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Monday, September 29, 2008

Banned Books Week 2008

Every year the American Library Association Celebrates Banned Books Week. This year it is from September 26-October 4, 2008. Click here to see everything the ALA has prepared for their celebration of the freedom to read.

Americans often take their First Amendment rights for granted. It is that freedom of speech that allows us to read whatever we want AND allows people to challenge books. Banned Books Week is a collaboration between a few organizations. Since this is America, very few if any of these books are actually banned; rather, this celebration draws attention to all of the books that are challenged for being on library shelves.

Here is the ALA's statement from their website:

"Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year. Observed since 1982, the annual event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted.

"Banned Books Week (BBW) celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met. As the Intellectual Freedom Manual (ALA, 7th edition) states:

'Intellectual freedom can exist only where two essential conditions are met: first, that all individuals have the right to hold any belief on any subject and to convey their ideas in any form they deem appropriate; and second, that society makes an equal commitment to the right of unrestricted access to information and ideas regardless of the communication medium used, the content of the work, and the viewpoints of both the author and receiver of information. Freedom to express oneself through a chosen mode of communication, including the Internet, becomes virtually meaningless if access to that information is not protected. Intellectual freedom implies a circle, and that circle is broken if either freedom of expression or access to ideas is stifled.'”

Each year the BPL does a display for Banned Books Week, and we provide lists of books that have been challenged in the calendar year. Here is a sampling of some of the titles that have been challenged this past year.

Finally, on September 23rd, The Chicago Tribune ran this op-ed by Leonard Pitts on the importance of Intellectual Freedom in America.

Visit your library this week, check out a banned book, and show your pride in our country's guaranteed freedom of speech.

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