Saturday, February 6, 2010

Books Challenged or Banned (Resource)

A great resource for tracking censorship is a set of booklets published by the American Library Association, in cooperation with a number of other organization, titled Books Challenged & Banned in 2008-2009. There are presently five booklets in the series, starting with 2004-2005. These tend to cover censorship attempts from May to May, so I'm looking forward to the 2009-2010 edition to come out this summer.

These booklets are based on the ALA's Newsletter for Intellectual Freedom, which is available by subscription. Books Challenged and Banned pulls that information together into a single place, listing works by title and author, and describing the censorship attempts made against each. The documented censorship attempts are serious, describing cases in which "someone has tried to restrict another person’s ability to choose." Of course, as the booklet itself points out, this information is based only on censorship attempts that are reported to the ALA. Estimates indicate that most censorship attempts go unreported.

The 2008-2009 edition includes the earlier stages of the West Bend debacle, before it was extended to scores of books. The Leesburg, FL, upheaval didn't start until well into 2009, and so is not included at all. Producing the 2009-2010 edition, then, will be quite a lot of work, given the number of books challenged just by those two campaigns, let along the many other, smaller acts of censorship that were reported.

The following links will access the PDF files containing each year's edition. These files are on the large side, so might take a few moments to download and open:

When the 2009-2010 edition comes out, a link should be posted at the bottom of the ALA's Free Downloads page related to Banned Books Week.

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