Tuesday, September 29, 2009

banned books week

I'm a bit late, but it's once again Banned Books Week!  This is something near and dear to my heart because, to be honest, if I'd gone to Hogwarts I would have been caught in the restricted book section constantly.

A Wall Street Journal opinion piece apparently finds the idea of a Banned Books Week rather silly.  Neil Gaiman sums in up thus:
"The editorial doesn't quite go as far as claiming that libraries are UnAmerican, but it strongly implies that all librarians and people who work in libraries are, along with people who support the First Amendment -- unless they're trying, reasonably, like Good Americans, to stop other people's children from reading things they don't like. There's a cartoon of Good Americans being intimidated by a Scary Librarian too, for anyone who missed the point."
I much prefer the response from the director of the National Coalition Against Censorship that the Huffington Post ran:
"In our diverse society, it is inevitable that people will be offended by something they see, read or hear, and that some will respond by advocating the suppression of what they dislike. Demands for censorship come from both ends of the political spectrum and all points in between.

"Nor should we expect this situation to change. It is a measure of the health of our democracy that people feel free to protest. But because the fight over books will continue, so must the battle against censorship. Banned Books Week offers everyone an opportunity to join the effort to save the books -- all of them."
And--maybe coolest of all--the ALA provides brightly colored graphs illustrating the number, reason, institution, and instigator of challenges to books over the past 18 years.  Like so:

Challenges by Reason

It is often easy to forget how fortunate we are in the US of A, with our ability to read what we like, or protest the reading, and have our rights so well protected.  Banned Books Week is (I think) a time to celebrate it.

top photo from the NY Public Library via Flickr Commons

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