Sunday, September 27, 2009

Banned Books Week Begins Today

Law Librarian Blog

Since 1982, the ALA has sponsored this event to remind us not to take our intellectual freedom for granted.

ALA reports that there were 581 challenges to books in schools and libraries in 2008; however,the Banned Books Week web sight informs us that the official ALA figures do not include ALL the challenges. Seventy to eighty percent of challenges are not reported to the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom (though they do not provide supporting documentation for that figure, other resources indicate this data is supported by surveys undertaken by a variety of advocacy groups.) Banned Books does offer a nice mashup that maps the challenges.

At the ALA web site, you can review the differences between a challenge and an actual banning of books. They also provide information about the types of challenges and bans that take place in schools and libraries throughout the country.

On the web site, there is little information about the procedures ALA follows in response to these challenges or activities, or exactly how many are successful or unsuccessful. You can learn a little more about the challenges in this report by Roger Doyle at

A further exploration of the ALA web site reveals the Office of Lawyers for Libraries which holds regional advocacy institutes for lawyers retained to represent libraries on legal issues. In February they will be holding an Advocacy Institute in Los Angeles. You can also take advantage of a number of self help tools posted on the ALA Advocacy University web site.

Most of the resources focus on how to advocate for your library in terms of lobbying. There is only one paper based resource that focuses on lobbying for the library workers. There are no resources to help advocate for job security or academic freedom for individual librarians who are on the front lines battling censorship everyday. Oh wait, that was yesterday's post.

In any case, Resource Shelf is doing a marvelous job keeping track of banned book resources to consult. This is a very important issue that I hope will all support.(VS)

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