September 24th through October 1st, 2011, is Banned Books Week, the American Library Association’s annual event to celebrate intellectual freedom and raise awareness of the attempts made every year to challenge the inclusion of, and sometimes outright ban, books in library collections throughout the country.
“Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week,” says the ALA. “BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.” (via)
How can you participate? Well, ALA has lots of resources, including a handy lists of explanations and definitions, breakdowns of frequently challenged books and authors, and a slew of pages on how to deal with a challenge. But the best thing you can do is read and enjoy those titles that others would seek to have removed, speak out about and in favor of those books, and generally be aware of attempts to challenge them. Intellectual freedom is as basic a right as we can possibly have, and probably easy to overlook as a result. Be mindful of it, and if needed, be vocal in its defense.