Since 1990, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has recorded more than 10,000 book challenges. A challenge is a formal, written complaint requesting a book be removed from library shelves or school curriculum. About three out of four of all challenges are to material in schools or school libraries, and one in four are to material in public libraries.
Challenges are not simply an expression of a point of view; on the contrary, they are an attempt to remove materials from public use, thereby restricting the access of others. Even if the motivation to ban or challenge a book is well intentioned, the outcome is detrimental. Censorship denies our freedom as individuals to choose and think for ourselves.
In support of the right to choose books freely for ourselves, the ALA and Reese Library are observing Banned Books Week September 30 – October 6 an annual celebration of our right to access books without censorship. This year’s 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 reminds us that while not every book is intended for every reader, each of us has the right to decide for ourselves what to read, listen to, or view. Now, more than ever, celebrate the freedom to read with an old favorite or a new banned book this week.
Visit the Banned Books Week display on the first floor of Reese Library for more information.