Sep 29, 2009

Enjoy Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

Banned Books Week started September 26 and will run through October 3 this year. When we talk about banned works, we're not just talking about works that came out last year, or the year before that. In the list of challenged classics, you'll find 'To Kill A Mockingbird' alongside 'The Catcher in the Rye' and 'Lolita'.

Books on the list are not necessarily government censored, but they happen to be "challenged" by parents to administrators who, worried about mollifying parents, try to take the offending title out of the library. Many titles on the list are there mostly by reputation, like a popular band releasing a new album each year that you just know is going straight to number 1.

With that in mind, I'd like to repeat a quote from Kurt Vonnegut, who gave librarians across this country their due for keeping challenged books on the shelves of the local institutions:

And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.

So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.

So celebrate this week by reading one of the banned works, or else by recommending one to a friend or colleague. You can also visit The American Library Association to learn more.

Sources: [ALA Banned Books Week]
[I Love You, Madame Librarian]

No comments:

Post a Comment