Banned Books Week as seen through its funders’ eyes

More on the Chicago Defender.
Here are my old Banned Books Weeks posts: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. I skipped 2005.

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.

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

Join me in a rousing song celebrating free expression, won’t you?

7 Responses to “Banned Books Week as seen through its funders’ eyes”

  1. lis.dom » thinking about banned books Says:

    [...] long been a fan of Jessamyn West’s take on Banned Books Week — that it’s a marketing ploy, that most of the books that claim to [...]

  2. Dan O'Hara Says:

    The link to the public libraries and movie ratings PDF is dead.

  3. jessamyn Says:

    Thanks Dan, I’ve fixed it.

  4. John R. Lang Says:

    Here’s one example of many you won’t hear about from ALA or most members and won’t be read at a “read out” [I wonder why???]:

    “He is the most widely read English-language author in history, read by about 10,000 times more people than Chaucer himself, yet more than likely you won’t recognize his name: William Tyndale.

    William Tyndale was a theologian and scholar born in North Nibley, England in 1494 and he died at Vilvoorden, Belgium in 1536. (The first date is only an approximation, no one is actually certain of the year he was born). Tyndale was strangled to death and burned at the stake for being the first person to publish the New Testament in Early Modern English. (Other scholars had translated the Bible into English before him, such as John Wycliffe, but Tyndale was the first to take advantage of Gutenberg’s new printing press and widely disseminate his translation.) At the time that Tyndale published his New Testament translation, it was a crime punishable by death, according to the Roman Catholic Church, and eventually he was hunted down and killed for fulfilling his goal of putting the Word of God into the hands of the common people…Tyndale endorsed the movement to reform the Roman Catholic Church and in his translation he included notes and comments that supported his Reformation views. Hence, when he finished his work it was immediately banned by the authorities…”

  5. Links – September 24th, 2010 « A Modern Hypatia Says:

    [...] in or removed from libraries – but it’s also meant to highlight other issues. Jessamyn has her yearly great round up of posts and notes. And this year, The Office of Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association is blogging [...]

  6. JJR Says:

    I have at home a dual CD set of an audio-recording of “Sam Singleton, Atheist Evangelist”s stage act, titled _Patriarchs and Penises_. What do you suppose the odds are my local public library would honor a request to purchase this title, or would add it to their collection if donated.

    [crickets]

    Yeah, that’s what I thought.

  7. jessamyn Says:

    I don’t know about your local library, but none of mine in Vermont even have audio sections. I think it’s more useful to figure out what a library’s selection policy is [and their collection, what it's like generally] and then go from there. I know there are some libraries where something like that would be totally complementary. Yours may differ. Prejudging based on what you think is going to happen isn’t a really useful way to engage with a public institution.