Celebrating Banned Books Week
Banned Books Week
By J. Douglas Archer
Chair, American Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee
Celebrate book banning? No way! Why would you do that? The answer, of course, is that Banned Books Week celebrates the continued availability of books that some folks tried to ban, not their attempts to ban them. Banned Books Week celebrates books and the people and institutions that defend your right to read them. For over twenty-seven years Banned Books Week has celebrated the freedom of Americans to write, publish, sell, buy, borrow, and read. It does this by publicizing attempts to have books removed from America’s libraries — whether those attempts where successful or not.
Banned Books Week is an annual event sponsored by a coalition of organizations representing America’s writers, publishers, booksellers and libraries – those segments of our society most directly committed to supporting the unimpeded creation and distribution of information. This year’s participants are the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, and National Association of College Stores. In addition, Banned Books Week is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.
This year’s data collected by the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom documented 420 formal attempts to have books removed from America’s school, public and academic libraries. Since only a portion of challenges are report (some estimate only 20 to 25 percent), it’s fairly obvious that the impulse to censor is alive and well in America.