23 September 2011

Free Your Mind: Read a Banned Book!

Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. 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. BBW 2011 runs from September 24th through October 1st.

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 BBW. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

The books featured during BBW have been targets of attempted bannings. Some of the classic works of literature on the challenged list may surprise you.

For titles challenged in 2009-2010, click here.

In a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections. However, sometimes the bans stand.

Imagine how many more books might be challenged — and possibly banned or restricted — if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use BBW each year 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.

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association; American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression; the American Library Association; American Society of Journalists and Authors; and the National Association of College Stores. It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. In 2011, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, and PEN American Center also signed on as sponsors.

Q: What can you do to show your support for intellectual freedom?

Here are a few suggestions:
1) Check out and read a title that has been banned or challenged from our holdings in the SC LENDS catalog.
2) Visit and "Like" the Banned Books Week Facebook page.
3) Contribute your own 2 minute video reading from your favorite challenged book to YouTube.

This entry was informed by the ALA webpage found at http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek/index.cfm and links therefrom.

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