Library Links

Happy Friday, friends!  Here’s some library news floating around the internet:

-Have I mentioned yet that it’s Banned Books Week?  Well, you can get some banned and challenged books for free!  Here is a list of 18 “controversial” books, such as 1984, The Call of the Wild, and The Lord of the Rings, that are available for free in ebook form.  Also, you can enter to win 30 ebooks that have been banned/challenged/censored/etc.

-Over on Flavorwire, you can read some authors’ interesting responses to their books being banned.  I personally enjoyed the reactions of Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut; what do you think?

-Meanwhile, the Lawrence Public Library in Kansas asked local artists to submit artwork based on their favorite banned books.  All of the submissions are on display this week at the library (and online), and the library selected 7 to turn into trading cards.  They’ve been giving away one card each day, and this project has become so popular that you can also buy them!

-Obviously, Banned Books Week isn’t the only thing going on in the world.  After 7 years of litigation, publishers and Google have reached an agreement about digitized books and journals for the Google Library Project.  What do you guys think about this?

-With so much information available to us digitally, is there still a need for actual, physical libraries?  The answer is YES, and one person explains why here.

Have you found anything interesting lately in the world of books and libraries?  Let me know!

P.S.-Shameless plug time.  As of yesterday, I also blog for Information Space, the iSchool’s blog.  If you aren’t sick of my rambling on and on about banned books, check out my post over there.

banned books week: more than just books these days

So today is Banned Websites Awareness Day.  Just as a little refresher, most schools and school libraries in the United States use filters to block access to certain content on the internet.  The problem is that these filters can be incredibly restrictive and prevent teachers and students from accessing quality educational websites, as well as social networking sites that promote communication and collaboration.  As a result, one day of Banned Books Week is dedicated to raising awareness of banned internet content.

At this point, you may be asking why, exactly, this is a problem.  Don’t we have a responsibility to protect kids from all the unsavory content available on the dark and twisty interwebs?  And what about bullying?  If we don’t block Facebook, all the mean kids will gang up on the nerds, and we can’t have that.

These are valid points.  This is undoubtedly a complex issue, and it is absolutely necessary to create and comply with policies regarding acceptable, appropriate, and responsible use of the internet in schools.  The internet can be a scary place, and there are certainly websites out there that really aren’t appropriate for schools.

But many schools’ acceptable use policies are outdated, overly cautious, or inconsistent.  Some policies haven’t been rewritten in nearly a decade, and the internet has changed so much since then.  Some schools restrict access to Blogger, but not WordPress.  And some filters are so restrictive that legitimate educational resources are blocked!

One of the main filter targets continues to be social media.  Social networking sites can be used for bullying; however, they can also be used to ask questions, communicate assignments, or continue the class discussion.  They can get students engaged in a classroom activity.  And Pinterest, YouTube, and different blogs can be amazing resources for teachers and librarians; I know that I stole found some great ideas while I perused the blogs of other teachers.

On top of these things, when we restrict access to so much of the internet, we’re really doing students a disservice.  In this age of increased technology and digital information, they need strong information literacy skills.  If we simply filter out all that is bad, we aren’t teaching them the skills necessary to evaluate sources for accuracy and reliability.  Once they move beyond the land of filters, how will they be able to tell the good sources from the bad, if we haven’t taught them?

Filtering isn’t something that should be taken lightly or repealed unequivocally.  It is a complex issue, and there are certainly some positive aspects to consider.  However, we also shouldn’t sit back and allow increasingly restrictive filters to prevent teachers, librarians, and students from accessing valuable content and using social media to make education more engaging and relevant.  A discussion on the topic is necessary, and what better time to have that discussion than Banned Books Week?

Banned Books Week

Hello lovely readers! Today marks the beginning of Banned Books Week, which runs from September 30th to October 6th this year.  This is something that I think is still incredibly relevant and meaningful despite our current tendencies to seek information from digital resources.  When people attempt to ban books, they are trying to dictate what others are able to think, write and read, and this is a BIG problem, since freedom of expression is sort of protected by the Constitution and all.  Whether you prefer to get your information from good old-fashioned books or those newfangled e-readers or just your favorite website, you should have the freedom to decide what to read, what to think, and what to say about what you read and think.

Bottom line: Censorship=BAD. Intellectual freedom=GOOD!

Ok, I’ll step down off my soapbox now.  Meanwhile, if you happen to live in the central New York area and want to do something to participate in Banned Books Week, here are some local events:

-The Tomkins County Public Library is kicking off Banned Books week with a Freedom to Read Celebration on September 30th from 2-4 pm in the Borg Warner Room. This will feature a presentation by Ithaca’s writer in residence, human rights activist and journalist Sonali Samarasinghe.

-The Baldwinsville Public Library is hosting a Banned Book Week Freedom to Read Event on October 2nd from 12-1 pm in the Community Room. People can go just to listen, or can read aloud from a favorite banned book for 5-10 minutes.

-The Beauchamp branch of the Onondaga County Public Library is hosting a community read-out called “Black and Banned” on October 2nd from 3-6 pm. Community members are invited to read a short excerpt from a work by an African-American author that has been censored, or just go and listen.

-The Mundy Branch of the Onondaga County Public Library is hosting a read-aloud of passages from Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World on October 2nd at 3:30 pm.

-The Hamilton Public Library and the Colgate University Bookstore are joining together to host a Banned Books Week Read-Out on October 2nd at 7 pm. Head to the Hamilton Public Library’s community reading room to hear readings and discussion of banned books.

Not in central NY, or just not able to make one of these events?  No worries!  You could head over to the Banned Books Week website to see what events are happening in your area, or participate in a virtual read-out instead.

What’s YOUR favorite way to celebrate Banned Books Week?  Let me know in the comments, or find out what others are doing on Twitter at #bannedbooksweek.