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Banned Books Week

One of the great things done by our library associations, primarily ALA is Banned Books Week. This year it falls on Sept. 29-Oct. 6. Participate.
Another great initiatve is FREEDOM TO READ WEEK which falls next year from February 24–March 1, 2008.
These are the sorts of initiatives that make me proud to be a librarian.
One question though – Why are they so focused just on books? When are we going to talk about banned websites week? When are we going to point to the most draconian filters? When a small library bans a single book title – that’s awful and wrong – in my personal value system and under our professional ethics. But where’s the focal point for the discussion when an entire library system’s filter bans every website with the word ‘specialist’ on it because it the trademark ‘cialis’ is embedded in it? I know of many systems that banned all current affairs, government affairs, and business affairs websites becaise it contains the word ‘affaris’. Bad filters are truly the modern game of whack-a-mole. When are we going to engage in a week where we discuss what it truly means to our freedoms when whole web properties like Facebook, MySpace, Blogger, etc. are banned by entire school boards? Is speech restricted when instant messaging and e-mail are banned on some public workstations? When elected officials suggest banning all social web sites for all publicly funded entities, have they forgotten our rights (at least in Canada and the US)? At what age do our freedoms kick in? Is there a difference when an electronic book is banned vs. the print book? Will the filters be able to distinguish between books alone? I’m talking about the big issue of these rights and not the hot button issues of porn. I think it’s time for our community to re-align our projects and priniciples with the challenges of this new age.
Don’t suggest for a minute that I know the answers to these questions. It’s a personal opinion but I do think our associations are reaching the point where we’ll need a broader discussion of these challenges. Libraries might be the only ones who think about this and can make a difference.
Are we ready to expand our notion of banned books to the broader information world? What’s worse – banning Harry Potter or banning MySpace?
Are we able to take our bravery in print into the electronic world?
Stephen

Posted on: September 22, 2007, 10:37 am Category: Uncategorized