Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Banned Books Week

This week (through 06 October) is the American Library Association's Banned Books Week. I can only quote children's librarian Jan Bojda, who once said: "A good library collection should have something to offend everyone. If they don’t, they [librarians] are not doing their job."

From the ALA's "Freedom to Read" Statement:

"The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label "controversial" views, to distribute lists of "objectionable" books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as individuals devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.

Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy: that the ordinary individual, by exercising critical judgment, will select the good and reject the bad. We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be "protected" against what others think may be bad for them. We believe they still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression."

So go take a look at the ALA's list of the 100 most frequently challenged books here:

My dearest hope is that you look at this list and see a few books that changed your life. Books you couldn't have lived without. Books you want your children to read. I think seeing our own "turning point" books on lists like these encourages us to fight for intellectual freedom and against censorship. The book that did this for me, way back in high school, is number 14 on the list, "The Giver" by Lois Lowry. It is the story of a dystopian society that appears utopian, at first glance. It was one of the foundations of my views on the world and I was horrified to find that it was banned from thousand of American libraries.

Support the right of all American's to be free to read as they wish, this week and always.

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