Banned Books Week 2002 -- Let Freedom Read!

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Again this year, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) will be a sponsor of Banned Books Week, the only national celebration of First Amendment rights. In 2001, over 1,000 independent booksellers and 2,500 libraries participated in Banned Books Week, and, once again, participating booksellers report that Banned Books Week is one of their customers' favorite promotions.

ABFFE makes Banned Books Week Kits available for free to all members of the American Booksellers Association who request it. The kit includes three posters and a list of books that have been challenged over the past year. ABFFE is also including its own anti-censorship poster featuring an image of Nazi book burning.

In addition to ABFFE, the sponsors of Banned Books Week are the American Library Association, the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the National Association of College Stores. Banned Books Week is also endorsed by the Center for the Book of the Library of Congress.

ABFFE members receive their Banned Books Week Kit automatically. ABA members who wish to receive a kit must request it. (The request can be sent through the ABFFE Web site at, by calling (212) 587-4025 or faxing (212) 587-2436, or by sending an e-mail to [email protected].) People who are not ABA members may order a kit for $40 plus shipping. (They may also wish to consider becoming an ABFFE member for $35, which entitles them to receive the kit as well as all ABFFE membership material. To learn more about joining ABFFE, go to In addition, more information about Banned Books Week can be found at

This year's Banned Books Week promotions will take place against a number of sobering signs regarding the state of free expression in the U.S.

Nationally, debate grows regarding the unknown effects of the U.S.A. Patriot Act, which allows federal investigators to obtain a search warrant for bookstore purchase records without showing that the person whose records are sought is suspected of committing a crime. Moreover, the warrant is issued under a gag order that denies the party subject to the order the right to reveal the fact that such a warrant has been received. ABFFE and other groups have recently filed a Freedom of Information Act request to discover how many subpoenas have been issued to bookstores, libraries, and newspapers under the Patriot Act. (For the full story, click here.)

In addition, nationwide, titles ranging from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series to Of Mice and Men and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings have been the targets of attempts to ban the books from libraries and school curriculums, according to the American Library Association. It's expected that thousands of bookstores and libraries nationwide will organize special displays and events to help raise awareness regarding the current threats to free expression and First Amendment rights.

"The ability to read, speak, think, and express ourselves freely are core American values," said Judith Krug, director of the ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom. "Not every book will be right for every reader, but the freedom to choose for ourselves from a full array of possibilities is a hard-won right that we must not take for granted in this country," said Judith Platt, director of the Association of American Publishers' Freedom to Read program.

"There has never been a more important time for booksellers to talk to their customers about the importance of First Amendment rights," ABFFE President Chris Finan said.