Intellectual Freedom & Thomas Paine

Advocacy, Banned and Challenged Books, Freedom to Read Foundation, Office for Intellectual Freedom

To Begin the World Over Again: the Life of Thomas Paine

“The mind once enlightened cannot again become dark.” -Thomas Paine

AgeofReasonIan Ruskin, world renowned actor and playwright, has produced a film on the life of Thomas Paine, author of Common Sense, that will be aired on public TV this Presidential election year. Thomas Paine wrote about ideas that were so controversial he was often imprisoned and fined, and almost executed. His works were banned in Europe and anyone who distributed, read or discussed his books faced prosecution. Some were arrested for simply displaying a portrait of Thomas Paine. In the late 1700’s, he fled to the United States where he continued to write about slavery, religion, and independence from British government.

Starting this spring, Ian Ruskin is offering libraries an opportunity to provide Sneak Preview Screenings of To Begin the World Over Again: the Life of Thomas Paine. This is basically a prepackaged program for libraries to offer to their communities. For $50, libraries get the license to show the film as an event, DVDs to circulate in their collection, talking points, an action plan, recipes, and a publicity kit with posters, social media banners, and press releases. 10% of these proceeds will go to the American Library Association/the Office for Intellectual Freedom! When people order, they can request that the Freedom to Read Foundation send brochures free of charge for their patrons. It’s a great deal.

This is a great opportunity for libraries to support the ALA and Intellectual Freedom, AND they get a program out of it! (Libraries can also contact Ian Ruskin to book a Skype or Google visit.)

OIF is also working on scheduling Ian Ruskin to visit Orlando for Now Showing @ ALA Annual in June. Librarians will get the chance to personally witness how engaging and informative this program can be. There will be future IF blog posts that offer additional resources for libraries who are participating: booklists, display ideas, and local speaker contacts.

“These are the times that try men’s souls,” Paine began. “The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered;… the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value…. [I]t would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”

You can view the trailer on the website and here:


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