Happy Banned Books Week, everyone! It’s time for the annual celebration of your freedom to read whatever you choose. According to www.bannedbooksweek.org, this special week “was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than a thousand books have been challenged since 1982.”
I know you’ve heard of the Bill of Rights. But did you know that there’s also a Library Bill of Rights? The American Library Association originally adopted it in 1939. It goes along nicely with Banned Books Week. Some of the juicy, important bits include:
I. 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.
II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
What does this mean to you, dear patron? It means that Fontana Regional Library is dedicated to promoting many different viewpoints and will probably provide something in one of our six libraries that you might disagree with. (I was told in graduate school that a librarian wasn’t good at buying library materials if at least 10% of them didn’t offend him or her.) However, it also means that we will defend your right to read what you want. We will not prevent you from checking out a book when you bring it to the desk, nor will we will purposefully restrict information from you. If that isn’t something to celebrate, I don’t know what is.
Your Fontana Libraries are proud to have displays at each location highlighting some of the books that have been challenged around the country. You’d be surprised what some people want to censor. Even classics like To Kill a Mockingbird have been the targets of attempted banning. A list of the most challenged books in the U.S. can be found at ALA’s advocacy page. Check out the list — what’s your favorite banned book?