By: Kristin Pekoll
Every year, from the end of December to early January, I start searching Pinterest for “printable calendars.” I put the current month on the fridge at home so my family can keep track of business trips, school events, book clubs, library book due dates, dentist appointments and visits from Nana. It doesn’t have to be special but I want it to be a little more attractive then just a grid from MS Word. But this year, I haven’t found anything that I really like. It’s all a little too generic and floral.
Then I started thinking… I can do this! Those simple calendar templates from MS Word can be customized and I enjoy playing with this kind of graphic design, so I put together a design that was simple enough to be used efficiently, gender neutral, but pleasing to the eye. My list of banned author birthdays is constantly growing and most likely will be until people stop banning books. (Don’t hesitate to let me know if I missed someone so I can add them next year.)
I stopped in at my neighborhood library. I had never used their printing services before so I stopped at the reference desk and was efficiently and pleasantly instructed by the reference librarian. Ten minutes and one quarter later I had a color printout of my calendar. I added the necessary January events and positioned it under the magnets. (Thank you, FPPL!)
Fast forward to this morning. My husband and I are shuffling around in the pre-coffee haze when he glances at the refrigerator and says, “I didn’t know that Tolkien was banned?”
In between taking down Christmas decorations and folding laundry, we were discussing Tolkien’s themes of Christianity and his devout Catholicism along with the irony of being banned for being “anti-religious.” His books were even burned outside of church in New Mexico in 2001.
It wasn’t until after coffee that I started to think of calendars as a tool to raise awareness of banned books, authors and the harms of censorship. A quick glance. A raised eyebrow. An innocent question. A perfect opportunity.
Whether you post the calendars in your office where you might pique a visitor’s interest or use them to schedule tasks with students or reference desk shifts, you are raising awareness of intellectual freedom. You are starting conversations.
Whether the calendars are part of your daily planner or a reminder to send “Happy Birthday” sentiments to authors on social media, it signifies your support of intellectual freedom and encourages others to talk to you about issues or questions that might come up. And if a colleague shares a challenge to a book they spot on your calendar, it’s a perfect time to talk about reporting the challenge to ALA and defending the right to read.
When censorship happens we need to break the cycle of silence. Talking about access to all ideas, challenging censorship, advocating for intellectual freedom decreases the power of those who try to control what we can learn from and empowers those around us who need support in tough situations.
To download the 2018 complete 12-month calendar for free, click the “download” link below the calendar viewer.
For more information about the banned authors, check out Banned Books: Defending Our Freedom to Read by Robert Doyle.
Kristin Pekoll is the Assistant Director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. Kristin communicates with state library associations on current book challenges and publications that deal with censorship, privacy, ethics, and internet filtering. She organizes online education and training on the freedom to read and how to navigate reconsideration requests and media relations. Kristin started her career as a youth librarian in West Bend, Wisconsin. In 2009, over 80 YA LGBTQ books were challenged over 6 months. While the library board voted to retain all of the books in this case, she learned the indispensable value of support and education for librarians. She continued to fight against censorship in Wisconsin as the Intellectual Freedom Round Table Chair. Kristin’s husband and kids have joined her in Chicago but they all remain true Green Bay Packers fans. She enjoys zombies, knitting, and the Big Bang Theory. Find her on Twitter @kpekoll.