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Banned Books

History of Office For Intellectual Freedom (OIF)

In 1965, at an annual library conference, the Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) decided to create a branch organization to “promote and protect the interests of intellectual freedom” (para. 3). This branch became the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF). Since it was established in 1967 and until just recently, the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has only had 3 directors: Judith Krug, Barbara Jones, and James LaRue. This continuation of leadership has allowed for consistency in addressing censorship issues.

The mission of the OIF is to support communities who face challenges to their services and upholds the Library Bill of Rights. The OIF fights for free speech as well as being instrumental in decisions involving libraries and the internet and patron privacy. In 1967, after only 2 years since its formation, the OIF was receiving 250 communications a month requesting assistance on censorship infractions. In 2018, they received 483 communications challenging books and in 2021 we are up to 729, as stated in the news report. The office provides statements of support, helps to find speakers for meetings, researching books and library policies, contacting legal authorities, or simply visiting communities. 

In December 2017, the OIF celebrated 50 Years of fighting for intellectual freedom, so 55 this year. That’s over half a century of championing libraries, finding allies within the literary community, and aiding librarians in times of high anxiety. Since 2001, The Office for Intellectual Freedom has published lists of the most challenged books. The lists are compiled to inform the public about censorship that affects the community. According to the American Library Association, surveys have shown that 82-97% of challenged books receive no attention or remain unreported. Not all challenges make their way to the OIF. Most are revealed only after proceeding have started or have been completed.

References

LaRue, J. and Diaz, D. (2017, November 1). 50 Years of Intellectual Freedom. American Libraries. Retrieved from

https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2017/11/01/50-years-office-intellectual-freedom/

History of Banned Books Week

In the 1980s, the OIF launched Banned Books Week due to increased challenges and organized protests. Banned books were originally showcased at an expo in 1982 with a large towering metal cage on display with around 500 challenged books padlocked inside and a large sign cautioning that some people consider these books dangerous. That same year, 1982, the Supreme Court case of Island Trees School District v. Pico ruled that school officials couldn’t ban books in libraries simply because of their content. These events led to the creation of Banned Books Week. 

The week takes place every year in September, this year it is September 18 to September 24, and brings awareness to banned and challenged books and to stand up for the freedom to read. Stop by the library in the fall to see our display! 

It’s a national effort supported by librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers, that draws attention to the harms of censorship. Today’s mainstream media helps reach an estimated 2.8 billion readers and more than 90,000 people in the publishing world and library subscribers on this important topic.

References

LaRue, J. and Diaz, D. (2017, November 1). 50 Years of Intellectual Freedom. American Libraries. Retrieved from

https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2017/11/01/50-years-office-intellectual-freedom/

ALA's Statement

A recent statement by the ALA’s Executive Board about the efforts to censor books states, ““We stand opposed to censorship and any effort to coerce belief, suppress opinion, or punish those whose expression does not conform to what is deemed to be orthodox in history, politics, or belief. The unfettered exchange of ideas is essential to the preservation of a free and democratic society. Libraries manifest the promises of the First Amendment by making available the widest possible range of viewpoints, opinions, and ideas, so that every person has the opportunity to freely read and consider information and ideas regardless of their content or the viewpoint of the author. This requires the professional expertise of librarians who work in partnership with their communities to curate collections that serve the information needs of all their users.”

— THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION EXECUTIVE BOARD

References

American Library Association. (2021, November 29). "The American Library Association opposes widespread efforts to censor books in U.S.

schools and libraries." Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2021/11/american-library-association-opposes-widespread-efforts-censor-books-us