Banned Books Week is a project spearheaded by the American Library Association as “an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment”. Held during the last week of September, Banned Book Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting the actual or attempted banning of books across the United States.
The ALA promotes the freedom to choose, or to express one’s opinions, even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular; and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those viewpoints to all who wish to read them.
In October, 2010, author and columnist, R. Wolf Baldassarro, shared some pictures via social media to bring attention to Banned Books Week. It astounded him that in a country where freedom of the press and expression of thought are guaranteed by a national Constitution that we have one of the highest and most self-righteous rates of censorship in the world.
He was struck with a rather great idea. Every single week during 2011 he wrote an article focusing on a different book that was challenged, removed, or otherwise shut out and blocked from libraries and schools, and invited everyone to discuss and debate the issue and the specific books.
Maybe together we can raise awareness and stand up against such blatant attempts at censorship by opening the floor to all in hopes that strong intellectual and respectful debates open the lines of communication. Remember the wise words of Robert Quillen, “Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; an argument an exchange of ignorance.”
In a short time the response had been amazing and it became an ongoing and much-larger project with long-term goals. The series of articles was picked up and circulated by the World Education Network out of Queensland, Australia. Wolf also created an official non-profit organization, Banned Books Awareness and Reading for Knowledge, which is a community education project that stresses the importance of literacy and the free and open access to information in society; and to bring attention to the ongoing issue of the censorship and literacy around the world.
Share the Knowledge!
For more information on the ALA and the Office of Intellectual Freedom, please visit this link: Banned & Challenged Books