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Ottawa Public Library’s Book Sanctuary

Thursday, February 15, 2024

OTTAWA- With Freedom to Read Week coming up, Ottawa Public Library (OPL) has created a Book Sanctuary for challenged titles to underscore the importance of intellectual freedom. Starting today, members of the public can consult the Book Sanctuary on the OPL website and visit a display at the Main branch to explore titles in Ottawa Public Library’s book sanctuary.  

A Book Sanctuary is a physical or digital space (in the case of OPL, both!) that actively promotes freedom to read — by sheltering challenged titles, the sanctuary provides access to these “endangered” books. The Book Sanctuary movement has grown across North America in the last two years: the first Book Sanctuary location, at the Chicago Public Library, sparked a movement that now includes 1,000 sites across North America, including more than a dozen public libraries. 

OPL’s Book Sanctuary includes adult, teen, and children’s books that have been challenged at OPL or at other libraries across North America. Titles were chosen based on several criteria: publication date (historical and current), language (French and English), audience (adult, teen, and children), as well as range of frequently challenged topics and diverse perspectives. The selection of titles in the OPL Book Sanctuary will be updated annually given that book challenges continue. Book challenges are challenges to freedom of information, freedom of expression and attempts to limit the right to read.  

Chief Librarian/CEO of OPL Sonia Bebbington emphasized the importance of the public library in protecting intellectual freedom. “OPL welcomes respectful, open, and transparent discussions about intellectual freedom, and aims to ensure a balance of perspectives in its collections. We invite clients to explore, question, and engage with the ideas represented in the OPL Book Sanctuary during Freedom to Read Week, and every day.” 

Clients can access OPL’s Book Sanctuary Book Sanctuary | Ottawa Public Library ( online throughout the year. Clients can also view a display at the OPL’s Main branch (120 Metcalfe St.).