Start Planning for Banned Books Week Now

Banned and Challenged Books, Banned Books Week

By: John Mack Freeman

If you’re anything like me, the past two months have been a whirlwind. Summer reading, ALA Annual Conference, gearing up for the new school year, making plans for fall events, and probably much more. In the midst of all of this, everyone has their special projects and long-term plans that they are thinking about. Plus with fall planning already here, many of us are already finalizing our September plans. In all the commotion, though, don’t forget to plan for your library’s Banned Books Week activities this year!

Banned Books Week is from Sept. 24-30 this year.

Need some ideas for getting started? Use these questions to get you started!

  • This One Summer TamakiDo you have the Top Ten Challenged Books of 2016 in your collection to do displays, book talks or programs around? You can find the list on the Office of Intellectual Freedom website. The 2014 graphic novel, This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, tops the list for the first time because it includes LGBT characters, drug use and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes.
  • Have you reviewed the Banned Books Week Q&A and the Banned Books Q&A? Often, library users can be confused by banned books activities, thinking that all of the materials displayed were challenged or banned in that particular library. Educating yourself, your coworkers and your staff to intelligently discuss these issues is a vital part of making Banned Books Week a success for awareness raising and advocacy.
  • Have you purchased any Banned Books Week materials or swag you might need (or want)? The ALA Store has numerous posters, T-shirts, bags and more that you can use as part of your Banned Books Week activities.Official Banned Books Week ALA Store
  • Does everyone in your library know how to report a challenge to ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom? Reporting a challenge allows OIF to provide support and guidance during these often difficult and stressful times. Challenges can be to materials, programs, confidentiality issues, hate crimes or other sensitive issues.
  • Have you checked Pinterest for program and display ideas? Never doubt the skills of your fellow librarians to share a fantastic idea that you can adapt to your own situations.
  • Have you checked out this year’s webinar recording? or signed up to be a Rebel Reader Twitter Tournament partner?

Use the many resources available to you to make this Banned Books Week one of the best yet! Be sure to stay tuned to announcements from the Office of Intellectual Freedom with more details as we get closer to the date.


mackJohn “Mack” Freeman is the marketing and programming coordinator for the West Georgia Regional Library. He is a past recipient of the Freedom to Read Foundation’s Conable Scholarship, and he was a 2015 ALA Emerging Leader. He currently co-chairs the GLBTRT’s Stonewall Book Award Committee and is the second vice president/membership chair of the Georgia Library Association. He is interested in privacy, self-censorship, new frontiers of IF, and services to under-served communities. You can find out more about him at When not in library world, he enjoys walking Micah, the laziest blueheeler in the world, going on adventures with his husband Dale, and cooking Italian food from unintentionally snobby mid-century cookbooks. Find him on Twitter @johnmackfreeman.

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