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.
- 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?
7 thoughts on “Banned Books Week as seen through its funders’ eyes”
The link to the public libraries and movie ratings PDF is dead.
Thanks Dan, I’ve fixed it.
Hereâ€™s one example of many you wonâ€™t hear about from ALA or most members and won’t be read at a “read out” [I wonder why???]:
â€œHe 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 wonâ€™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 Gutenbergâ€™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 authoritiesâ€¦â€
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.
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
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.
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