Censorship is the act of preventing or obstructing another’s ability to express their thoughts through media, actions, and speech. American citizens are taught from an early age that the United States government will protect its people from censorship, as seen in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. However, this document was originally created to protect citizens from government censorship, not necessarily censorship coming from other citizens (5). Because of this, newer state legislation and court opinions either increase or decrease the ability to censor others in non-federal situations, and both public and private organizations get involved. One of the United States’ most iconic institutions, the public library, is a contested site in the discussion of censorship.
When the American Librarian Association Council accepted the Library Bill of Rights as a governing document in 1939, they also took a stand against censorship:
“Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.” (4)
Today marks the 45th anniversary of the ALA founding the Freedom to Read Foundation, a non-profit organization that defends the First Amendment as it relates to libraries, books, the Internet, and library users. An off-shoot of the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom (itself founded only two years prior), the Freedom to Read Foundation focuses its efforts primarily on defending librarians, book publishers, teachers, and other people who are in court due to controversial material, while the Office of Intellectual Freedom focuses on outreach, advocacy, and raising awareness of First Amendment issues. Continue reading “Freedom to Read Foundation: 45 Years”→
This week is the 31st annual Banned Books Week, an event when the American Library Association and numerous other sponsors encourage the reading of banned and challenged books. The week was first inspired by the success of the Banned Book Exhibit at an American Booksellers Association (ABA) convention in 1982, which featured almost 500 banned and challenged books. Continue reading “Banned Books Week”→