Monday, October 1, 2012

Banned Books Week 2012

Used with permission from the American Library Association

September 30th - October 6th marks the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week. It's a travesty that books are still being challenged and/or banned.

What's the difference between a challenge and a banning? According to the American Library Association (ALA) one of the leading sponsors of the yearly event, "a challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A ban is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view, rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others."

Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from what some well-meaning citizens deem inappropriate. Although a commendable motivation, the ALA refers to it's Library Bill of Rights which states, "Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents- and only parents- have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children- and only their children- to library resources." Censorship by librarians of constitutionally protected speech, whether for protection or for any other reason, violates the First Amendment.

In an article I read on, "The reasons cited most often are violence, obscenity, vulgar language, controversy, and blasphemy. Radical ideas are often banned for their power to make people think. It's harder to control a group if they start to think for themselves. That is the driving force behind censorship of books intended for adults."

The campaign was founded in 1982 by prominent First Amendment and library activist, Judith Krug. Krug strongly opposed the notion that libraries ought to censor the material that they provide to patrons. She has said:

"We know that there are children out there whose parents do not take the kind of interest in their upbringing and in their existence that we would wish, but I don't think censorship is ever the solution to any problem, be it societal or be it the kind of information or ideas that you have access to."
The goal of this very important week is "to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society." The campaign encourages readers to celebrate banned books and their contribution to the literary canon, as well as intellectual freedom to access information and express ideas, even if they are considered unorthodox or unpopular.

You can check out my Pinterest board of the Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2011 and some of their surprising reasons.

The Online Books Page has a collection of Banned Books online.

Talk to you soon.
Happy reading of banned books :)

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