Banned Books Week

September 23, 2006

“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.”Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, “The One Un-American Act,” Nieman Reports, vol. 7, no. 1 (Jan. 1953): p. 20.

This week, September 23-30, has been designated by the ALA as Banned Books Week. According to the ALA’s website, Banned Books Week is a celebration of “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.” Celebrating its 25th year, Banned Books Week draws attention to the challenges issued to libraries for materials in their collections that groups or individuals believe are “unacceptable” for one reason or another. Check out the Banned Books Week website this week and leave us a comment here on the blog letting us know what you this about this event or the larger principle of Intellectual Freedom.


4 Responses to “Banned Books Week”

  1. Thanks for posting about banned books week on the OLISSA blog page. I honestly can’t imagine living in place (time or country) where intellectual freedom did not exist. I have good friends that came to live in the U.S. from war-torn countries, and they say the library is their haven.

    Althought I am a U.S. citizen, the library is also my haven – where else can you be “cool” because you want to learn everything, and have free access to it all?

    Thank goodness for libraries and those hard-working librarians who cherish free thinking and sharing of ideas!

  2. gtdewbre Says:

    I constantly see my Christian friends telling our children not to read certain books because they instill images, thoughts, or speech that are offensive to Christ. I do not particularly like to read some of the profane passages in books but then I never liked the way my father cussed either. I am sure God would not have been in favor of banning him from my life. Most of these books offer insight to right and wrong and can be great tools to teaching morals and values.

    No one can be sheltered forever from every bad influence and if they are they will be of no help to someone facing a hard consequence. Books can offer insight to dealing with situations that are against our beliefs, developing maturity in dealing with reality. I don’t think banning books is the answer to a better society. I think teaching proper ethics, morals, and values that help people make proper decisions in selecting reading material will do much more for our society than pulling books off the shelf.

  3. ashmolean Says:

    I was totally amazed recently when a christian mother wouldn’t let her daughter read the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe because there is a witch in the story. When I told her that the story was a christian allegory, she replied that she had read it but didn’t want to expose her daughter to the evil in the book. I then replied that there is evil in the world and we had to face it before I stopped myself going any further realizing that I was at the circulation desk checking out a customer!I was in such shock that anyone would find The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe offensive. I knew that people didn’t like Harry Potter but be prepared folks for all kind of censorship!

  4. Tim Says:

    I think these comments are prime examples of how important the principle of intellectual freedom is and why we, as a democracy and as information professionals, should support and defend the right of an individual to think for themselves. There will be situations where a parent must step in because they believe that an item’s content is not age appripriate for their child, but gtdewbre captures it perfectly with her statement on the importance of books in offering insight to our life experiences. If we are only exposed to one side of a story, it denies us the chance to understand other or opposing schools of thought. Being exposed to differing opinions may provide more insight into our personal beliefs, but just as more information can be helpful, so too can it be problematic. I understand how some may feel threatened by exposing themselves to different ideas and I respect their right to censor themselves, but I take issue when they attempt to force that censorship upon others.

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