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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 2005
Banned Books Week raises awareness of attacks on gay, lesbian-themed books
Librarians, booksellers, publishers celebrate freedom to read, Sept. 24–Oct. 1
(CHICAGO) Who decides what you will find freely available in your public and school libraries? Almost 25 years after its initiation, Banned Books Week (September 24–October 1) has special resonance as gay and lesbian-themed books come under attack.
Three of the 10 books on the “Ten Most Challenged Books of 2004,” compiled by the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom, were cited for homosexual themes—which is the highest number in a decade. These titles include:
In the wake of proposed legislation and resolutions in several states this year to restrict or prohibit access to materials related to sexual orientation, the ALA Council passed a resolution in June affirming the inclusion of materials that reflect the diversity of our society and encouraging libraries to acquire and make available materials representative of all people.
“The voices and stories of gays and lesbians cannot be silenced in our culture or on our bookshelves,” said ALA President Michael Gorman. “Banning books is an extreme disservice to our readers. Not only does it hinder tolerance and acceptance, it also limits the information exchange Americans hold dear.”
Thousands of libraries and bookstores will sponsor events and exhibits speaking out against attempts like these to censor books and celebrating the freedom to read during Banned Books Week. An Alabama librarian plans to bring author Chris Crutcher, whose book “Whale Talk” was banned in Limestone County schools, to discuss his books and experiences with censorship. South Dakota State University library hosts petitions calling for the release of imprisoned writers. And the first-ever Downtown Omaha Lit Fest will salute Banned Books Week with readings and an art exhibit. Observed since 1982, Banned Books Week reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom to read freely for granted.
The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom received a total of 547 challenges last year, up from 458 in 2003. Robert Cormier’s “The Chocolate War” topped the 2004 list—drawing complaints from parents and others concerned about the books' sexual content, offensive language, religious viewpoint and violence.
A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. According to Judith F. Krug, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom, the number of challenges reflects only incidents reported, and for each reported, four or five remain unreported.
“I believe the more we exercise our freedom to read and read widely, the better equipped we are to make good decisions and govern ourselves,” Gorman said. “Controversial ideas should be debated, not driven into dark alleys.”
Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Association of College Stores. It is endorsed by the Library of Congress Center for the Book.
To learn more and get involved, please go to www.ala.org/bbooks. To arrange interviews with Banned Books Week spokespeople, please contact Larra Clark, ALA Media Relations Manager, at 312-280-5043 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Macey Morales, ALA PR Coordinator, at 312-280-4393 or email@example.com.
|Banned Books Week 2005 Press E-kit, Public Information Office|