Books which are considered immoral, obscene, subversive, pornographic, heretical, politically embarrassing, threatening to national security or otherwise undesirable may be banned. Book censorship may lead to a lack of information and serve to maintain prejudice, alienation, discrimination, racism and nationalism. It may include library censorship (refusal to buy certain books, the removal and destruction of others) and proscribed reading lists in schools and other educational institutions.
The first research institute in world history, the library at Alexandria constructed in the third century BC, reportedly contained some 700,000 manuscripts of which few copies survive. It was deliberately destroyed by a mob around 420 AD as classical civilization disintegrated and the Dark Ages closed in.
Over the past 50 years, the following books and authors have either been banned in the USA or the banning of the works has been advocated: Of Mice and Men; The Diary of Anne Frank; The Catcher in the Rye; Huckleberry Finn; 1984; Brave New World; Black Like Me; Lord of the Flies; Henry Miller; Allen Ginsburg; and William Burroughs. Publishers in the USA cut passages from text books, for example, 300 lines were deleted from Romeo and Juliet because of ribald or expressly sexual terminology. In 1989 the book, Satanic Verses, was publicly burned at a demonstration in the UK. In 1993 at the Cairo International Book Fair, concern was expressed at the number of books by Islamic scholars that were banned, including those of the assassinated scholar Farag Fouda who had exposed some facile interpretations of Islam.