Banned Books Week, Sept. 22 – 28, stresses the importance of preventing censorship and ensuring everyone’s freedom to read any book, no matter how unorthodox or unpopular. (ALA)
Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982. (Banned Book Week)
It’s 2013! Why are books still challenged?
Why are books challenged?
Books usually are challenged with the best intentions—to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information. See Notable First Amendment Cases.
Censorship can be subtle, almost imperceptible, as well as blatant and overt, but, nonetheless, harmful.
Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from “inappropriate” sexual content or “offensive” language. The following were the top three reasons cited for challenging materials as reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom:
- the material was considered to be “sexually explicit”
- the material contained “offensive language”
- the materials was “unsuited to any age group”
Although this is a commendable motivation, Free Access to Libraries for Minors, an interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights (ALA’s basic policy concerning access to information) states that, “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.
Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us. (ALA)
What can I do?
- READ! Read banned books, let others know about them. Don’t know what books have been challenged or banned? We have some lists or come on in and ask us!
- Join the Freedom to Read Foundation
- Report a challenge to the ALA