This year’s Banned Books Week runs from September 27 to October 3, so I will begin by apologizing for the tardiness of this post. The good thing is that I have almost a year to prepare for Banned Books Week 2021.
Banned Books Week, an annual awareness campaign promoted by the American Library Association in partnership with Amnesty International, celebrates the freedom to read, draws attention to banned and challenged books, and spotlights persecuted individuals. Since 1982, the campaign in the U.S. “stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them” and the requirement to keep library materials available to the public so that readers can develop their own conclusions and opinions. The international campaign chronicles individuals “persecuted because of the writings that they produce, circulate or read.”
Intellectual Freedom (IF) is the right granted by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution of any person to read or express views that may be unpopular or offensive to some people, within certain limitations (such as libel or slander). Legal cases concerning free speech issues are heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. Click here to connect to the homepage of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. You will find additional IF resources on the ICfL Governance and Administration page.
If you have questions or concerns about IF in public libraries, please feel free to contact your ICfL Area Field Consultant. We can also help with revising your library’s Collection Development and/or Circulation Policy to include references to intellectual freedom and procedures for dealing with challenged materials.
ALA has released its list of the 100 most banned and challenged books of 2010-2019. It makes for some thoughtful and interesting reading, as do reviews of these books that have appeared in professional journals. Many of those reviews are available at Amazon.com. Just search for the book in question and then scroll down to the reviews section.