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Let Freedom Read: Read a Banned Book - Banned Books Week - Sept. 21-28

"Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech." Benjamin Franklin

Each September the American Library Association sets aside one week for the celebration of intellectual freedom and the First Amendment. Banned Books Week was created to highlight the importance of free speech and free expression. This freedom - the freedom to read - is continuously under attack both in the United States and around the world. Efforts are underway to censor the content of books and to remove "objectionable" books from school and public libraries. Books are challenged and banned for political, religious, social and sexual content.

This issue became even more important to me this year when the school board in the community in which I live removed three books from the Middle School library and restricted the use of three others. The books were deemed inappropriate for middle school children because they deal frankly with adolescent issues such as emerging sexuality. During the course of the debate words used to describe the books, the author and the books' supporters included deranged, sinful, abomination, hell-bound, disgusting, perverted, and anti-American.

Democracy is founded of a set of fundamental premises. One of these is that the ordinary citizen is capable of exercising critical judgment. Those who favor censorship assume the opposite. They believe that the public is incapable of differentiating between good and evil and that it is therefore their right and duty to make that determination for us.

In the case of my community, the censors have justified their actions by declaring that they are protecting our children. I believe that it is the responsibility of parents to supervise the reading materials of their children until they develop critical judgment. As a public library director, it is not my responsibility or right to act in place of or in the absence of the parents. I also believe that risking the loss of our freedom of speech and a free press is far more serious than any risk a child faces from reading the works of award- winning authors such as Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Judy Blume, and Robert Cormier.

For more information about Banned Books Week including lists of challenged books go to

"It's not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censordhip. As always, young readers will be the real losers." Judy Blume

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Latest reply: Sep 21, 2002

Bye, Harvey

I'm a little sad today. A former neighbor died yesterday. He and his wife were special people. Harvey retired in the early 80's. Instead of sitting on the porch and watching the world go by, he started a business and adopted two of his grandchildren when his daughter got into difficulties. He was always cheerful, always willing to lend a helping hand. I'm sure the old neighborhood will never be the same. So long, old friend. God speed.

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Latest reply: Aug 23, 2002

this and that

The weather here is miserable. With all the mad scientists floating around in the world you'd think someone would have come up with a bona fide rain machine by now. You can't seed clouds if there aren't any.

The houses on either side of me are occupied by retirees who are obsessed with their lawns. They mow two or three times a week. Set their mowers on the lowest settings. Always make my yard look unkempt. I'm happy to report that they now have dry yucky stubble whereas I have a green lawn in need of a trim. I feel vindicated at last.

My custodian at the library gave notice yesterday. He's having health problems. And two practically new computers went on the fritz. An expensive flat screen monitor that I was so proud of lost it's will to live. And I lost all the user profiles on another one. A local agency I was planning to partner with on a program funded with a federal grant went out of business. Now that has to be redesigned. And I got a call that another grant had to be recalculated and faxed immediately because I needed to find a way to spend an extra dollar. That's right. One dollar. Here I'm trying to save the government a buck and get penalized for it.

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Latest reply: Aug 22, 2002

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