It’s time for a review of Banned Books Week. This year most of my BBW information comes from Twitter. Amusingly BBW on Twitter can mean two very different things. This is the note I put on Twitter yesterday.
“Oh look an actual attempt at, well not book banning exactly. Weird old Pentagon. http://bit.ly/cqg9PL Happy [sort of] Banned Books Week.”
Pretty sketchy story. The Pentagon bought up the entire first printing of a book published by St Martin’s Press because it “contained information which could cause damage to national security.” The second edition has come out, heavily redacted. This is one of the closer “government is telling you what you can’t read” stories that I’ve seen this year. Here’s another look at the websites that are linked from ALA’s offical BBW website ala.org/bbooks, a page that is linked from the front page, but only as one of the six “slides” that revolve through the top of the page. So, Banned Books Week is sponsored by these organizations. Let’s see what their websites look like.
- American Booksellers Association has a link to this functional site from the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, much better than last year. This blog post (from August) seems to summarize what they’ve been up to. Nothing on their Twitter. They also run the website BannedBooks.org which has been updated a little for this year.
- The American Library Association – has one of the six slides linked to their BBW page. The press kit page is more interesting. The full list of books that were challenged or banned last year is hidden away in a PDF. Mostly school challenges. A few interesting public library cases. ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom is posting a lot on their Twitter and their blog.
- American Society of Journalists and Authors has a button for sale in their store, no other mention that I could find including on their Twitter and on facebook.
- Association of American Publishers has a short bloggish post talking about what some publishers are up to this week, linked from the front page. Is anyone else freaked out that the URL includes a misspelling of the word “archives”? I remember that from last year.
- the National Association of College Stores has nothing, as usual.
- It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress but no mention that I can see.
One of the interesting thigns to note about the ALA list of challenges is how many of the public library challenges seem to be centered around just a few library systems. Most of these stories are ones that hit the national news and so I’ve heard about them and you probably have also.
There are also good websites to go to to learn about censorship and the larger (to me) issue of chilling effects on people’s right to live free from fear and free from silencing. Here are a few things I’ve been reading lately
- The National Coalition Against Censorship has protested book ratings in a sensible and clear headed way.
- A Few Words About Public Libraries and MPAA Ratings (pdf)
- An interesting discussion on a unicycle forum about the public library and whether they should buy “cleaned up” versions of popular music.
- Online books about censorship, from the Online Books Page’s banned books page.
- I always find something interesting to read at Project Censored.
Join me in a rousing song celebrating free expression, won’t you?