Relax AARP Bulletin Readers, Librarians Do Not Celebrate Book Banning

September 15, 2010

I was tickled to death when I opened my September issue of AARP Bulletin and saw a full-page article about Banned Books Week. That was before the e-mails and calls flooded into the Office for Intellectual Freedom, demanding to know what business the American Library Association had banning books.

Turns out the article, titled "Banned," says "the list of books banned by American schools and libraries includes many of the classics" and presents a recommended reading list "prepared to coincide with the American Library Association's Annual Banned Books Week, Sept. 25–Oct. 2." Granted, careful readers might understand that Banned Books Week is a celebration of the freedom to read, but technically the article didn't say so, and consequently, many people took it the wrong way.

But here's my idea of the upside of this unfortunate misunderstanding: If Bulletin readers think the ALA was encouraging book banning, they damn well should raise hell about it. So bravo to all who contacted ALA to blast us for such a totally un-American notion. Join us at the Chicago Banned Books Read-Out and at libraries across the country on September 25 as we celebrate intellectual freedom by reading books that somebody wants us not to.


Qur’an Read-Out

Barbara Jones, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, and Leonard Kniffel, editor and publisher of American Libraries, held a 9/11 commemoration at the street entrance to ALA headquarters in Chicago, making  a statement to the world that librarians value reading, learning, and tolerance over book-burning, fear, and ignorance. Standing with them were Gerald Hankerson of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Kiran Ansari of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago.

Chicago Banned Books Week Read-Out 2010

Author Chris Crutcher opens the Banned Books Read-Out on Chicago's Bughouse Square with a tale of censorship.