Friday, September 26, 2008

Banned Books Week

We've put up displays of banned and challenged books in the Library along with documents and quotes about censorship and the First Amendment.

Our library clerk, Cythea, with an eye for the dramatic and beautiful was a great help in designing the displays.

As soon as I can I'll have some pictures to share. The picture shown is from an exhibit about the artistic response to literary censorship currently being held in Oakland. See the reference below.
"The work of Liz Hager confronts when people tried to ban Harry Potter at the African American Museum on Tuesday, September 16, 2008, in Oakland, Calif. The exhibit has original artwork on the impact of banning books. (Gregory Urquiaga photo)"

The theme of Banned Books Week this year is "Closing Books Shut Out Ideas."

The official ALA web page for BBW is here. The includes press releases, lists of the most challenged books, and other materials about the topic.

The Banned Books Week site, which is more general in scope, states:
"Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the National Association of College Stores. Banned Books Week is also endorsed by the Center for the Book of the Library of Congress."

A couple folks have questioned whether we should "celebrate" BBW but my attitude is that we are really celebrating a very important part of the First Amendment with this week.

Almost every week a message comes across the school librarians' LM_NET listserv about a challenge to some book or film. Intellectual freedom is what we are celebrating and which we must continue to protect in libraries and bookstores across the country.

According the the Banned Books Week website the following local event is underway:

San Francisco Center for the Book | 300 De Haro Street | San Francisco, CA 94131

August 15-November 26, 2008 | 415-565-0545

Banned & Recovered: Artists Respond to Censorship More than 60 artists interpret banned or challenged books in their chosen medium in response to the suppression of literary art. Curator Hanna Regev has assembled more than 60 artists, each interpreting a banned book of their choice. “Collectively," says Regev, "the work initiates an important undertaking—the recovery of fragments of our censored history. We felt that the pairing of visual and graphic artists with these banned and threatened books was a natural one. After all, what better group to interpret suppressed works than visual artists who are already so attuned to the threat of censorship. The show is a powerful reminder of the fragility of our freedoms, many of which are being chipped away by the PATRIOT Act. It is a powerful testament to the irrepressible creative spirit.” A sister exhibition is being held in Oakland at the African American Museum and Library, 659 14th St. An Oakland Tribune article discusses the exhibition.

1 comment: said...

A public library using public funds to promote totally false and misleading information is disgraceful and should be a cause for concern by its citizens. The public does not expect its institutions to mislead them, particularly where absolutely no balance is provided whatsoever.

And it is worse when a public school is doing this.

Banned Books Week is "shameless propaganda ... now institutionalized with a week of its own." Seemingly talking about this blog post, "Those who are spreading hysteria about book banning and censorship know that they are in a war, but too many of those who thoughtlessly repeat their rhetoric do not."

Go to this link to see who said this and more on the topic:

Even a former ALA Councilor said:

"It also highlights the thing we know about Banned Books Week that we don't talk about much--the bulk of these books are challenged by parents for being age-inappropriate for children. While I think this is still a formidable thing for librarians to deal with, it's totally different from people trying to block a book from being sold at all."

It is sad to see a public school present such a one-sided view of an issue. Especially when that one side is "shameless propaganda," and the US Supreme Court said in a case the ALA lost big, US v. ALA:

"The interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, as all Members of the Court appear to agree."