Celebrating Banned Books Week 2010

American Library Association - Banned Books Week poster 2010We’re revving our engines in anticipation of Banned Books Week 2010, which starts tomorrow and runs through October 2. Banned Books Week is a weeklong celebration of the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. The project is sponsored by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the National Association of College Stores. Libraries and bookstores all across the country will be rocking the freedom to Read What You Want, so make it a point to visit one in the next week.

The New York Times has prepared a helpful list of things YOU can do to celebrate. (It’s full of banned book factoids and lots of juicy links to resources online, so check it out.) I’d add one thing to their 10-item list: go to the Banned Books Week page on Facebook and “like” it so you can help spread the word to your friends.

Locally, the Durham County Public Library is getting things started with an event tonight combining live music and staged performances of banned literary material. Sounds like a scandalously good time!

We’ll be bringing you a special blog series next week, including some wonderful surprise guest posts from partners on campus who will be celebrating Banned Books Week and First Amendment Day, which falls on Thursday, September 30. First Amendment Day on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus will feature displays of banned books, a commemoration for killed journalists, and signs all across campus featuring quotes about the 1st Amendment (a project executed by beloved UNC Press blogging intern Alyssa!). And the day’s special events will include:

  • 9 a.m. The planting of a “liberty tree,” with speakers to include Jack Boger, dean of UNC Law School (and coeditor of School Resegregation)
  • 11 a.m. Debate and discussion about the “Ground Zero Mosque”
  • 12:15 p.m. Performances of controversial musical selections by campus a capella groups
  • 12:30 p.m. A public banned book reading (readers will include Chancellor Holden Thorp, coauthor of Engines of Innovation; the reading is organized by Erica Eisdorfer, manager of Bull’s Head Books and editor of the book Carolina)
  • 3 p.m. A one-hour preview of the upcoming PBS series “God in America”
  • 3 p.m. The Daily Tar Heel opens its planning meeting for people to come watch & participate in the planning of the next day’s issue of the student newspaper
  • 5 p.m. Documentary film and panel discussion about individual rights on the UNC campus
  • 7 p.m. Keynote address by the executive director of the Student Press Law Center
  • 8:30 p.m. UNC GLBTSA hosts a reading of children’s books banned from libraries because of their gay and lesbian themes

We’re delighted to see our own university campus coming out strong to promote public discussion of First Amendment issues and celebrate the freedom to read. Be sure to check in with UNC Press Blog next week for our special posts.

Your homework: visit a library or bookstore with a Banned Books Week display and THANK THEM for celebrating with you.

We’ll be back on Monday!