions about what to read. Librarians and educators are trained to make all kinds of knowledge and ideas available so that people have the freedom to choose what to read. These professionals respect the rights of parents to decide which book their children are exposed to, and work closely with parents to help them decide the best books for their children.

Most Challenged Books

The Prince George's County Memorial Library System was recently awarded $2.2 million in the FY24 federal budget to obtain and launch "Rover: Library 2Go," a new mobile library unit that will provide internet access, multilingual library services, immigrant and refugee support, and job search and career assistance throughout Prince George’s County, with a focus on areas that do not have current access (via public transportation and walking) to a permanent neighborhood branch library. This opportunity was made possible by Representative Anthony Brown (MD-4) and Senator Chris Van Hollen through their FY24 community project program. Additional support from community members like you demonstrated the need for this important resource.

Library customers are encouraged to contact their federal representatives to thank them for supporting federal budget increases for libraries. Please contact your legislators today using the American Library Association’s engagement website or calling their offices (see phone numbers for the House and Senate). Prince George’s County’s federal representatives in the 118th Congress are:

State and Local Advocacy

State and Local Advocacy

The 2024 Session of the General Assembly of Maryland takes place from January 10-April 8, 2024. The statewide public library community engages with state lawmakers year-round to promote awareness of the work of local public libraries. Maryland Library Legislative Day (February 13) is an annual event that brings library leaders and advocates together with lawmakers in Annapolis to discuss important legislative issues. In 2024, public libraries are advocating for increasing per capita funding for the Maryland State Library Resource Center, supporting the Freedom to Read Act to codify professional statewide standards for libraries, and more.

Prince George’s County Budget 

The Prince George’s County government approved the Library’s FY24 operating budget on May 25, 2023. The budget includes funding for increased staff compensation and operating costs, and more. Thank County Executive Alsobrooks and the Prince George’s County Council for their support of PGCMLS.

Find your county elected representatives.

FY 24 county budget page for all departments

Prince George’s County FY24 Budget Portal

Advocacy Resources

Community Feedback

"Just wanted to thank Greenbelt Branch Library staff for the great book bundle - these picks are a hit!!"
"Big supporter/fan of my local @PGCMLS and all they are doing to keep staff safe while providing curbside service."
"Just got back from a curbside pickup. Oxon Hill staff were super helpful, as always."
"I miss hanging out at my local library so much! I hope all of you are well and I can’t wait to get books in person again!"
"Thank you for the work you do to keep resources available to patrons and the creative ways you are reaching out to encourage all to take advantage of they online programs you offer."
"I have been using the curbside pickup. I would not ask for better service. Not only that, but the efficiency and the kindness of the entire staff, from the people who put the books out to the guard, are noteworthy. Wonderful experience all around. Thank you."
"The library has been a consistent, reliable resource for me and my family to meet our academic, social and personal development needs. And the librarians are the BEST!!!!! Over the last 20 years I'm come to know many of the librarians and they've always been extremely helpful. The children's programming is amazing. And the ease of use of online services. For all these reasons I love and appreciate the services of PGCMLS."
"I love the Prince George's library system. A lot of thought went into your offerings and I, for one, and very grateful. I use your audiobook and ebook collection heavily. And while using the actual libraries is not an option right now when it is back on offer I will be there!"
"We really relied on the library curbside pickup services and digital services during this pandemic, especially this winter when outdoor activities were hard to plan for our elementary school aged kids. We appreciate the libraries and librarians stepping it up during this time of need and tirelessly serving their communities!"

PGCMLS Foundation

PGCMLS Foundation Store