#BannedBooksWeek – Why Is It Important?

Welcome to Banned Books Week, 2019. I’ve made it something of a tradition to participate, and this year is no different! I invite you to join me this year, share your blog posts and check out what others have to say. The link will be open the entire week!

Image of a lit-up lightbulb holding a book, followed by the words: Censorship Leaves Us In The Dark. Keep The LIght On! Banned Books Week, September 22-28, 2019. bannedbooksweek.org

Why do we celebrate Banned Books Week? For me it is certainly tied to the theme of this years celebration “Censorship Leaves Us In The Dark.” It is interesting to look at the books which have drawn the most attention in a year, and to see the way that certain trends we’re seeing in larger social movements are reflected. But what it all comes down to is our rights of intellectual freedom.

I think we always have to bring the idea back to our constitutional rights. What’s important about this isn’t the sensationalism of a banned book; the importance is our freedom in a democratic society to listen to and read and think the ideas we want to think. That concept is essential to democratic discourse.

Mary Keeling, President of the American Association of School Librarians.

Banned Books Week reaches beyond the challenging and banning of books, it is a chance to explore other questions around freedom. Challenges happen in many locations, and the restriction of resources can take many forms. The information presented by the ALA each year for Banned Books Week comes from reports received by their office from schools, libraries, and the media. What it doesn’t include is censorship that may not be reported, censorship that may occur in quieter ways, such as by omission (a library or school deciding to simply not acquire a particular book into their catalog).

Where Challenges Take Place: 59% Public Libraries; 23% School Libraries; 14% Schools; 3% Academic Libraries; 1% Special/Prison libraries.  Statistics based on 347 responses.
Who initiates challenges: 33% Patrons; 32% Parents; 13% Board/Administration; 10% Librarians/Teachers; 6% Political/religious groups; 3% elected officials; 3% students.  Statistics based on 335 responses.
Beyond Books: The American Library Association has noticed an increase in attempts to censor drag queen story hours and LGBTQIA+ programming, as well as challenges to remove access to databases. The American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 347 challenges in 2018. Here's the breakdown: 62% books; 15% Programs, meeting rooms; 10% Databases, magazines, films, games; 6% Displays, artwork; 7% other (includes access, social media, hate crimes).

When you really start to look at some of the challenges it can raise interesting questions, and I would encourage you to really think about some of the reasons books have been challenged. Are there times when a book (or program, game, film, etc), really should be removed?

One thought on “#BannedBooksWeek – Why Is It Important?

  1. Terrific post… I linked to you in my #BannedBooksWeek story today…these charts are so valuable to understanding the issue, which I don’t think people realize is as prevalent as it is today! Bravo to you for continuing to shine a light on this issue!

    Liked by 1 person

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.