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Free Library of Philadelphia
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FREE LIBRARY CELEBRATES NATIONAL BANNED BOOKS WEEK WITH READING AND DISCUSSION
PHILADELPHIA, September 1, 2010—The Color Purple; Of Mice and Men; To Kill a Mockingbird; The Lord of the Rings. Now considered classics, these literary masterpieces were all once the subject of controversy, and their placement in libraries across the nation was challenged or banned. On Wednesday, September 29, at 7:30 p.m., the Free Library of Philadelphia will partner with the American Civil Liberties Union and celebrate the freedom to read by hosting the annual Banned Books Reading at the Parkway Central Library, 1901 Vine Street. In honor of Banned Books Week, local celebrities will read selections from books that were once banned or challenged for their subject matter.
This year’s Banned Books celebration will be emceed by performance poet, Lamont Dixon. Guest readers include famed folk musician John Wesley Harding; local authors Greg Frost, Merrie Jones, and Dennis Tafoya; Scribe Video founder Louis Massiah; and “Philly Poe Guy” Ed Pettit. The Banned Books program will also include a discussion of the controversy over banned books and the freedom to read.
“Banning and challenging books is still unfortunately common today,” said Siobhan A. Reardon, President and Director of the Free Library of Philadelphia. “According to the American Library Association, U.S. libraries were faced with nearly 4,000 challenges to various books over the past eight years. So we celebrate the freedom of information and expression enabling us to read what we choose.”
Each year since 1982, libraries across the nation have commemorated Banned Books Week during the last week in September. According to the American Library Association, “Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them.”
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The Free Library of Philadelphia system consists of 49 branches, three regional libraries, the Parkway Central Library, and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. With more than six million visits annually, the Free Library is one of the most widely-used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia.