Banned Books Week is an annual event that highlights the value of free and open access to information.
It was launched in 1982 in an effort to draw attention to the harms of censorship. This year, Banned Books Week 2022 will be held Sept. 18 to 24 with the theme ‘Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.’
To mark the occasion, the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) will be hosting three special events.
Free for all to join, the events aim to address an increasingly coordinated and political effort to remove books from the shelves of school and public libraries.
The three special events will also call attention to Books UnBanned, BPL’s nationally recognized program that provides young people across the nation access to free books.
Banned Camp will feature young people fighting on the front lines of censorship.
Teens from Austin Public Library’s Banned Camp initiative and BPL’s Teen Intellectual Freedom Council will discuss the freedom to read, the negative impact of book banning and ways people of all ages can fight back.
- Date: Sept. 20 at 6 p.m.
- Location: Virtual
Open Eyes: Banned Books, Kids, and the War on Reading
Across the country, school and public libraries are seeing a growing movement to ban books with racial and gender diversity to the page.
Books like Gender Queer, The 1619 Project and even a children’s biography of Rosa Parks are being removed from the shelves, creating a growing national tension between young people’s rights to read what they want and adults restricting access.
The battle pulls back the curtain on critical questions: How are library books chosen? What can rightfully be deemed obscene? What are readers’ First Amendment protections?
This session will feature:
- Joshua Block, a staff attorney with the National ACLU’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and HIV Projects who is currently involved in several banned book cases
- Linda Johnson, president and CEO of BPL
- Jeffrey Blair, co-owner of EyeSeeMe, an African American-themed children’s bookstore providing free copies of banned books to state residents
- Melissa Jacobs, director of Library Services for the NYC Department of Education
Washington Post reporter Hannah Natanson, who has written extensively on the subject, will moderate the session.
- Date: Sept. 21 at 6:30 p.m.
- Location: Virtual
The Battle for the Right to Read What You Want
Last month, Summer Boismier, a high school English teacher from Norman, Oklahoma, was suspended after she provided students with the link to BPL’s Books Unbanned initiative, which provides persons between the ages of 13 and 21 access to BPL’s digital collection.
The news of Boismier’s suspension and ultimate resignation went viral and her story became a lightning rod for those on both sides of the banned books fight.
Join Boismier for a conversation about this escalating debate and the stakes for individuals and society at large. She will be joined by 17-year-old Aren Lau, a member of BPL’s Teen Intellectual Freedom Council.
The discussion will be moderated by New York Times reporter Alexandra Alter, who writes extensively on issues of intellectual freedom and banned books.
- Date: Sept. 24 at 4 p.m.
- Location: Center for Brooklyn History, 128 Pierrepont Street. Proof of vaccination will be required, and masks strongly are encouraged.
For additional information on BPL’s Banned Book Week events, click here.
For more information on Banned Book Week, visit: bannedbooksweek.org.