Friday, September 18, 2009

From the Office for Intellectual Freedom

Is it fortune or misfortune that several of the books I use for research on my novel-in-progress have held spots on a list of banned books? The lists are compiled annually by the American Library Association’s (ALA) division of the Office for Intellectual Freedom to demonstrate that many books are either threatened or censored from suggested reading lists at various levels.

ALA’s annual “Banned Books Week” celebration begins soon. From the ALA:

“Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read” is observed during the last week of September each year. Observed since 1982, this annual ALA event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted. BBW 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. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where the freedom to express oneself and the freedom to choose what opinions and viewpoints to consume are both met. As the Intellectual Freedom Manual (ALA, 7th edition) states:

Intellectual freedom can exist only where two essential conditions are met: first, that all individuals have the right to hold any belief on any subject and to convey their ideas in any form they deem appropriate; and second, that society makes an equal commitment to the right of unrestricted access to information and ideas regardless of the communication medium used, the content of the work, and the viewpoints of both the author and receiver of information. Freedom to express oneself through a chosen mode of communication, including the Internet, becomes virtually meaningless if access to that information is not protected. Intellectual freedom implies a circle, and that circle is broken if either freedom of expression or access to ideas is stifled."

What is the fate of my work-in-progress if its research is based on several “banned” or challenged books? What author would want her book banned? On the contrary, while painstakingly composing and revising my novel, I can only hope that audiences would find my work so compelling, so provocative, so inspiring and so bold that the work might spawn controversy. Alas, in my dream state I'm getting a bit ahead of myself...

Join me, however, at an event next week to celebrate the written word: Thursday, Sep. 24, my good friend Grace Navalta hosts her monthly literary gathering at Me & My Friends CafĂ© in Pleasanton (6-8 p.m., 4713 First St., Pleasanton). Literary types from across the area will gather for a nosh and an opportunity to share their own written works (published or not). I may read a selection from my novel in progress. Alternatively, I may read from one of the notable, but challenged, books on the ALA’s list that helped inspire my novel in progress.


Jamie Renton said...

Hi Cameron,
The fate of your work-in-progress if it based on banned books is that I will most definately want to read it. I love banned books!

Looking forward to your book!


Kathy Cordova said...

Catcher in the Rye, here you come!

Send a copy to Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly. If you are REALLY lucky, they will rant their total disgust at your deviancy! The best PR!


Amy Moellering said...

Making the banned books list is a sure route to notoreity....and getting read! Keep working.