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Sunday, September 25, 2005

Chapter Thirty-One, in which Banned Books Week is publicized

For more information, contact:Jeff Hill

Banned Books Week Celebrates the Freedom to Read
Librarians, booksellers, publishers to mark event, Sept. 24–Oct. 1

25 September 2005 (Oglesby, Illinois) – Who decides what you will find freely available in your public and school libraries?

In the wake of proposed legislation and resolutions in several states this year to restrict or prohibit access to materials related to sexual orientation, the American Library Association (ALA) Council passed a resolution in June affirming the inclusion of materials that reflect the diversity of our society and encouraging libraries to acquire and make available materials representative of all people.

What ALA President Michael Gorman called “an extreme disservice” to readers is far more sinister—it is a gross infringement on the liberty of every American.

Many bookstores and libraries across the nation will join in the celebration of Banned Books Week with displays and readings of books that have been banned or threatened throughout history. These include works ranging from the Bible and Little Red Riding Hood to John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. Observed since 1982, Banned Books Week reminds Americans not to take for granted this precious democratic freedom to read freely.

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom received a total of 547 challenges to books last year, up from 458 in 2003. A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. According to Judith F. Krug, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom, the number of challenges reflects only incidents reported, and for each reported, four or five remain unreported. “Most Challenged” titles include the popular Harry Potter series of fantasy books for children by J.K. Rowling. The series drew complaints from parents and others who believe the books promote witchcraft to children.

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.

Mad About Books in Oglesby will mark this event by offering for sale many previously banned books and presenting related information. In addition, they will be donating 10% of all sales to the American Library Association.

To learn more and get involved, please go to www.ala.org/bbooks.

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