Classics like "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," "The Catcher in the Rye," and "To Kill a Mocking Bird," have been removed from some library shelves due to challenges made by patrons.
Since 1990, the American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has recorded more than 7,800 book challenges. A challenge is a formal, written complaint requesting a book be removed from library shelves or school curriculum. About three out of four of all challenges are to material in schools or school libraries, and one in four are to material in public libraries.
It is thanks to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, and students that most challenges are unsuccessful and reading materials like "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," "Slaughterhouse Five," and the Harry Potter series remain available.
Challenges are not simply an expression of a point of view; on the contrary, they are an attempt to remove materials from public use, thereby restricting the access of others. Even if the motivation to ban or challenge a book is well intentioned, the outcome is detrimental. Censorship denies our freedom as individuals to choose and think for ourselves. For children, decisions about what books to read should be made by the people who know them best—their parents!
In support of the right to choose books freely for ourselves, please support Banned Books Week (September 27–October 4, 2008 ), an annual celebration of our right to access books without censorship. Banned Books Week commemorates the most basic freedom in a democratic society—the freedom to read freely—and encourages us not to take this freedom for granted. Banned Books Week reminds us that while not every book is intended for every reader, each of us has the right to decide for ourselves what to read, listen to or view.
America's public libraries are the cornerstones of our democracy. Libraries are for everyone, everywhere. Because libraries provide free access to a world of information, they bring opportunity to all people.
Support our libraries and help end the censorship of books.