Monday, May 10, 2010

Think Globally and Act Locally

I’ve begun preliminary organizing in my area for the 2010 observance of Banned Books Week, which runs from Saturday, 25 September through Saturday, 02 October.  This may seem a bit early, but for those of us operating in an academic environment, preliminary plans have to be made before the summer break in order to have a successful event in September.

Observance of Banned Books Week is important because: 1) hundreds of attempts to remove, hide, or restrict access to books are made every year in these United States, 2) most people are unaware of this problem, and 3) the best defense against censorship is an informed public.

Organizing any event can be time-consuming, but Banned Book Week events are relatively easy to put together. For one thing, I found that there already were a number of observances taking place in my area each year, but most of these were small in scope and little noticed. Just making sure one group knows what another group is doing can increase visibility and participation.

I’m passing all this on in hopes that others will take the initiative to organize similar events in their areas. I’m finding a lot of local support for ideas like:
  • A display of banned and challenged books at a local bookstore and/or library.
  • Web pages dedicated to banned and challenged books, put up by bookstores and libraries.
  • A display and other activities at the English departments of nearby colleges and universities.
  • A speech or presentation by an author whose books have been challenged.
  • A presentation or panel on Free Speech law by local law students.
  • A speech or presentation by a representative of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Civil Liberties Union, American Library Association, or the National Coalition Against Censorship.
I’m also starting up a Banned Books reading club that will operate year-round.  We’ll meet once a month at a local bookstore, which was very happy to help start up the group.  At each meeting we’ll discuss a pre-selected title that has been banned or challenged, including a little of the censorship history of the selected book, which in many cases is easy to look up.  Between the ALA’s lists of frequently challenged books and new challenges going on constantly, there are more than enough titles to keep this reading club running for years.

I've put together some ideas and suggestions on my website, and have links there to resources available from organizations like the ALA, ABFFE, etc.  That info can be found at:

1 comment:

  1. That Banned Books club sounds like a lot of fun, what a great idea!

    Already preparing huh? No one can accuse you of being a procrastinator!