Just as the oppressive heat of summer bids its final farewell, Librarians, with a glint of rebellion in their eyes no doubt, gear up to celebrate Banned Book Week (BBW). This event, which runs from September 25-October 2 this year, is an annual celebration devised to draw attention to the continued resistance that Librarians face in their pursuit to protect the patron's right to read. The freedom of speech, which is granted in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,comes under attack when people try to censor opposing viewpoints by limiting public access to information.
Censorship and book banning are simply incompatible with ideals of an open, democratic society. Furthermore, I'm not sure how many of us would have ever come to love reading...or much less made it through school without books like Anastasia Krupnick, Where the Sidewalk Ends, and Catcher in the Rye. Youth Services collections house a considerable portion of the materials that get challenged each year. Luckily, however, our Youth Service Librarians love their Banned Books! They have cried and laughed their way through countless contested pages, and know without a doubt that most challenged material deserves to be read, re-read and then shared.
So, before this week ends, I hope that you find some time to encourage the people in your communities to explore the wealth of literature that they are fortunate enough to have access to. Maybe you could even get a little controversial yourself and venture into a Banned Book of your choosing. The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom site will provide you with a good starting point if you don’t already have a specific book in mind!