“Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read….It highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community – librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types – in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.” –ALA Banned Books Week 2015
“Banned Books Week” is a bit of a misnomer, really. First of all, in most cases, books aren’t outright banned, they’re “challenged,” which may result in a book being moved from the kids’ area of the library to the teen area, or the teen area to the adult area. More seriously, a book may be removed from the library altogether, or removed from a course syllabus in a school. Even if a book is removed from the shelves of a school library, though, it’s often still available at the public library or local bookstore or to order online. “Challenged Books Week” doesn’t have the same ring, though, so the American Library Association has decided to stick with the original name.
“The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted with removal or restrictions in libraries and schools. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.” –ALA Banned Books Week 2015
Here in Arlington, we celebrate the freedom to read year-round by making sure that our libraries have materials that represent multiple viewpoints and life experiences. We hope that all readers can find what they want and need at the library, whether that means a book about liberal or conservative politics, a memoir about depression, or a fantasy novel in which witches and wizards perform magic. The library should have something for everyone; as the ALA Code of Ethics states, “We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.”
This year, we’ll be bringing back the “Books change lives…Books save lives” jar. The Banned Books Week display will be up all month, so please stop by and let us know if there’s a book that changed your life or helped you in some way, large or small. Highlighting these books shows how important the freedom to read truly is.