Vermont Library Association Statement on Banned Books Week

This year the American Library Association (ALA) is holding its Banned Books Week from September 27th – October 3rd, 2015.  This annual event gives libraries the opportunity to highlight attempts to challenge, ban or restrict the use of particular books in library collections.

The Library Bill of Rights calls for libraries to provide materials “for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves” (http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill).  Sadly, some individuals and groups periodically feel that certain materials are not suitable for members of the user community to read or view.  Many such works address topics viewed by some as controversial, such as “sexually explicit” material, “offensive language”, violence and same-sex relationships.  Very often books that end up on the list of most frequently challenged or banned books are among some of the most acclaimed works of American literature, such as the Catcher in the Rye, the Grapes of Wrath, or For Whom the Bell Tollshttp://www.ala.org/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/classics/reasons.

Attempts to remove or limit access to ideas are contradictory to the Library community’s commitment to intellectual freedom.  We share the values from the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights  (http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill) that:

“materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.”

“materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.”

“libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.”

The Vermont Library Association stands by these principles, and we greatly encourage members of the community to visit their local libraries this week to see what events those institutions may be holding to raise awareness of the issue of book banning and censorship in libraries, or to visit the ALA’s banned book site herehttp://www.ala.org/bbooks/.


American Library Association:

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read

September 27−October 3, 2015

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. Check out the frequently challenged books section to explore the issues and controversies around book challenges and book banning. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted with removal or restrictions in libraries and schools. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.

For more information on getting involved with Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read, please see Ideas and Resources. You can also contact the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 4220, or bbw@ala.org.