This year marks the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week. What’s it all about, you ask? This, pretty much:
Banned Books Week is all about celebrating the freedom to read. Like Linus, you have the freedom to walk into a library or bookstore and access the information you want or need. As the American Library Association puts it:
“[Banned Books Week] highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular….While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.”
I admit, I fell down on the job this year display-wise (but I had a reason!). Luckily for me, Amy and Stefanie, our Children’s/Young Adult librarians, are super-creative and super on top of things. They’ve got a fantastic display planned, so be sure you stop in and see it this week.
As for me, I got you a list of links. Here are some great resources and opinion pieces on what Banned Books Week is all about.
- The official Banned Books Week website — find out about events, this year’s Virtual Read-Out, a list of the past year’s most frequently challenged titles, and more
- American Library Association: About Banned and Challenged Books — detailed background of exactly what Banned Books Week is all about, and what we mean by a “challenged” book
- “No Sex Please, We’re American” — from The Guardian has a focus on YA literature, as well as a list of frequently challenged books from 2011
- A post from The Annoyed Librarian from 2011, “Celebrate “Librarians Trying to Make Themselves Feel Important” Week!”
- Here’s a USA Today piece from last year, “Banned Books Week Is Just Hype”
There’s a lot out there about censorship, Banned Books Week, and intellectual freedom. As you can see just from the small sample of cartoons and articles I posted, it’s very easy for the waters to become muddy on this issue–particularly when it comes to defining terms.
As far as I’m concerned, Banned Books Week comes down to this: You are the only person with the right to decide what you want to read. You have the right to read what you want, where you want, when you want. Nobody has the right to limit your access to entertainment or information because of personal disapproval–nor do you have the right to limit their access to views you personally find objectionable.
We celebrate Banned Books Week to hilight the fact that we have this freedom, and that we shouldn’t take it for granted. At least, that’s why I celebrate it.