2012-09-17: Banned Books Week Celebrates Its 30th Anniversary

In September 1981 the ASJA launched a nationwide campaign to combat censorship in the United States, dedicated to the First Amendment of the Constitution. We were alarmed by the removal of books and periodicals from libraries, schools, and newsstands. One highlight of our campaign was a read-out by prominent authors on the steps of the New York Public Library, where we wore red-and-white "I Read Banned Books" buttons.

The following year a coalition of organizations concerned with the freedoms of speech and of the press declared a Banned Books Week. Now ASJA's First Amendment Committee is proud to support the thirtieth anniversary of Banned Books Week. And we are still selling -- and wearing -- our buttons.

ASJA's First Amendment Committee
Claire Safran, Chair
Sally Wendkos Olds
Larry Atkins
Claudia Caruana
Cynthia Greenwood
Jeremiah Hall
Tim Harper
Russell Wild

For Immediate Release
September 17, 2012
Contacts below

Bill & Judith Moyers are honorary chairs of Banned Books Week Bill Moyers speaks out against censorship in new online video

Banned Books Week is Sept. 30 - Oct. 6

CHICAGO - Award-winning broadcast journalist Bill Moyers, and Judith Davidson Moyers, president of Public Affairs Television, have been named Honorary Co-Chairs of Banned Books Week (Sept. 30 - Oct. 6), American Library Association's (ALA) annual celebration of our freedom to read.

Bill Moyers, a long-time supporter of Banned Books Week, will appear in an online video addressing the importance of our freedom to seek and express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

"Censorship is the enemy of truth, even more than a lie," said Bill Moyers. "A lie can be exposed; censorship can prevent us from knowing the difference."

Moyers's video is part of the Virtual Read Out, an advocacy campaign to spotlight the harms of censorship of books in schools and libraries, and provide an opportunity for readers to demonstrate their support for the First Amendment by reading from their favorite banned or challenged books. The video will be released on Sept. 28 to encourage librarians, teachers, students and community members to stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.

Those interested in participating in the Virtual Read-Out can do so by uploading a three-minute video to a special YouTube channel located at www.youtube.com/bannedbooksweek. More than 800 videos were uploaded during Banned Books Week last year and included posts from highly acclaimed and/or frequently challenged authors Jay Asher, Judy Blume, Chris Crutcher, Whoopi Goldberg, Lauren Myracle and many more.

In one video submitted by Bookmans, an independent bookstore in Arizona, customers and staff recite a single line from challenged book that testifies to the importance of books, reading and freedom of speech while a light bulb shines overhead to encourage viewers to "turn on the light" to celebrate free expression.

In 2011, the American Library Association recorded 326 challenges to library materials. At the top of the most challenged list was a series of books written by Lauren Myracle in the form of text messages, including "ttyl, ttfn" and "l8r g8r." Other frequently challenged titles in 2011 included the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie, "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley and "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee.

For more information about book challenges and bans in your area, or a listing of Banned Books Week events sponsored by libraries, bookstores and other groups throughout the United States, visit the Banned Books Week website at www.ala.org/bbooks.

For more information about Bill and Judith Moyers, please visit billmoyers.com/about-us.

Banned Books Week is sponsored by ALA, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the National Association of College Stores, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, National Coalition Against Censorship, the National Council of Teachers of English, and PEN American Center. Banned Books Week is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and Project Censored.

Chris Finan
American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
(212) 587-4025, ext. 4

Barbara Jones
American Library Association
(312) 280-4222

Judith Platt
Association of American Publishers
(202) 220-4551

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