Did you know that the ALA recommends a number of things for us to do to support our library workers? Recommendations include following the news and social media to be informed of organizations working to censor library or school materials, programs or curriculum. Don't forget to show up at school or library board meetings. Remember the ALA supports a parent's right to restrict reading materials for their own child but not for all readers. Oppose legislation in your state. Educate family and your community about censorship and the First Amendment. Write to your local newspaper. Find and join organizations like the Freedom to Read Foundation.
Did you know that there is no legal definition of "hate speech" under US law? Hate speech is protected by the First Amendment. But hate speech can lose its First Amendment protections if the speech is an incitement to imminent lawless action, speech threatens serious bodily harm or the speech that cause an immediate breach of the peace (fighting words.)
For more discussion about hate speech and the First Amendment visit FIRE
Did you know that ALA's Freedom to Read statement is 70 years old? (It was first adopted June 25, 1953.) This statement states that the freedom to read is essential to our democracy and guaranteed by our constitution.
"Freedom keeps open the path of novel and creative solutions, and enables change to come by choice. Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it the less able to deal with controversy and difference.
... The freedom to read and write is almost the only means for making generally available ideas or manners of expression that can initially command only a small audience.
... We believe that every American community must jealously guard the freedom to publish and to circulate, in order to preserve its own freedom to read. We believe that publishers and librarians have a profound responsibility to give validity to that freedom to read by making it possible for readers to choose freely from a variety of offerings."
Did you know that (ALA's) Library Bill of Rights states that, "Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents- and only parents- have the right to restrict the access of their children- and only their children- to library services."
Censorship by librarians of constitutionally protected speech, whether for protection or for any other reason violates the First Amendment.
Visit the Kids' Right to Read Project.
Did you know that J.D. Salinger's, "The Catcher in the Rye" is famous as the most censored, banned and challenged book between 1966 and 1975. Reasons given? It was considered "obscene" with an "excess of vulgar language, sexual scenes, and things concerning moral issues."
For Banned Books Week list of events visit Events from Banned Book Week
Banned Books week is October 1-7, 2023. Visit Banned Books Week
This year Banned Books Week is October 1 - 7, 2023.
It's sad that we have to have a whole week to highlight this.
Book banning is as old as writing itself. There is something powerful about the written word. Words contain our hopes, our dreams and our ideas. Words contained in books, written on posters and pamphlets are how those hopes and dreams and ideas can live forever.
The history of book banning reaches far into history. Books have been banned because they are "obscene" or because they are "hate literature", banned for political reasons, or for religious ones, for blasphemy and for giving offense, for being "socially corrupting" and for being too critical of those in power. Books have been banned for being "immoral" and for heresy, for featuring Jewish characters, and being critical of white supremacy. For being subversive, and anti-government. For depicting sexuality and for promoting homosexuality. For celebrating black culture and for anti-slavery content.
The list of reasons why a book or piece of writing is "unacceptable" is a long one. Sometimes the supposed reasons are well meaning- "Let's protect the children," and sometimes they are not.
In the USA the American Libraries Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom monitors attempts to censor books, materials and services across public, school and academic libraries. The ALA reports that in 2023 from January 1 to August 31 preliminary data shows a record surge of challenges in Public Libraries. The OIF reported 695 attempts to censor library materials, and 3,923 total titles were targeted for censorship.
The suppression of ideas, and speech has no place in an open and democratic society.
In case we have forgotten, the First Amendment states that
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.