“The freedom to read … is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities … are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label ‘controversial’ views, to distribute lists of ‘objectionable’ books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals."
The American Library Association (ALA) and the Association of American Publishers first released The Freedom to Read Statement in 1953.
But it could very well have been written today.
Since the 1980s, the ALA has recorded thousands of book bannings and book “challenges” — which are efforts to remove or restrict materials in public spaces — in cities across the U.S. The list includes titles like The Holy Bible and To Kill A Mockingbird.
And book challenges have recently hit closer to home, too. Art Spiegelman’s acclaimed graphic novel, Maus, was removed from the McMinn County Schools curriculum; meanwhile, the Williamson County School Board voted to remove Sharon Creech’s Walk Two Moons from theirs.
At Nashville Public Library (NPL), we celebrate everyone’s Freedom to Read — to independently determine what you read (and don’t read) and to determine what your children read (or don’t read). After all, public access to a variety of ideas and thinking — not just the popular ones — is what our democracy is all about.
Today, we’re calling on everyone to celebrate intellectual freedom with us, with a free, special edition “Banned Books” Nashville Public Library card.
In the coming days, you’ll hear more from me about our effort to get 5,000 people to sign up for this card during the next month. I want to thank you for your support and friendship as we celebrate our cherished Freedom to Read.
Your Partner in the Freedom to Read,