The ALA Wants You

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Vintage-inspired “It’s Eveybody’s Job” campaign poster copyright of the OIF.

The ALA’s OIF (Office for Intellectual Freedom) is calling on you. Yes you. Perhaps you’ve always wondered how the ALA compiles their Most Frequently Challenged Books List. Well, they rely entirely on readers like you. When reading material is challenged in your local or school library, you can report the challenge to the OIF confidentially. They then compile the data to create their list of banned/challenged books and figure out how best to counter attacks on intellectual freedom.

According to the ALA, it’s estimated that only a quarter of book challenges/bannings are reported. That’s where you come in. To raise awareness and encourage everday citizens to report challenges, the OIF has declared January 27th, 2013 to be “Sweater Vest Sunday.” On Sweater Vest Sunday, you can get involved by wearing a sweater vest, attending their event on Facebook, tweeting, pinning, and generally spreading the word. For more information on the event and how you can help, check out this article:

http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/news/ala/oif-designates-jan-27-2013-sweater-vest-sunday-support-intellectual-freedom

Remember, as in Fahrenheit 451, censorship does not necessarily come from the top down. While many governments have and do ban books, most banned books in the US are challenged by everyday citizens, whether its an outraged parent, a scandalized reader, or just someone deadset on keeping content or ideas away from others. It’s going to take the actions of everyday citizens to stand up to censorship and ensure access to the literary material others strive so hard to ban. As they say, the price of freedom is constant vigilance. Intellectual freedom is no exception.

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About boundandgaggedbooks

Shannon is a freelance writer and folklore buff. She has a degree from Hampshire College in Creative Writing/Mythology & Religion, with an emphasis on epic/oral traditions, their anthropological implications, and their modern counterparts. Her work can be found in Fabulously Feminist, Wolf Wariors: The National Wolfwatcher Coalition Anthology, The Concord Monitor, Redhead Magazine, and The Climax.

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