ALA celebrates Banned Books Week in virtual world

Contact: Nanette Perez

Program Officer, OIF


For Immediate Release

September 18, 2007

ALA celebrates Banned Books Week in virtual world

The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) is pleased to announce Banned Books Week activities for librarians and the general public in virtual worlds Second Life, Teen Second Life and on social networking sites MySpace and Facebook. ALA is working with other library partners to provide an interactive experience centered on Banned Books Week, September 29-October 6, 2007, to help librarians and others to feel comfortable in social networking spaces and to reach out to new audiences. Partners include Alliance Library System, Alliance Second Life Library, TAP Information Services and the new ALA membership group Virtual Communities and Libraries.

“Since 1982, Banned Books Week has been an opportunity for Americans to learn more about how censorship still occurs, explore a wide range of ideas and authors and celebrate our freedom to read,” said OIF Director Judith Krug. “Online communities present an ideal opportunity to reach out to new audiences and expand our programming.”

“We are thrilled to work with ALA on this exciting project,” stated Kitty Pope, executive director of the Alliance Library System. “It is important to get the word out about censorship and the impact banning books has on democracy and access to information.”

Second Life/Teen Second Life:

To tie in with this year’s theme of “Aye, mateys…celebrate your freedom t' read!,” ALA has created a “Pirate Paradise” in Second Life (SL), a 3D virtual world complete with pirate ship and a wharf with interactive displays on banned books. ALA Banned Books Week graphics will be used to create virtual posters, displays and T-shirts that can be worn by Second Life avatars. The Topeka and Shawnee County (Kan.) Public Library has loaned a virtual display on banned books they created for their National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Big Read initiative. All ALA Second Life activities will take place on ALA Arts InfoIsland.

On September 29, ALA will host a kickoff event in Second Life: a pirate's party with the theme “Arrgh Mateys—Celebrate Your Freedom t’ Read!” Later in the week there will be fireworks displays, book discussions and other intellectual freedom educational programs.

Throughout the week, visitors will have access to a professional welcome center, a listening station for podcasts, and an interactive classroom on one of the most frequently challenged books, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” An updated calendar of SL and real world BBW activities can be found at various SL kiosks and at

Second Life Programs scheduled to date are listed as follows (note: all times are in “SL” time, which corresponds to Pacific Daylight Time). Dates and times are subject to change:

  • September 29, 6–9 p.m.: Kickoff Pirate Party, “Aye, Mateys - Celebrate Your Freedom t' Read!” featuring a pirate ship, music, dancing, displays, fun and free banned books and posters

  • September 30, 7 p.m.: Fireworks

  • October 1, 5 p.m.: Book Discussion, “Of Mice and Men,” by John Steinbeck, moderated by Tom Peters of TAP Information Services (Second Life name Maxito Ricardo)

  • October 2, Noon: Fireworks

  • October 2, 5 p.m.: Book Discussion, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou, moderated by Tom Peters

  • October 3, Noon: Intellectual Freedom Program, “Frequently Challenged Books,” moderated by OIF Deputy Director Deborah Caldwell-Stone (Second Life name Pachelbel Dagostino)

  • October 4, 5 p.m.: Intellectual Freedom Program, "Challenges and Customer Service Opportunities," presented by Rose Chenoweth, Alliance Library System (Second Life name Enya Theas).

On Teen Second Life, there will be an underwater pirate ship/banned books display on Eye4You Alliance during all of Banned Books Week. On October 5, from 4–8 p.m. (Second Life/Pacific Time), there will be a “Dress as Your Favorite Banned Book Character” party also on Eye4You Alliance.

Social Networking Sites

ALA has set up a Facebook group for librarians and the public who want to share ideas, experiences, events and banned book recommendations. The name of the group is “Celebrate Your Freedom to Read! Banned Books Week 2007.” Beginning September 24, members of the “Celebrate Your Freedom to Read” Facebook group will receive a Banned Books “Challenging Fact of the Day.” All are welcome to join the group (search for Banned Books Week 2007).

ALA also has a MySpace page for Banned Books Week. The page features a blog about BBW activities, music, videos, photos from BBW events and more. The page can be found at

Second Life ( is a 3-D virtual world with over nine million residents. Over 200 colleges and universities are investigating Second Life as a distance learning tool and there are over 700 librarians in Second Life working collaboratively to test library services in a virtual environment. You must download Second Life software and sign up for an account to participate in Second Life; basic accounts are free.

Facebook ( is a social networking tool that connects people by interest, location and more. Members can share news about themselves and others, favorite books, pictures, movies and to meet other people who live and work around them.

MySpace ( is a social networking site offering an interactive, user-submitted network of friends, personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, music and videos.

For information on ALA Banned Books Week, contact Nanette Perez at For more information on Second Life events, contact Lori Bell at, in Second Life as Lorelei Junot or Tom Peters at or in Second Life as Maxito Ricardo. For more information on Teen Second Life please contact Kelly Czarnecki at Eye4You Alliance sponsored by the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.