Theme is: Think for yourself and let others do the same More than a book a day faces expulsion from free and open public access in U.S. schools and libraries every year. There have been more than 10,000 attempts since the American Library Association began electronically compiling and publishing information on book challenges in 1990. Twenty-eight years after the first observance of Banned Books Week, more than 1,000 people stayed past 1 a.m. debating a request to remove nine books - including “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien and “Beloved” by Toni Morrison - from a Chicago school district. The books were ultimately retained. “Forever” by Judy Blume was one of more than 70 titles that a Fayetteville, Ark., mother requested be removed in 2006. Twenty-five years earlier, the book was restricted in the Park Hill (Mo.) South Junior High School library because the book promotes “the stranglehold of humanism on life in America.” “Throughout history, there always have been a few people who don’t want information to be freely available. And this is still true,” said American Library Association President Roberta A. Stevens. “The reason more books aren’t banned is because community residents - with librarians, teachers and journalists - stand up and speak out for their freedom to read. Banned Books Week reminds us that we must remain vigilant.” The American Library Association and the Ramapo Catskill Library System are endorsing the observance of Banned Books Week Sept. 25 - Oct. 2, an annual celebration of our right to access books without censorship. This observance commemorates the most basic freedom in a democratic society - the freedom to read freely - and encourages us not to take this freedom for granted. “Banned Books Week is about choice and respecting the rights of others to choose for themselves and their families what they wish to read,” said Robert Hubsher, Executive Director of the Ramapo Catskill Library System. “Book banning and challenging has a domino effect. If we stand by and let the first book come off the shelf, we run the risk they will all come tumbling down. American libraries are the cornerstones of our democracy. Libraries are for everyone, everywhere. Because libraries provide free access to a world of information, they bring opportunity to all people.” There were 460 known attempts to remove books in 2009. Challenges are defined as formal, written complaints filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. About 70 percent of challenges take place in schools and school libraries. According to Barbara M. Jones, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom, the number of challenges reflects only incidents reported, and for each reported, four or five remain unreported. “We are as busy as we’ve ever been in fighting censorship attempts in schools and libraries,” Jones said. “Libraries are no longer simply about books - but also about DVDs, videogames and online information.” Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the ALA, the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the National Association of College Stores. It is endorsed by the Library of Congress Center for the Book. Now, more than ever, celebrate the freedom to read at your library. Remember, think for yourself and let others do the same. Elect to read an old favorite or a new banned book this week. This article was distributed by Ramapo Catskill Library System, which includes public libraries in Orange, Rockland, Sullivan and southern Ulster counties.
If we stand by and let the first book come off the shelf, we run the risk they will all come tumbling down. American libraries are the cornerstones of our democracy. Libraries are for everyone, everywhere. Because libraries provide free access to a world of information, they bring opportunity to all people.” Robert Hubsher, executive director of the Ramapo Catskill Library System