Sunday, September 26, 2010

Happy Banned Books Week!

Every year during the last week of September, the American Library Association sponsors a glorious librarian holiday season called Banned Books Week. It’s a wonderful time of year when libraries and bookstores and all free citizens are encouraged to revel in their First Amendment rights.

Now I could go into a very long, involved, well-researched essay on censorship and its evils (seriously, I have a paper from college that goes into wonderful detail if you’re interested), but I will not (and I can hear the sighs of relief…). What I will do is share with you a few things from the ALA Banned Books Week site that I find interesting and generally wonderful.

This is just a sample, click on the link for the full list and the reason why:
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Baby Be-Bop by Francesca Block
Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
Deal With It! A Whole New Approach to Your Body, Brain, and Life as a gURL by Esther Drill
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Sex for Busy People: The Art of the Quickie for Lovers on the Go by Emily Dubberley
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
The Cartoons That Shook the World by Jytte Klausen
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary by Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell
How to Get Suspended and Influence People by Adam Selzer
The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Banned Books Week Proclamation
WHEREAS, the freedom to read is essential to our democracy, and reading is among our greatest freedoms; and
WHEREAS, privacy is essential to the exercise of that freedom, and the right to privacy is the right to open inquiry without having the subject of one’s interest examined or scrutinized by others; and
WHEREAS, the freedom to read is protected by our Constitution; and
WHEREAS some individuals, groups, and public authorities work 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 of materials reflecting the diversity of society; and
WHEREAS, both governmental intimidation and the fear of censorship cause authors who seek to avoid controversy to practice self-censorship, thus limiting our access to new ideas; and
WHEREAS, every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of American society and leaves it less able to deal with controversy and difference; and
WHEREAS, American still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression, and can be trusted to exercise critical judgment, to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe, and to exercise the responsibilities that accompany this freedom; and
WHEREAS, intellectual freedom is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture; and
WHEREAS, the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year as a reminder to Americans not to take their precious freedom for granted; and
WHEREAS, Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Library celebrates the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, and be it further
RESOLVED, that the Library encourages all libraries and bookstores to acquire and make available materials representative of all the people in our society; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the Library encourages free people to read freely, now and forever.

Library Bill of Rights
I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
VI. Libraries that make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

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