Think we don't need Banned Books Week anymore? Think again.

Peter from the National Coalition Against Censorship writes, "Some say book banning isn't even a problem anymore, so we should ditch Banned Books Week altogether. That's a terrible idea."

So there's strong evidence that there are far more challenges than are reported, and that those challenges affect institutions over the long run. Self-censorship, as the School Library Journal put it, is "a dirty secret that no one in the profession wants to talk about."

Over at BookRiot, librarian Michelle Anne Schingler recalls how even a challenge in a Georgia public library that 'lost' managed to create serious problems. "Libraries are a marketplace of ideas," she writes, "and if they're going to operate in a truly democratic fashion, all ideas should be represented." And that means making sure that voices considered unpopular or marginal are well-represented on the shelves. While things are in many ways better now than they have been in the past, she makes an essential point: "'Better than before' seems to me an inadequate measuring stick when we're discussing the availability of books, particularly in our schools and libraries."

And how did these free speech victories come about in the first place? Maddie Crum of the Huffington Post points out that Banned Books Week exists to "remind readers that information hasn't always been free." Indeed, if one really wants to argue that book banning is no longer a problem, we might want to give credit where credit is due: "Collectively, yes, the side of free information is on a serious upswing. But this isn't a naturally occurring phenomenon– as evidenced by our storied history of censorship, and the still-waging war against free expression happening elsewhere in the world." As Chris Finan put it: "Whatever the actual number of challenges, we can be sure that there would be many more if there weren't people all over the country resisting efforts to ban books. Booksellers have joined teachers, librarians, parents, students, and other concerned citizens in fighting back." That's exactly what NCAC's Kids' Right to Read Project does on a daily basis – fights to keep books in schools and libraries.


[Peter Hart/National Coalition Against Censorship]