"Banning books is so utterly hopeless and futile. Ideas don't die because a book is forbidden reading." - Gretchen Knief, Kern County Librarian when the Grapes of Wrath was banned.
Today marks the beginning of this year's Banned Book Week (September 25 - October 2). Each blog post this week will feature a banned or challenged book. I just meant to write a short introduction about the significance of this week, to set the stage for these book reviews. But I really struggled to write one.
What can I possibly say to embody the passion that I and so many librarians feel for freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of information and ideas? I scoured the web for quotes from everybody from Ben Franklin to Mae West. I thought of appealing to the most powerful ethical document in modern librarianship, the Library Bill of Rights. I tried to lighten the mood with interesting facts - that this Bill was in part a direct response to the banning of The Grapes of Wrath in 1939; that the "pioneer of modern American censorship" was Anthony Comstock, founder of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice in 1872. But none of it felt sufficient.
The fact is, there is no one phrase, one idea, one moment that I can call upon to represent the overriding insistence at the library's ethical core that all people must, must, must be free to write and to read. That's the point. Intellectual freedom is about respecting many words, many perspectives. So the only way I can share my passion with you is to say this - go out and read. Read something banned. Read something you never thought you'd pick up. Read that book your mom loves that you've been avoiding for years. Read something that offends you.
We'll be here with suggestions all week.
Submitted by Audrey @ Central