Banned Books Week takes place during the last week of September . It is promoted by the American Library Association and Amnesty International to celebrate the freedom to read, and draw attention to banned and challenged books, and highlight persecuted individuals and remind people that the war for free expression still wages and the right to free expression is not easily won. It has been Held during the last week of September since 1982, and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them” and the requirement to keep material publicly available so that people can develop their own conclusions and opinions. The international campaign notes individuals “persecuted because of the writings that they produce, circulate or read.” Some of the events that occur during Banned Book Week are The Virtual Read-Out and The First Amendment Film Festival.
Banned Books Week was founded in 1982 by prominent First Amendment and library activist Judith Krug. Krug said that the Association of American Publishers contacted her with ideas to bring banned books “to the attention of the American public” after a “slew of books” had been banned that year. Krug relayed the information to American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee and the first Banned Books Week six weeks after. Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA), the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE), American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, National Association of College Stores, and endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.
Since 2011, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) has designated the Wednesday of Banned Books Week as Banned Websites Awareness Day. Their goal is “to bring attention to the overly aggressive filtering of educational and social websites used by students and educators. In the AASL’s 2012 national longitudinal survey, 94% of respondents said their school used filtering software, with the majority of blocked websites relating to social networking (88%), IM or online chatting (74%), gaming (69%), and video services like YouTube (66%).The AASL’s position is that “the social aspect of learning” is important for students in the 21st century and that many schools go “beyond the requirements set forth by the Federal Communications Commission in its Child Internet Protection Act.
It has been held during the last week of September since 1982. Banned Books Week not only encourages readers to examine challenged literary works, but also promotes intellectual freedom in libraries, schools, and bookstores. Its goal is “to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society. Offering Banned Books Week kits, the ALA sells posters, buttons, and bookmarks to celebrate the event.
Many educational facilities also celebrate banned and challenged books during this week, often creating displays and programs around the awareness campaign. Additionally, various booksellers sponsor activities and events in support of Banned Books Week. Some retailers create window displays, while others go further, inviting authors of banned and challenged materials to come speak at their stores, as well as funding annual essay contests about freedom of expression. Educational facilities and booksellers also sponsor “read outs,” allowing participants to read aloud passages from their favorite banned books.
Amnesty International also celebrates Banned Books Week by directing attention to individuals “persecuted because of the writings that they produce, circulate or read. Its web site documents “focus cases” annually which show individuals who have been reportedly killed, incarcerated, or otherwise harassed by national authorities around the world, and urge people to “take action” to help it in partnership with its “Urgent Action Network” by contacting authorities regarding human rights violations. They also provide updates to cases from previous years, giving a history and current status of people who have been allegedly persecuted for their writings. The cases include individuals from Azerbaijan, China, Cuba, Egypt, Gambia, Iran, Myanmar, Russia, and Sri Lanka. The event has been praised for celebrating the freedom provided by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.Public events where banned and challenged books are read aloud are commonly held to celebrate the event. The international event held by Amnesty International has also been praised for reminding people about the price that some people pay for expressing controversial viewsHowever most of the books on the list were simply challenged (primarily by parents for violence, language, sexuality, or age-appropriateness), rather than actually removed
Camila Alire, a former president of the ALA, responded that Banned Books Week highlights “the hundreds of documented attempts to suppress access to information that take place each year across the U.S.,” and that “when the library is asked to restrict access for others, that does indeed reflect an attempt at censorship. the American Christian right organization, “Focus on the Family” regularly challenges Banned Books Week, claiming that books are not really banned, and that libraries’ policies are anti-family. They say that the American Library association Has perpetrated the ‘banned’ books lie for too long and that they attempts to intimidate and silence any parent, teacher or librarian who expresses concern about the age-appropriateness of sexually explicit or violent material for schoolchildren.” Focus on the Family say that “parents have every right and responsibility to object to their kids receiving sexually explicit and pro-gay literature without their permission, especially in a school setting” and criticized the event for its “promotion of homosexuality to…6- or 7-year-old children against their will. The anti-gay group Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX) has similarly criticized the ALA for not using the event to champion ex-gay books or books opposing same-sex marriage in the United States. Some think that rhetoric surrounding Banned Books Week also conflates issues such as banning books in a public library versus a school library.