Celebrating Banned Books Week in the Virtual World

Banned Books Week

Enya Theas

This year, OIF is working with the Alliance Library System, Alliance Second Life Library, TAP Information Services and the new ALA membership group Virtual Communities and Libraries to provide an interactive experience centered on Banned Books Week, September 29–October 6, 2007, on Second Life, Teen Second Life, MySpace, and Facebook. Our aims are to help librarians and others to feel comfortable in social networking spaces and to reach out to new audiences.

Update: We now also have a Banned Books Week group on Flickr to share photos from BBW events. See below for details.

Second Life/Teen Second Life

To tie in with this year’s theme of “Aye, mateys…celebrate your freedom t’ read!,” ALA has created a “Pirate Paradise” in Second Life (SL), a 3D virtual world complete with pirate ship and a wharf with interactive displays on banned books. ALA Banned Books Week graphics will be used to create virtual posters, displays and T-shirts that can be worn by Second Life avatars. (See example at this end of this post!) The Topeka and Shawnee County (Kan.) Public Library has loaned a virtual display on banned books they created for their National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Big Read initiative. All ALA Second Life activities will take place on ALA Arts InfoIsland. (Note: link is to Second Life URL.)

On September 29 (following the Chicago Read-Out!), ALA will host a kickoff event in Second Life: a pirate’s party with the theme “Aye Mateys—Celebrate Your Freedom t’ Read!” Later in the week there will be fireworks displays, book discussions, and other intellectual freedom educational programs. Throughout the week, visitors will have access to a professional welcome center, a listening station for podcasts, and an interactive classroom on one of the most frequently challenged books, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. An updated calendar of SL and real world BBW activities can be found at various SL kiosks and at www.ala.org/bbooks.

Second Life Programs scheduled to date are listed as follows (note: all times are in “SL” time, which corresponds to Pacific Daylight Time). Dates and times are subject to change:

  • September 29, 6:00–9:00 p.m.: Kickoff Pirate Party, “Aye Mateys – Celebrate Your Freedom t’ Read!” Featuring a pirate ship, music, dancing, displays, fun, and free banned books and posters
  • September 30, 7:00 p.m.: Fireworks
  • October 1, 5:00 p.m.: Book Discussion, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, moderated by Tom Peters of TAP Information Services (Second Life name Maxito Ricardo).
  • October 2, Noon: Fireworks
  • October 2, 5:00 p.m.: Book Discussion, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, moderated by Tom Peters
  • October 3, Noon: Intellectual Freedom Program, “Frequently Challenged Books,” moderated by OIF Deputy Director Deborah Caldwell-Stone (Second Life name Pachelbel Dagostino)
  • October 4, 5:00 p.m.: Intellectual Freedom Program, “Challenges and Customer Service Opportunities” presented by Rose Chenoweth, Alliance Library System (Second Life name Enya Theas – pictured above).

For more information on Second Life events, contact Lori Bell at lbell@alliancelibrarysystem.com or in Second Life as Lorelei Junot, or Tom Peters at tapinformation@yahoo.com or in Second Life as Maxito Ricardo.

BBW SL T-shirt

Teen Second Life

On Teen Second Life, there will be an underwater pirate ship/banned books display on Eye4You Alliance during all of Banned Books Week. On October 5 from 4:00–8:00 p.m. (Second Life/Pacific Time), there will be a “Dress as Your Favorite Banned Book Character” party also on Eye4You Alliance.

For more information about Teen Second Life events, please contact Kelly Czarnecki at kczarnecki@plcmc.org or in Teen Second Life as Saryn Farnwood. The Eye4You Alliance island on Teen Second Life is sponsored by the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.


ALA has set up a Facebook group for librarians and the public who want to share ideas, experiences, events, and banned book recommendations. The name of the group is “Celebrate Your Freedom to Read! Banned Books Week 2007.” Beginning September 24, members of the “Celebrate Your Freedom to Read” Facebook group will receive a Banned Books “Challenging Fact of the Day.” All are welcome to join the group (search for Banned Books Week 2007).


ALA also has a MySpace page for Banned Books Week. The page features a blog about BBW activities, music, videos, photos from BBW events, and more.


ALA now has a Flickr group, on which anyone can share photos from Banned Books Week events in their area. If you’re on Flickr, just upload your BBW event photo, join the BBW 2007 group, and click on “Send to Group.”

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