know.jpgBanned Books Week, observed the last week of September every year, is defined by the American Library Association (ALA) as a week that "celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them" (American Library Association [ALA], 2006, para. 11).

JudithKrug.jpgJudith Krug, director of the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom until her death on April 11, 2009, was one of the founders of Banned Books Week in 1982. During a lecture at the Library of Congress in 2002 Krug spoke of how librarians bring people and information together:

  • We do this by making sure libraries provide information and ideas across the spectrum of social and political thought, so people can choose what they want to read or view or listen to. Since libraries provide information to all of the people in their community, we find, from time to time, that not all of our users agree with all of the material we acquire. Some users find materials in their local library collection to be untrue, offensive, harmful or even dangerous. But libraries serve the information needs of all of the people in the community–not just the loudest, not just the most powerful, not even just the majority. Libraries serve everyone. (Gottesman, 2002, para. 8)


What's the difference between a challenge and a banning?

As defined by the American Library Association:

  • A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the speak.jpgremoval of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection. (ALA, 2008, para. 1)

Book Bans and Challenges 2007-2009
This Google map shows locations where books were challenged in schools and libraries in the United States. View larger map/details

Links of interest
Books Challenged & Banned in 2008-2009
About Banned & Challenged Books
Top ten most frequently challenged books of 2008
Most Challenged Books of 21st Century (2000-2005)
Banned and/or Challenged Books from the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century
Kids' Right to Read Project Report
Banned and Challenged Books resources at

Other links of interest (blogs, articles, videos)

Judith Krug, librarian, tireless advocate for First Amendment rights, dies
Memorial video to Judith Krug
Banned Books Week: Should we still be celebrating?
Why Banned Books Week matters
Banned Books Read-Out, September 29, 2007, Chicago
2008 Banned Books Week Read-Out
Banned Books Week cartoons and videos
Celebrate Banned Books Week, September 26–October 3
US libraries hit back over challenges to kids books
A Pet Peeve
Attempts to remove children's book on male penguin couple parenting chick continue
Court Upholds Removal of “A Visit to Cuba” from Miami Schools; Decision to be Appealed


American Library Association. (2006). Banned Books Week Proclamation. Retrieved from

American Library Association. (2008). About Banned & Challenged Books. Retrieved from

Gottesman, L. (2002, June). Krug on 'Interesting Times': Free Speech Advocate Discusses Intellectual