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On August 22, 2023, the Hoboken Public Library Board of Trustees voted unanimously to designate the Hoboken Public Library a book sanctuary. On September 6, 2023, the City of Hoboken became the first book sanctuary city in New Jersey. As of May 2024, 23 library systems and 4 municipalities in New Jersey are book sanctuaries [MAP].

Interested in learning more? Read on!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a book sanctuary?

A book sanctuary is a space where access to books and the right to read them are at the forefront of its mission. It is a local measure that libraries and individuals can take to protect a basic right of a democratic society: intellectual freedom and our right to read.

How does a library become a book sanctuary?

The governing body of the library adopts a formal resolution designating its status as a book sanctuary (examples below). Chicago Public Library, the first book sanctuary, offers resources and a free toolkit at https://www.booksanctuary.org.

Does being a book sanctuary preclude book challenges?

Libraries have long-established policies and procedures that allow library users to submit their concerns about the appropriateness of materials in its collections. The book sanctuary resolution ensures that challenges follow these procedures, underscoring the library’s commitment to upholding the First Amendment rights of all citizens and ensuring equitable access to information.

Can I start a book sanctuary if I don't work at a library?

Yes! Anyone can start a book sanctuary. It can be as simple as a bookshelf in the corner of your kitchen, in a laundromat, barbershop, or even a free little library.

Are there any costs with this?

None! You can start with the books you already have.

What commitment does a library need to make to be a book sanctuary?

A book sanctuary commits to doing at least one of the following: collecting and protecting endangered books; making those books broadly accessible; hosting book talks and events on banned books; educating others on the history of book bans and burning.

Does being a book sanctuary override any of a library's collection development guidelines?

Not at all. A book sanctuary resolution is not a policy.

What kind of reactions have libraries received from the community after becoming a book sanctuary?

Overwhelmingly positive! Poll after poll show that most Americans oppose book bans. These resolutions are statements and affirmations of who are as a community.

Who can I contact to get more information?

Email Jennie Pu at director@hobokenlibrary.org. She is more than happy to talk to anyone about book sanctuaries – and libraries!

Where are the Book Sanctuaries?

Book Sanctuaries in New Jersey (current as of May 2024)

Book Sanctuaries nationwide

  • According to Chicago Public Library, there are over 3,000 book sanctuaries in all 50 states.
  • Urban Libraries Council

Book Sanctuary Resolutions

Hoboken Public Library Board of Trustees Resolution

Sister Library Resolution with Paris-Bourbon County Library (KY)

Updated 4.22.24

All Hoboken Public Library locations will be closed on Sunday, May 26 & Monday, May 27 for Memorial Day.
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