Banned Books Week 2007, September 29-October 6, is sponsored by the American Library Association. Their list of the most frequently challenged books is instructive reading all by itself, as are the suggestions on ways to celebrate the freedom to read. No surprise, most involve reading (including blog reading).
My local public library is a Carnegie grant library, one of 1,689 in the U.S. (and 828 elsewhere). Even though it was basically charity, there was little stinting inside or out – the original copper roof was finally replaced in kind this summer. The trees have grown up around the building, so it's hard to get a good photo this time of year, but notice the copper penny color on top versus the 90-year-old patina on the window mullions.
More important than the bricks and mortar outside are the treasures inside – books, newspapers, periodicals, media, computers with Internet access – all freely available to patrons. When the library was built in 1914, the concept of free public lending and open stacks was considered daring, even dangerous. Judging from contemporary U.S. controversies as disparate as evolution, climate change, net neutrality, AIDS education, and HPV vaccination, there would seem to be plenty of would-be thought police with any number of agendas who still think so. In a global context, freedom to read is even more precious. It's no coincidence that dictators everywhere first seek to suppress, censor, ban, and burn books.
Thinking globally, October 3 is iWalk 2007, International Walk [and Bike] to School Day, which in the U.S. is sponsored by the National Center for Safe Routes to School. iWalk is a full month in some parts of the world, where the emphasis is on encouraging school enrollment. Roundabout prosperous Exit 151, the emphasis of the day is on reducing childhood obesity, reducing traffic congestion and speed, reducing fossil fuel emissions, and reducing stress! See who's walking in New Jersey, in the U.S., and globally.