Brooklyn Public Library is full of stories. Our podcast brings the best of them to you. 

You can listen by clicking the audio players below, or subscribe to Borrowed on your podcast app of choice.

Borrowed and Banned 

BPL's Peabody-nominated series about America's ideological war with its bookshelves. Over ten episodes, you'll hear from students on the frontlines, librarians and teachers whose livelihoods are endangered when they speak up, and writers whose books have become political battleground. This series also won a Webby Award and was nominated for an Ambie Award.

Start listening to the series here.




BPL's Anthem Award-winning podcast is a narrative show about superhero librarians, neighborhood stories and what it means to be a free, democratic place in today’s changing world. We’ve told stories about libraries during natural disasters, the challenges of homelessness, and NYC’s fraught relationship with trash.





Can I read a transcript of the podcast?

Yes! You can read full transcripts for each episode by clicking on the title of the episode below. You'll also find pictures and links to articles or books mentioned in the episode, too

I have an idea for an episode. Can I tell you about it?

Yes! We're always looking for stories about our Brooklyn community, or how public libraries impact our lives. Reach out to us by emailing

How do I listen?

You can listen right on our website by clicking the audio players below. You can also listen on your smart phone. All you have to do is search for “Borrowed” in your podcast app of choice, then click “subscribe” or “follow” to get new episodes downloaded to your device as soon as they come out. Or, click the buttons below to subscribe on these apps.


Listen on Apple Podcasts   Listen on Google   Listen on Spotify   listen on iHeart    

Season 8, Episode 7

Explore Your City This Summer!

It's summer and school's out! No matter what age you are, you can spend your summer at the library with book lists and activities galore. We go over the facts and stats of BPL's popular Culture Pass program, which has helped thousands of New Yorkers visit museums and performance spaces in the city ... for free!

Check out these "Explore Your City" summer reading lists for adults, teens and kids of all ages.

Season 8, Episode 6

Drag Story Hour

Brooklyn Public Library has been hosting Drag Story Hours since 2016. It's one of our most popular, colorful, and well-attended events for kids. In this episode, we explore why Drag Story Hour NYC is important, and how it’s had to change in recent years in response to an increasingly tense political climate.

Check out out our recommendations for new LGBTQ+ books to read with your kid.

Season 8, Episode 5

Say His Name: Arthur Miller

Outside of Brooklyn, Arthur Miller's name has largely faded from memory. On this episode, we tell the story of the Black community leader who was killed by NYPD chokehold in 1978, the movement pushed forward as a result of his death, and the ways that Brooklyn Public Library’s Center for Brooklyn History helps to keep the story alive.

Check out our list of books created specifically for this episode.

Season 8, Episode 4

When the Library's a Stage

Listen in on one of BPL's most popular art programs: a theater workshop where, once a week, budding thespians come together to read plays, talk about character motivations, and dig into some surprisingly emotional and political topics.

Read along with the theater workshop by checking out the plays on our booklist.

Season 8, Episode 3

Rebroadcast: Secret Lives of Librarians

We revisit an episode from January 2021 in honor of National Library Workers Day, and ask: what do librarians do all day? When they're not planning programs or working the reference desk, these librarians are also obscure trivia players, birders and ... sword fighters! 

Check out this list of books recommended for this episode.

Season 8, Episode 2

Bridging the Gap

Teens and older adults are perhaps the two age groups you might think have the least in common. But a new program at BPL seeks to bring the two generations together ... by having them debate.

Check out these books about debate.

Season 8, Episode 1

Browse the Branches

Brooklyn has 62 neighborhood libraries, each with a distinct architecture, culture, and soul. To kick off the new season and to celebrate our audio stories coming home to Brooklyn, we'll take a tour of the borough with the help of our neighborhood libraries and some of our stalwart patrons who visited all 62 of them ... in a matter of days!

Read your way through the braches with the help of this book list!

Season 7, Episode 7

The Challenge

Student activists in York, Pennsylvania organized a silent protest when hundreds of books were banned from their classrooms, paving the way for lasting change in their community. In this final episode of the series, we tackle the challenge head-on: from encouraging open dialogue about the books on our shelves to the ongoing work of protecting the freedom to read. 

Check out every book mentioned on our Borrowed and Banned series!

Season 7, Episode 6

On the Frontlines

Library workers often risk their livelihoods when they speak out against censorship, spurring community members to pick up the fight for intellectual freedom. We tell the story of how one Louisiana parish came together to defend their library amidst book challenges, tip lines, and even sign burning.

Season 7, Bonus Episode

An Interview with Maia Kobabe

Maia Kobabe's debut memoir, Gender Queer, was the most frequently banned book in 2021 and 2022. We talked with Maia about what it's like to be on the recieving end of so many challenges, and the importance of public libraries.

Season 7, Episode 5

Beloved Blues

Despite being one of the most frequently banned authors, Toni Morrison’s work has inspired countless others to tell stories outside the mainstream. We take a closer look at Morrison's writing, her legacy, and her impact on the anti-censorship movement.

Check out our list of Toni Morrison's books.

Season 7, Bonus Episode

An Interview with George M. Johnson

George M. Johnson talks about their debut Young Adult memoir All Boys Aren't Blue, the support of their family, their love of Toni Morrison, and the importance of standing against book bans. 

Season 7, Episode 4

Battle of the Classics

Banning of so-called “classics” grabs public attention, but books like To Kill a Mockingbird and 1984 don't need your defense. It's the more recently published titles by and about people with marginalized identities that are most at risk. This episode, we investigate what we mean when we call a book a "classic," and hear from young people about what books they care about today. 

Read the new "classics," according to teens.

Season 7, Bonus

An Interview with Mike Curato

Mike Curato talks about his award-winning graphic novel Flamer, his writing practice, and how it feels to have his story vaulted into national headlines as parents, politicians, and school boards campaign to remove his book from school and library shelves.


Season 7, Episode 3

Of Parents and School Boards

Over the past few years, school board races have become more heated and more political — and books have become the center of that political storm. We look at what happened in Keller, Texas when an ultra-conservative group took over the school board.

Check out our book list created for this episode.

Season 7, Episode 2

Seen and Obscene

The birth of obscenity laws in the 1870s provides a cautionary tale for the present moment, when far-right conservatives incorrectly label books “sexually explicit” as a way to provoke outrage in communities nationwide. This episode, we delve into the parallels that history can reveal and hear from students in Texas fighting for their freedom to read.

Check out this list of books recommended for this episode.

Season 7, Episode 1

All for a Library Card

When a high school teacher in Norman, Oklahoma shared a QR code with her students that would grant them access to BPL’s digital collection, she took a stand against a restrictive state law. That act of resistance made her first day of school ... also her last. 

Read some of the most frequently-challenged books (many of which will be featured on this podcast series)!

Season 7, Trailer

Introducing: Borrowed and Banned

On Borrowed and Banned, we tell the story of America’s ideological war with its bookshelves by talking with the people most impacted: the students on the frontlines, the librarians and teachers whose livelihoods are endangered when they speak up, and the writers whose books have become political battleground. 

Take our Banned Books Challenge and read these books.

Season 6, Episode 10

Jay-Z at the Library

Over 14,000 patrons have signed up for their first library card since Jay-Z's exhibit came to Central Library in mid-July. We talk to Brooklynites traveling around the borough to collect all 13 Jay-Z library cards, and ask what The Book of HOV means to them. 

Check out what's on Jay-Z's bookshelf.

Season 6, Episode 9

Pathways to Leadership

Kesha Powell and Amen Emile have been working at BPL for over 20 years in various roles, from public safety to circulation manager. Thanks to BPL's Pathways to Leadership program—a scholarship and mentorship initiative designed to diversify the field of librarianship—they will soon be fully-certified librarians. 

Check out these books about librarians and library work.

Learn more about Borrowed

Check out our press kit for more information about our story and our hosts, and quick links to starter episodes.