Banned Books Week event celebrates F READ om
September 18, 2018
The Greater Pittsburgh Chapter of the ACLU of Pennsylvania will distribute banned and challenged books around the city for “F READ om,” its 23rd annual celebration of reading, free speech, and artistic expression.
“Self-expression is an essential part of the human condition, and an essential part of the American experiment,” explained Marshall Dayan, president of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the ACLU-PA. “We as Americans honor freedom of speech, and encourage it in the broadest possible terms. It serves our political, artistic, religious souls. Any attempt by government to curtail speech is a denial of human dignity.”
Interested participants can join by bringing a copy of a banned book - new or gently used - to a library “book wrapping” party at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh - Main Branch on Sunday, Sept. 23 at 12:20 p.m., Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh - South Side Branch on Monday, Sept. 24 at 6 p.m., and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh - Mt. Washington Branch on Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 6 p.m., where they will decorate their books with ribbons, stickers, and notes about the importance of protecting free speech and the perils of banning books to the people who will find them.
Participants will “drop” or hide their books for strangers to find in parks, college campuses, coffee shops, museums, and more, with accompanying social media announcements and clues about the books’ locations.
Community members can track down and claim these books by following #aclupabannedbooks and #ireadbannedbooks throughout Banned Books Week, or they can drop a book and wait for unsuspecting passersby to find it and learn about the ACLU and book banning.
All three event sponsors - the ACLU of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and the Book Fairies - share an interest in and actively promote freedom of speech and expression, even if one’s opinions might be considered unpleasant, unorthodox, or unpopular. F READ om stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of all viewpoints to all who wish to read them.
The Book Fairies launched in March 2017 and currently have almost 9,000 people sharing books in more than 100 countries. The Book Fairies share the joy of reading by leaving their books in public places to be found by the next reader. The books are found, read, and then hidden again.
“The Book Fairies believe in spreading the magic of reading to all corners of the world. A story can teach a reader something new, and censorship of stories can damage the freedom of an educated and informed society,” said Christy Bostardi, official Book Fairy for Pennsylvania. “We are proud to join the ACLU-PA to celebrate banned books and share the joy of reading with more people.”
“Freedom from censorship and freedom of expression are the values that guide the collections we provide, the programs we offer and the use of our spaces,” said Mary Frances Cooper, president and director of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
“Intellectual freedom is the basis for our democratic system, but to do so responsibly, our residents must be well-informed. Libraries preserve our democratic society by making available the widest possible range of viewpoints, opinions and ideas, so that all individuals have the opportunity to become lifelong learners - informed, literate, educated and culturally enriched.”