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Banned Books Week Makes International Splash Across the Pond

CHICAGO, IL — Banned Books Week — an annual event that celebrates the freedom to read — is making waves across the pond. With support from the American Library Association (ALA), U.K. organizations have united to host Banned Books Week programs throughout London, demonstrating that censorship is not confined to the United States.

The U.K. Banned Books Week is led by Islington Library and Heritage Services, in partnership with the British Library and Free Word. The institutions were inspired by ALA to raise awareness about censorship, according to Tony Brown, the stock and reader development manager of Islington Library and Heritage Services.

“We all have common themes running through our organizations around freedom of speech and expression,” said Brown, “and Banned Books Week was the perfect opportunity for us to collaborate on a project.”

The U.K. Banned Books Week will kick off with a censorship discussion at the British Library with award-winning author Melvin Burgess, whose young adult novels “Junk” and “Lady: My Life as a Bitch” confront controversial subjects. His book “Doing It” is on ALA’s list of frequently challenged young adult books. At Free Word Centre — a hub for free expression programs and collaborations — graphic novel publisher Paul Gravett will explain the persecution of comic books.

The institutions will also circulate a list of 40 banned books from around the world, curated by Islington Library and Heritage Services, to U.K. libraries and reading groups. The selected books will be promoted at all Islington libraries.

“The plan, if successful, is to continue the partnership and plan for a fuller campaign next year, which will include bookshops and other library authorities in the U.K.,” said Brown.

The U.K. Banned Books Week runs in conjunction with the U.S. Banned Books Week, from Sept. 25 to Oct. 1. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom will host its annual Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out and support the hundreds of programs taking place in libraries, schools and institutions.

The Office for Intellectual Freedom is dedicated to educating librarians and the public about the importance of non-restricted information in libraries. Its Banned Books Week initiative invites communities to celebrate the freedom to express ideas, while drawing attention to the harms of censorship. For more information on Banned Books Week events and materials, visitala.org/bbooks

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