In light of recent attacks on the rights of LGTBQIA+ individuals and an increasingly toxic political environment, it’s doubtful that these concerted efforts to censor the speech of others will fade away anytime soon. Furthermore, librarians and their professional commitment to creating learning environments free from censorship almost certainly guarantees that they will face further challenges. Thus, the intention behind this list, even if it’s not entirely successful in communicating the breadth of ALA resources, is to provide a starting point for further exploration of intellectual freedom and the ways in which we, as librarians, can better advocate not only ourselves, but our communities as well.
We are used to seeing censorship attempts for heavy, controversial topics: drugs, LGBTQ+ themes, sexual content, religion, death, ect. But the Junie B. Jones series is aimed at young readers. She’s a kindergartener, worried about riding the bus on her first day of school and getting up to hilarious, albeit a bit questionable, antics. To what, exactly, are people objecting in these books?
A ban seems a bit like using a meat cleaver where a scalpel might be more appropriate. I’m also troubled by the potential message a TikTok ban sends; we want to encourage China to be more protective of and open to free speech, especially in light of the troubling shift toward censorship in Hong Kong. Can we really do that if we are banning their apps? By banning their apps, are we taking steps in that same direction?
“The right to make my own choice is fundamental to life, and intellectual freedom with the right to choose what to read is necessary to maintain what I believe is inherent to all of us,” says Salt Lake County librarian Wanda Mae Huffaker. In anticipation of National Library Week 2020 and the State of America’s Libraries report announcing the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2019, we share book challenge experiences, 2019 top challenged title predictions, and our passion for the freedom to read.
The increasing focus on privacy and antitrust issues, along with how to handle advertising via social media, could mean big changes on the horizon and librarians would do well to consider the potential implications and how we can help our patrons navigate and understand digital consumption.
Imagine you’re an author, in the middle of writing an international bestselling YA book series about vampires, when you find out that that same book series has been banned from one school district. Banned in its entirety. But wait. You’re not finished with the series yet. Is this school district really banning books…before they are even published?
A recent push by the FBI for US universities to monitor Chinese students is alarming – but this siren rings with a different tonality depending on your listening equipment. To Senator Mark Warner, it’s about national security. But to me, it sounds a whole lot like government-sanctioned censorship.
Since her first novel was published in 1967, S.E. Hinton has been beloved by youth for creating relatable characters and tenderly writing hard truths. Her books continue to be enjoyed by avid and reluctant readers, to be taught in classrooms, and to be challenged by would-be censors.
The works of Donatien Alphonse François (1740-1814), better known as the Marquis de Sade, were banned nearly-immediately upon publication by both the King of France Louis XVI and Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and remained so for over two centuries. Combined, his books have been banned for nearly 1000 years (more than 200 years apiece). Who was the man alternatively called the “Divine Marquis” and the author of the “most abominable book ever engendered by the most depraved imagination?”
The artist himself has submitted that the removal of his mural was a form of artistic censorship at its very worse and found irony in the asinine foofaraw of an institution charged with supporting and promoting art, quite conversely, destroying it.