Protect Your Rights

Celebrating the Freedom to Know

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James Madison once wrote that a “popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps, both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Madison, who is recognized as the “Father of the Constitution” and a staunch advocate of open government, is honored each year on his birthday, March 16, which is celebrated as National Freedom of Information Day.

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read

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Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. Check out the frequently challenged books section to explore the issues and controversies around book challenges and book banning. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted with removal or restrictions in libraries and schools. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.

Extremism @ the Library

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Bring up the subject of extremist literature and hate propaganda, and the first mental image most people are likely to have is of waves of protesters, livid Holocaust deniers, and the ACLU defending free speech. Curating such material takes a special brand of fortitude.

Radical literature that calls for destroying the status quo and hate speech that assaults various demographic groups may well be uncomfortable to read, but study of the human condition wouldn’t be honest or complete if it didn’t take a hard, thorough look into humanity’s darker corners. On the other hand, maintaining collections for that kind of scholarship without providing free publicity to precisely the wrong element can be a tricky thing.

Lemony Snicket Helps ‘Little Free Library’ Advocate Spencer Collins

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A Kansas boy battling through a series of unfortunate events over his front-yard library is getting some support from author Daniel Handler.

Last month, 9-year-old Spencer Collins erected a “take a book, leave a book” structure as a Mother’s Day gift and as an attempt to engage with his Leawood, Kan., community. But then the Leawood City Council ordered him to remove the small library from his front yard and even threatened the young librarian with fines.

Singapore bans gay penguin book

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Singapore has ordered the destruction of a children's book inspired by a real-life story of two male penguins raising a baby chick in New York's zoo after it was deemed inappropriate.

The National Library Board, which runs 26 public libraries in Singapore, pulled the book from the shelves this weekend and said it would "pulp" the copies of three titles, citing complaints their content goes against Singapore's family values.

The books are And Tango Makes Three, about a male-male penguin couple in the Central Park Zoo, The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption, which involves a lesbian couple, and Who's In My Family: All About Our Families.

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