CHICAGO – In an extension of the observance of Banned Books Week, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) will highlight censorship awareness by designating Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011, as Banned Websites Awareness Day. By doing so, it is AASL’s hope to bring attention to the overly aggressive filtering of educational and social websites used by students and educators. For more information, visit www.ala.org/aasl/bwad.
“Many schools filter far beyond the requirements of the Children’s Internet Protection Act, because they wish to protect students,” explains Carl Harvey, AASL president. “Students must develop skills to evaluate information from all types of sources in multiple formats, including the Internet. Relying solely on filters does not teach young citizens how to be savvy searchers or how to evaluate the accuracy of information.”
According to a recent study undertaken by a team of researchers from the University of Southern California and the University of California, Berkeley, and funded by the MacArthur Foundation, today’s learners are using online media not just as social tools, but are engaging in peer-based, self-directed learning. Through digital media, youths are discovering a degree of freedom and self-paced learning that they may not be finding in a traditional classroom setting.
“School librarians understand that learning is enhanced by opportunities to share and learn with others. The use of social media in education, then, is an ideal way to engage students,” adds Harvey. “In order to make school more relevant to students and enhance their learning experiences, we need to incorporate those same social interactions that are successful outside of school into authentic assignments in the school setting.”
Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted banning of books across the United States. News, events and materials for BBW 2011 can be found at bannedbooksweek.org.
The American Association of School Librarians, www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library field.