Banned Books Week: A Defense

Another Banned Books Week is coming to a close, and once again, my RSS feed has been filled with arguments for and against this most well-known library tradition. I’ve always been a supporter of Banned Books Week, even organizing events around it for the Simmons College community when I was chair of the Simmons Progressive Librarians Guild chapter. But I’ve never heard a better articulation for why it’s still important than the one Andy Woodworth at Agnostic, Maybe gives in his recent post.

The ALA estimates that one in four book challenges in libraries goes unreported, and in these cases, the librarians dealing with these challenges are also unsupported. There are many reasons a librarian might choose not to report a book challenge, and some of them might be perfectly reasonable. But the worst of these reasons is fear: Fear of losing a job, fear of bad publicity, fear of loss of funding. In these cases, a librarian might choose to simply remove the item in question, without consideration for what the loss of that material might mean for the community. It doesn’t mean that’s a bad librarian, it means that’s a fearful librarian.

Banned Books Week exists so that we can bring attention to the reasons to stand up for your community, and your library’s collection. It exists so that, in the future, those librarians might be able to find more support than they thought they could expect. I think that’s as good a reason as any to continue holding Banned Book Week events every year.

Andy articulates this much more clearly than I, so please, go read his excellent editorial on Banned Books Week.

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