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PEN America & Lush Cosmetics Present The Banned Book Library

May 11, 11 am6 pm.
Lush Book Ban Installation (1)

Join PEN America and Lush Cosmetics in Union Square for the Banned Book Library, an interactive free public art installation detailing the rise in book bans across the United States. PEN America and Lush Cosmetics staff will be onsite to share information on the recent rise in book bans.

Censorious legislation in states across the country has been driving the removal of books in public schools and local libraries. Since PEN America started tracking public school book bans in July 2021, we have recorded more than 4,000 instances of banned books through December 2022, affecting 2,253 unique titles. This includes 1,477 individual book bans affecting 874 unique titles during the first half of the 2022-23 school year.

Brought to Union Square and Astor Place Plaza by Lush Cosmetics and PEN America, this public art activation gives New Yorkers the opportunity to understand the breadth of this crisis; the threats to free expression, the attempts to sanitize history, and the efforts remove the very books that have long fought for a place on the shelf – books by African Americans and authors of color, by LGBTQ+ authors and women. Visitors exploring the library will have access to more than 60 banned books by BIPOC and LGBTQ+ authors; a map highlighting the states that have implemented +2500 book bans and legislation impacting educators in the last 18 months; and the opportunity to learn more about the growing movement to defend the freedom to read.