Since 1990, the American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has recorded more than 10,000 book challenges, including 348 in 2010. A challenge is a formal, written complaint requesting a book be removed from library shelves or school curriculum.
About three out of four of all challenges are to material in schools or school libraries, and one in four are to material in public libraries. OIF estimates that less than one-quarter of challenges are reported and recorded.
It is thanks to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, and students that most challenges are unsuccessful and reading materials like Brave New World, Of Mice and Men, the Hunger Games trilogy, and the Gossip Girls series, remain available. The most challenged and/or restricted reading materials have been books for children.
However, challenges are not simply an expression of a point of view; on the contrary, they are an attempt to remove materials from public use, thereby restricting the access of others. Even if the motivation to ban or challenge a book is well-intentioned, the outcome is detrimental.
Censorship denies our freedom as individuals to choose and think for ourselves. For children, decisions about what books to read should be made by the people who know them best—their parents!
In support of the right to choose books freely for ourselves, the ALA and the San Juan Island Library are sponsoring Banned Books Week September 30 – October 6. This year's observance commemorates the most basic freedom in a democratic society - the freedom to read freely - and encourages us not to take this freedom for granted.
American libraries are the cornerstones of our democracy. Libraries are for everyone, everywhere. Because libraries provide free access to a world of information, they bring opportunity to all people.
Now, more than ever, celebrate the freedom to read @ your library! Read an old favorite or a new banned book this week.