• Sotheby’s
    Fine Books from a Distinguished Private Library
    28 November 2023
    Sotheby’s, Nov. 28: Captain Thomas Brown | Illustrations of the American ornithology. £80000-120000
    Sotheby’s, Nov. 28: William Hamilton | Campi phlegraei. £40000-60000
    Sotheby’s, Nov. 28: Nicola Zabaglia and Domenico Fontana | Castelli, e ponti con alcune ingegnose pratiche. £6000-8000
    Sotheby’s, Nov. 28: Bible, German | Nuremberg: Koberger, 1483. £40000-60000
    Sotheby’s, Nov. 28: Bible, English | King James version. £8000-12000
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th November, 2023
    Forum Auctions, Nov. 30: Saint Jerome penitent, woodcut with contemporary hand-colouring and letterpress text beneath, [Augsburg], [Johann Froschauer], [c.1498]. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum Auctions, Nov. 30: Elimithar (Elluchasem) "Ibn Butlan". Tacuini sanitatis, first edition, Strasbourg, Johann Schott, 1531. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum Auctions, Nov. 30: [Missale Romanum], Latin, Incipit ordo missalis secundum consuetudinem Curiae Romani, manuscript in Latin, on vellum, 234ff. [c. 1400]. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th November, 2023
    Forum Auctions, Nov. 30: Foyle copy.- [Shakespeare (William)]. Macbeth. A Tragedy: With all the Alterations, Amendments, Additions, and New Songs. As it is now Acted at the Theatre Royal, for Hen. Herringman, 1687. £5,000 to £7,000.
    Forum Auctions, Nov. 30: Dickens (Charles). A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, first edition, first impression, first issue, Chapman & Hall, 1843. £12,000 to £18,000.
    Forum Auctions, Nov. 30: Lawrence (T.E.) Revolt in the Desert, working draft typescript, 1927. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th November, 2023
    Forum Auctions, Nov. 30: Hampstead Bindery.- Phillips (Stephen). Marpessa, exquisitely bound by The Hampstead Bindery, almost certainly P.A. Savoldelli, 1900. £6,000 to £8,000.
    Forum Auctions, Nov. 30: Matisse (Henri).- Joyce (James). Ulysses, one of 1500 copies, this one of 250 signed by the author and artist, New York, The Limited Editions Club, 1935. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum Auctions, Nov. 30: Burroughs (Edgar Rice). Tarzan at the Earth's Core, first edition, signed presentation inscription from the author to his son, New York, 1930. £5,000 to £7,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th November, 2023
    Forum Auctions, Nov. 30: Fitzgerald (F. Scott). Tender is the Night, first edition, first printing, signed by the author, New York, 1934. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum Auctions, Nov. 30: Fleming (Ian).- Hooks (Mitchell) and David Chasman. Dr. No, British film poster, Stafford & Co Ltd, [1962]. £10,000 to £15,000.
    Forum Auctions, Nov. 30: America.- California.- Palou (Francisco). Relacion Historica de la Vida Y Apostolicas Tareas delVenerable Padre Fray Junipero Serra..., first edition, second issue, 1787. £6,000 to £8,000.
  • Swann
    Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books
    December 7, 2023
    Swann, Dec. 7: Samuel Augustus Mitchell, A New Map of Texas, Oregon and California with the Regions Adjoining, Philadelphia, 1846. $3,500 to $5,000.
    Swann, Dec. 7: 17th–19th-century case maps of various locations. $1,500 to $2,000.
    Swann, Dec. 7: Andreas Cellarius, Haemisphaerium Stellatum Boreale Cum Subiecto Haemisphaerio Terrestri, celestial chart, Amsterdam, 1708. $2,500 to $3,500.
    Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books
    December 7, 2023
    Swann, Dec. 7: Vincenzo Coronelli, Set of engraved gores for Coronelli’s monumental 42-inch terrestrial globe, Venice, circa 1688–97. $18,000 to $22,000.
    Swann, Dec. 7: Lucas Janszoon Waghenaer, group of four navigational charts, Antwerp, 1580s. $2,000 to $3,000.
    Swann, Dec. 7: Thomas Bros, Block Book of Berkeley, Oakland, 1920s. $800 to $1,200.
    Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books
    December 7, 2023
    Swann, Dec. 7: John Nieuhoff & John Ogilby, An Embassy from the East-India Company of the United Provinces, map of China, plan of Canton, London, 1673. $1,200 to $1,800.
    Swann, Dec. 7: Frederick Sander, Reichenbachia, St. Albans, 1888-1894. $5,000 to $7,000.
    Swann, Dec. 7: Two early illustrated works on horsemanship and breeding, Nuremberg, early 18th century. $700 to $800.
    Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books
    December 7, 2023
    Swann, Dec. 7: John Gould, A Monograph of the Ramphastidae, or Family of Toucans. Supplement to the First Edition, London, 1834; 1855. $40,000 to $60,000.
    Swann, Dec. 7: John Pinkerton, A General Collection of the Best and Most Interesting Voyages and Travels in All Parts of the World, London, 1808–14. $1,500 to $2,500.
    Swann, Dec. 7: Oakley Hoopes Bailey, Hackensack, New Jersey, Boston, 1896. $800 to $1,200.
    Valuable Books and Manuscripts
    London auction
    13 December
    Find out more
    Christie’s, Explore now
    TREW, Christoph Jacob (1695–1769). Plantae Selectae quarum imagines ad exemplaria naturalia Londini in hortus curiosorum. [Nuremberg: 1750–1773]. £30,000–40,000
    Christie’s, Explore now
    VERBIEST, Ferdinand (1623–88). Liber Organicus Astronomiae Europaeae apud Sinas restituate. [Beijing: Board of Astronomy, 1674]. £250,000–350,000
    Christie’s, Explore now
    PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF ALICE & NIKOLAUS HARNONCOURT. Master of Jean Rolin (active 1445–65). Book of Hours, use of Paris, in Latin and French, [Paris, c.1450–1460]. £120,000–180,000
    Christie’s, Explore now
    A SILVER MICROSCOPE. Probably by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723), c.1700. £150,000–250,000
    Christie’s, Explore now
    C.1311. £100,000–150,000

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2022 Issue

Young People the Focus of Book Banning as Culture Wars Heat Up in Schools and Libraries

The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom says these are the Top 10 Most Challenged Books for 2021.

This year was not your standard Banned Book Week; it was Banned Book Week on steroids.

Every September the American Library Association (ALA) hosts an annual event when libraries, bookstores and bookish media around the country trot out the list or lists of what is currently twisting the panties of the local Watch and Ward Societies. If you’re looking for what set people off this year you won’t go wrong if you answer sex, gender and race related fiction and non-fiction targeting young teens.

The ALA reported 729 challenges to library, school and university materials and services in 2021, resulting in more than 1,597 individual book challenges or removals. This represents the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling these lists 20 years ago. Most targeted books were for a teen audience and were by or about Black or LGBTQIA+ persons.” (That acronym keeps getting longer; the initials stand for: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual. To that designation some have added “2S+” for “two spirits” - so now it’s sometimes written LGBTQIA2S+, an even bigger mouthful.)

It’s old news that some people out there want to ban books, but what’s new this year is the drive to censor, limit, burn and criminalize certain kinds of content has reached new and epic proportions with the focus on teen and young adults. Another leading bone of contention is teaching about race and slavery. Anything that even remotely references those topics is labeled CRT (Critical Race Theory). To the surprise of no one, Texas leads the way to cleanse the shelves, followed by all the usual suspects in all the other usual states. Click on the video links at the end of this article to view some of the specifics.

It is doubtful that a lot of of the people demanding the withdrawal of certain titles or genres have even seen, much less read, the material they are so loudly condemning, especially since few of the books cited in the ALA top ten are ranked higher than #1,000 on the Amazon best seller lists and some are ranked as low as #3,982,570. What is new news is that those who oppose these and other books are doing it in an organized, systematic and ideological fashion.

As PEN America points out, this isn’t about books, it’s political. “The surge in book bans is a result of a network of local political and advocacy groups targeting books with LGBTQ+ characters and storylines, and books involving characters of color,” said Suzanne Nossel, chief executive officer of PEN America.

"While we think of book bans as the work of individual concerned citizens, our report demonstrates that today's wave of bans represents a coordinated campaign to banish books being waged by sophisticated, ideological and well-resourced advocacy organizations."

PEN’s lengthy report concludes: “The unprecedented flood of book bans in the 2021–22 school year reflects the increasing organization of groups involved in advocating for such bans, the increased involvement of state officials in book-banning debates, and the introduction of new laws and policies. More often than not, current challenges to books originate not from concerned parents acting individually but from political and advocacy groups working in concert to achieve the goal of limiting what books students can access and read in public schools…”

While statements from organizations like ALA and PEN America give a broad overview of the situation, they miss much of the more personal narratives and the impact that these culture wars collisions have on individual librarians and teachers. One well reported situation in Louisiana portrays librarians Cara Chance and Amanda Jones entangled in a long running battle with their local library board. It’s not just their jobs, but also their reputations and even personal safety that has been drawn into the fray.

A recent NPR story quotes Jones’s testimony at a board meeting,’"Hate and fear disguised as moral outrage have no place in Livingston Parish,"’ she said

According to NPR,“Though 19 other people spoke up against censorship at the meeting, Jones's speech got all the attention. She's won several national Librarian-of-the-Year awards and is currently president of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians. But she was completely unprepared for what happened.

‘"A few days later,"’ she said, ‘"I open the internet and there were pictures of me, awful memes, saying I advocate teaching erotica and pornography to 6-year-olds. It gave my school's name. None of that is true. I gave a blanket speech on censorship. And they decided they wanted to make me a target."’

"They" is Citizens for a New Louisiana — the same group behind the conservative takeover of the Lafayette library board. The group has harshly criticized Jones on its Facebook page — which has 19,000 followers — for defending books they consider obscene and inappropriate for children.”

The same kind of stress is noted by the Guardian, in a September article it wrote: “For many librarians, the stress has become unbearable. Increasing numbers are complaining of sleepless nights, quitting their jobs and setting their social media accounts to private in order to protect themselves from the deluge of harassment and humiliation tactics. More than two-thirds of respondents to the 2022 Urban Library Trauma Study said they had encountered violent or aggressive behavior from patrons at their library.”

The Guardian piece goes on to say: “The proliferation of book challenges across the nation is partly because anti-book activists’ rallying cries are easier than ever to heed. Moms for Liberty, one of the conservative parent groups that arose during the pandemic to fight mask mandates, maintains a website with a step-by-step guide for challenging books, called its “Guide to Defending Your Child”.

“Moms for Liberty member Emily Maikisch also started the website BookLooks.org, where parents can find reviews of supposedly offensive materials that can be copied and pasted into emails to school principals. The homepage features an illustration of a rosy-cheeked teenage girl levitating in a trancelike state as she reads a book. Titles that have received a mini-review include Slaughterhouse-Five (“This book contains explicit violence including animal cruelty; inexplicit sexual activities including beastiality [sic]; sexual nudity; profanity; and inflamatory [sic] religious commentary”) and Lolita (“contains sexual activities involving pedophilia; sexual nudity; and mild profanity”).

“Such materials enable conservative activists to submit multiple challenges to multiple institutions, sometimes across state lines.’“Their infrastructure has grown exponentially,”’ Peter Bromberg, associate director of EveryLibrary, said of the cluster of conservative organizations behind the movement. ‘“All it takes is three parents who connect on Facebook and say: ‘We’ll go to the library meeting and present a list of 325 books that need to be pulled immediately.’”

“Conservative parent groups such as Moms for Liberty, No Left Turn in Education and Parents Defending Education aren’t the only ones invested in the fight against books by Black and LGBTQ+ authors. Rightwing extremist groups have also adopted the cause. Proud Boys have taken to storming into Drag Queen Story Hour events, for instance, causing serious fear for patrons and librarians.

‘“There’s all this pent-up anger, and it’s gotten scarier,”’ said Natalie Brant, a reference librarian at the state library in Salem, Oregon. Brant has seen an influx of visits from sovereign citizens, an anti-government movement rooted in conspiracy theories. Members frequently request enormous stacks of materials pertaining to the history of laws that they are looking to challenge. ‘“They come with requests that can help them make up lawsuits or just clog up everyone’s time and energy and create chaos,”’ Brant said. “My anxiety is growing but I feel worse for my colleagues. We recently had active shooter trainings.”’

‘“The stress level is at its apex,”’ said Jesse O’Dunne, a Seattle youth services librarian. ‘“There’s a rise in rhetoric of librarians as villains. Conservatives are casting the profession as people who are out to promote critical race theory or the evils of transitioning.”’

O’Dunne says his cohort was already under duress from working on the frontlines during the pandemic, putting their safety at risk and facing a rise in patrons who require help with substance abuse and mental health issues. “There’s a social work component folded into the job that we weren’t formally trained for,” said O’Dunne.

“Nor were they trained to face the tide of anti-book activists. ‘“At library science school, I learned about intellectual freedom and book policies and selection policies, but it’s all theory-based,”’ said Conrrado Saldivar, president of the Wyoming Library Association.‘“These classes don’t teach us how to deal with the emotional impact of being at a public meeting that is being recorded, or dealing with what happens [when] somebody will walk in with a list in their hands and go searching for the titles and take pictures of supposedly offensive or harmful materials.”’

So what are these incendiary books?


There are the regular garden variety banned books such as: The Color Purple,The Great Gatsby, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Lord of the Flies, Of Mice and Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Maus and the ever popular, ever controversial To Kill a Mockingbird. All old hat in the current scheme of things. And then there is the current ALA Top Ten with a heavy emphasis on the sexuality and gender identification of teens and young people.


The Current Top Ten Challenged Books for 2021

According to the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom. The best seller rankings are from Amazon.com and can be found for each title in the “Product Detail” section. Some of these books have multiple editions and formats and their rankings may vary from what is shown here. These ratings were compiled on September 22, 2022 and may have changed somewhat since then. Here is the ALA release with reasons why the 10 books on the list were challenged.


1. Gender Queer (2019)

Best Sellers Rank: #1,126 in Books


2. Lawn Boys,(2019)

Best Sellers Rank: #3,581 in Books


3. All Boys Aren’t Blue, (2020)

Best Sellers Rank: #1,522 in Books


4. Out of Darkness (2015)

Best Sellers Rank: #65,394 in Books


5. The Hate You Give (2022)

Best Sellers Rank: #2,225 in Books


6. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2009)

Best Sellers Rank: #1,018 in Books

7. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2012)

Best Sellers Rank: #1,436,156 in Books

8.The Bluest Eyes (1994)

Best Sellers Rank: #3,982,570 in Books

9. This Book is Gay (2015)

Best Sellers Rank: #266,713 in Books

10. Beyond Magenta (2014)

Best Sellers Rank: #196,606 in Books

Fortunately a few cooler heads are around to offer alternatives to all the sturm und drang. One notable and creative work-around came from the Brooklyn Public Library ; its Books-Unbanned campaign offers free access to its collection and waives the non-resident fee for any young person nationwide who might want to access its collection for these and other titles.

Other fight back actions come from sites like bookriot.com. Here, somewhat edited, are some of their suggestions:

1. Show up to your local public library and borrow — and read — books that have been banned in the last year…Once you read one of these books, leave a review on as many consumer-facing sites as possible. Books like these are being bombed by censors; this is an easy and effective way to push back.


2. Request your public library purchase books that are about subjects that interest you including those that deal with race, gender and sexuality. Most libraries have a form on their website or at the reference desk to do this.


3. Plan to attend your local school board meeting and speak in support of books that represent your values.


4. Write a letter to your local newspaper and lawmakers opposing the banning of books and supporting first amendment rights to free speech.


5. Find out when school board and library board elections are in your area and make a plan to vote. Research the candidates and if you are unsure where they stand on issues of censorship, reach out to their campaigns and ask.


6. Make a monetary donation to organizations that oppose censorship.


Here are a few videos vividly showing dramatic current trends:


This YouTube from Idaho has the chilling title: “Armed Activists Show Up to Library and Demand They Ban Books.” CNN ran this report in Sept. 2022; it got over a million views.


Here’s a video from a Virgina school board meeting in mid-2021 titled “Pandemonium in Virginia” where parents vocally protest that their children are being indoctrinated with the dreaded CRT virus. Imagine the idea that that racism in America is structural and that teaching the history of slavery and its repercussions will damage their young? A longer clip from Vice News emphasizes just how widespread and coordinated the banning activities have become.


And finally, an even longer and detailed segment from Daily Show. Host Trevor Noah provides many specifics while at the same time giving the situation a humorous spin, but you know, it really isn’t funny. It’s ten minutes, but worth your time to watch.



Reach RBH writer Susan Halas at wailukusue@gmail.com

Posted On: 2022-10-01 20:55
User Name: keeline

I am sure that no one wishes an outsider to tell them how to do their job, particularly when it is in a career that involves an advanced education. However, the accounts of Banned Books Week are usually descriptions of outside groups wishing that books be restricted from circulation to readers of a certain age.

However, what is seldom, if ever, mentioned is that librarians themselves have a very long history of systematic banning of books. This was done in an organized way with lists of books "not to be circulated" shared in regional and national library journals. Some of these efforts go back to the 1890s and continue to the 1990s.

Often these books were excluded from library collections not because they were dangerous or even that they were badly written. Instead the main factors were the publishers who issued them and the fact that the books, in one large group of cases, were published in series.

By series books I mean the books of the Nancy Drew or Tom Swift variety. These are books read by millions of children over a century or more (Tom Swift began in 1910, Nancy Drew in 1930).

Over the century in question there were several librarians who made a point of taking their role as gatekeepers to an extreme level. Sometimes these efforts received negative editorial reaction from people who remembered reading the books in question and complained that they were being removed from being available to future generations of young readers. Among other librarians, these actions were generally lauded.

It is not possible to give a full account here or illustrate with examples of the articles. But for anyone who may be interested, please see my blog entry from a few years ago.


I won't claim that these books were the pinnacles of literature. But I would say that for their decades of issuance, they were not especially harmful. In retrospect there may be some stereotypes but this is true for literature from any author.

We are told not to judge a book by its cover. What does it say when books are judged solely by their genre without considering their individual merits or demerits?

Librarians are just as likely to censor (not shelve or circulate) books as any other group.

James D. Keeline

Rare Book Monthly

  • Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Roberts (David) & Croly (George). The Holy Land, Syria, Idumae, Arabia, Egypt and Nubia. Lond. 1842 - 1843 [-49]. First Edn. €10,000 to €15,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Incunabula: O'Fihily (Maurice). Duns Scotus Joannes: O'Fihely, Maurice Abp… Venice, 20th November 1497. €8,000 to €12,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: An important file of documents with provenance to G.A. Newsom, manager of the Jacob’s Factory in Dublin, occupied by insurgents during Easter Week 1916. €6,000 to €9,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: WILDE (Oscar), 1854-1900, playwright, aesthete and wit. A lock of Wilde’s Hair, presented by his son to the distinguished Irish actor Mícheál MacLiammóir. €6,000 to €8,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Heaney (Seamus). Bog Poems, London, 1975. Special Limited Edition, No. 33 of 150 Copies, Signed by Author. Illus. by Barrie Cooke. €4,000 to €6,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Binding: Burke, Thomas O.P. (de Burgo). Hibernia Dominicana, Sive Historia Provinciae Hiberniae Ordinis Praedicatorum, ... 1762. First Edition. €4,000 to €6,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: COLLINS, Michael. An important TL, 29 July 1922, addressed to GOVERNMENT on ‘suggested Proclamation warning all concerned that troops have orders to shoot prisoners found sniping, ambushing etc.’. €3,000 to €4,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Scott Fitzgerald (F.) The Great Gatsby, New York (Charles Scribner's Sons) 1925, First Edn. €2,000 to €3,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Yeats (W.B.) The Poems of W.B. Yeats, 2 vols. Lond. (MacMillan & Co.) 1949. Limited Edition, No. 46 of 375 Copies Only, Signed by W.B. Yeats. €1,500 to €2,000.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Miller (William) Publisher. The Costume of the Russian Empire, Description in English and French, Lg. folio London (S. Gosnell) 1803. First Edn. €1,000 to €1,500.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Miller (William) Publisher. The Costume of Turkey, Illustrated by a Series of Engravings. Lg. folio Lond.(T. Bensley) 1802. First Edn. €800 to €1,200.
    Fonsie Mealy’s, Dec. 12-13: Mason (Geo. Henry). The Costume of China, Illustrated with Sixty Engravings. Lg. folio London (for W. Miller) 1800. First Edn. €1,400 to €1,800
  • ABAA VBF: Holiday Edition
    November 30-December 2
    ABAA VBF: Holiday Edition
    November 30-December 2
    ABAA VBF: Holiday Edition
    November 30-December 2
    ABAA VBF: Holiday Edition
    November 30-December 2
    ABAA VBF: Holiday Edition
    November 30-December 2
    ABAA VBF: Holiday Edition
    November 30-December 2
    ABAA VBF: Holiday Edition
    November 30-December 2
    ABAA VBF: Holiday Edition
    November 30-December 2
    ABAA VBF: Holiday Edition
    November 30-December 2
    ABAA VBF: Holiday Edition
    November 30-December 2

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions