This week marks 30 years of celebrating Banned Books Week.
Well, maybe celebrating isn't the right word. I do think the message of "celebrating" something like the idea of banning books or other forms of media is a somewhat jumbled notion, as this great post at Book Riots delves into in more detail. It's true that it is indeed a fine line between raising awareness of books that have been challenged or outright banned by school districts or state governments than just using the moniker of "Banned Books Week" as another marketing ploy to get a book on the New York Times Bestsellers list.
Just to throw out an example, lots of people love to read dystopian fiction. This is especially evident with the emergence of YA books within that genre being turned into blockbuster movies. Of course, none of us would want to live in a world like one that is shown in The Hunger Games. Yet, in some ways, it feels like even though society moves forward, we keep repeating the past, like we are living in a perpetual world set in 1984.
At the heart of the matter is censorship vs. freedom.
The mission of the Free Library of Philadelphia is to advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity. One of the many jobs of a library is also to be a safe haven and repository of literature, art, music, and other media without prejudice, judgement, or censorship for those trying to access it. When you go to your local neighborhood library, you are actively supporting the freedom, value, and power of literature.
Here are some other ways you can inform yourself about banned books and how to fight against censorship:
ALA has compiled an incredibly detailed timeline of challenged and banned books over the past 30 years.
Cartoonist Grant Snider drew this funny-yet-sad because it's true comic strip on the effects banned books on those who actually read them.
ACLU's website has a great infographic on the history of some of the most infamous banned books including The Catcher In The Rye, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Ulysses, to name just a few.
In the actions speak louder than words department, performance artist Tim Youd had a type-in this week at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis, hunting and pecking his way through Ray Bradbury's famously banned Farenheit 451 on a manual typewriter.
If you have a Twitter account, you can add a Twibbon to show your support for the freedom to read whatever you like.
Finally, when it comes to banned books, The Dude does not abide! Sit back and listen to actor Jeff Bridges read a passage from The Giver as part of Banned Books Week's Virtual Read-Out.
Exercise your freadom and search through our catalog for whatever you would like to read!