October 1-7 is Banned Books Week: "Let Freedom Read!"
On Sept. 26, Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey issued a resolution in support of libraries. It was unanimously adopted by the Board.
The resolution stated that Arlington County and Arlington Public Library are an official "book sanctuary."
Chair Dorsey declared, "Arlington County libraries as book sanctuaries, committed to protecting banned and challenged books and the right of the residents of Arlington to read the books they choose without fear of suppression.”
The resolution reaffirmed Arlington Public Library’s commitment to give a voice to people whose identities and stories have traditionally been underrepresented, such as people of color, the LGBTQIA+ community and/or persons with disabilities.
According to Library Director Diane Kresh, “This year’s Banned Books Week comes with great significance due to the increased rise in books being banned in the United States as well as in the state of Virginia.”
From Jan. 1 to Aug. 31, 2023, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom documented challenges to 1,915 unique titles, a 20% increase from the same reporting period in 2022.
2022 saw the highest number of attempted book bans since the ALA began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago. The unparalleled number of reported book challenges in 2022 nearly doubled the 729 book challenges reported in 2021.
Banned Books Week (Oct. 1-7) was established in 1982 by the late Judith Krug, then director of the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom, in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. For more information on this topic, visit ALA’s Banned and Challenged Books website.
How can you help celebrate Banned Books Week and the Freedom to Read?
- Become informed on the topic by consulting resources such as PEN America’s overview of rising school book bans and ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.
- Commit to reading at least one challenged book. If you have a child or partner at home, ask them to commit to reading one, too. The family that reads together, thrives together.
- Stream the video recording of the recent Arlington Reads author event with Art Spiegelman (available until October 21) on the Arlington Public Library’s YouTube page.
- Share the Banned Books Week/Book Sanctuary reel on the library’s Instagram channel.
- Join Arlington Public Library for a “Challenged Books Trivia Night” on Oct 5 Quincy Hall Pints & Pizza.
- Read one of the books that have been recently banned or challenged in Virginia.
To put a spotlight on this important national issue, ALA encourages libraries across the country to participate in Banned Books Week: "Let Freedom Read!” to promote free and open access to ideas and information and to defend each person's right to read under the First Amendment.
For more information on Banned Books Week and Arlington as a book sanctuary, visit Arlington Public Library's website.