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Michael Bamberger wins Roll of Honor Award

Posted By Jonathan M. Kelley, Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Congratulations to Michael A. Bamberger, winner of the 2012 FTRF Roll of Honor Award!  Bamberger, who serves as General Counsel for Media Coaltion, will be presented with the award at the Opening General Session of the 2012 American Library Association Annual Conference, Friday, June 22 in Anaheim.

Tags:  Bamberger  Media Coalition  Roll of Honor 

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Ray Bradbury, icon of the freedom to read

Posted By FTRF Staff, Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Updated: Friday, July 27, 2012

We learned with sadness of the death of pioneering science fiction and fantasy writer Ray Bradbury. Bradbury will perhaps best be remembered for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451, which, nearly 60 years after its publication, remains one of the most important works of art about censorship—and a target of would-be censors.

Some of the challenges to Bradbury’s work, as recorded by the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) and published in ALA’s Banned Books Resource Guide by Robert P. Doyle:

Fahrenheit 451: Expurgated at the Venado Middle School in Irvine. Students received copies of the book with scores of words—mostly "hells” and "damns”—blacked out. After receiving complaints from parents and being contacted by reporters, school officials said the censored copies would no longer be used. (CA 1992)

Challenged at the Conroe Independent School District because of the following: "discussion of being drunk, smoking cigarettes, violence, ‘dirty talk,’ references to the Bible, and using God’s name in vain.” The novel went against the complaintants’ "religious beliefs.” (TX 2006)

The Martian Chronicles: Challenged at the Haines City High School due to several instances of profanity and the use of God’s name in vain in the work. (FL 1982)

Pulled and replaced with a newer version at the Herbert Hoover Middle School in Edison because a chapter contains the words "the niggers are coming.” The new abridged edition of the book omits the inflammatory story, titled "Way Up in the Air.” (NJ 1998)

The Veldt: Retained on the Beaverton School District’s reading list. The short story was challenged by a middle-school parent who thought its language and plot were inappropriate for students. Her biggest concern is that the story offers no consequences for the children’s actions. The short story is part of Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man anthology. It is twenty pages long and was published in 1951 as the first in the collection of eighteen science fiction stories.

OIF also has received notification of multiple challenges to Bradbury’s story "The Sound of Thunder.”

Fahrenheit 451 is the second selection of the FAIFE Book Club, co-sponsored by OIF and IFLA’s Committee on Freedom of Access to Information and Freedom of Expression. This international, online initiative will feature resources and events on the book through sum­mer 2012. For more information, visit faifebookclub.ala.org.

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Maurice Sendak, beloved and controversial children’s author

Posted By FTRF Staff, Thursday, May 10, 2012
Updated: Friday, July 27, 2012

On May 8, brilliant author and illustrator Maurice Sendak died. Sendak wrote In the Night Kitchen, one of the most frequently challenged books of the past 30 years due to a drawing featuring a nude boy. (It also has been defaced many times by librarians and others who drew shorts or diapers on Mikey, the book’s protagonist.) His Some Swell Pup was challenged at the Multnomah, OR, County Library because in it a dog urinates on people, and children abuse animals.

A side note: Sendak’s inimitable Where the Wild Things Are was a key part of one of FTRF’s more interesting cases of the past decade. Not because of a censorship challenge, however ... well, not an actual censorship challenge.

In November 2003, FTRF partnered with the Association of American Publishers and thirteen other groups in submitting an amicus brief to the Texas Supreme Court in support of a newspaper’s right to engage in political satire as a means of commenting on government officials’ actions. In the case, a judge and district attorney claimed they were libeled by the Dallas Observer, after the paper (an alternative weekly) published a fictitious article criticizing the officials’ role in jailing a 13-year-old boy for writing a school-assigned essay for Halloween, which discussed the shooting of a teacher and two students. The article recounted the jailing of a six-year-old girl for "suspicion of making a terrorist threat” in a book report on Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.

On September 3, 2005, the Texas Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of the Observer, saying the article was satire and protected by the First Amendment, and thus the officials could not sue for libel. The case was New Times, Inc. v. Isaacks.


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FTRF Board of Trustees election results

Posted By FTRF Staff, Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Updated: Friday, July 27, 2012

In the April election, five trustees were elected to two-year terms on the Freedom to Read Foundation Board:

Carol Brey-Casiano (Brasilia, Brazil) is an information resource officer at theU.S.Embassy in Brazil and is a past president of the American Library Association.

Julius C. Jefferson, Jr. (Washington, D.C.) is an information research specialist at the Library of Congress.

Mary Minow (Cupertino, Calif.) is a library law consultant and is Follett Chair at Dominican University's Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

Judith Platt (Washington, D.C.) is the director of free expression advocacy at the Association of American Publishers.

Nancy P. Zimmerman (Columbia, S.C.) is associate dean for academic affairs at The Graduate School, University of South Carolina.

Brey-Casiano, Minow, and Platt were re-elected. Jefferson and Zimmerman were newly elected (Jefferson served previously on the board as an ex-officio member due to his status as chair of ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee).

The newly elected trustees joined the following members to form the FTRF Board for 2012–2013:

Helen Adams

Jonathan Bloom

Chris Finan

Christine Jenkins

Herbert Krug

Candace Morgan

Ex-Officio members of the 2012–2013 FTRF Board:

Maureen Sullivan, ALA President

Pat Scales, ALA IFC Chair, 2011–2012

Keith Michael Fiels, ALA Executive Director

Barbara Stripling, ALA President-Elect

Barbara M. Jones is the FTRF secretary and executive director. The officers for 2012­–2013 will be selected at the FTRF Annual Meeting in Anaheim, CA on June 21.

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FTRF Board Approves Strategic Plan

Posted By Kent Oliver, FTRF President, Friday, March 16, 2012
Updated: Friday, July 27, 2012

At the Freedom to Read Foundation’s Midwinter Meeting in January, the Board of Trustees approved a strategic plan to help us map out our strategies for the coming years. We have reprinted the bulk of the plan on pages 4–5 of this issue of Freedom to Read Foundation News.

The entire plan, including background and details of our "SWOT” analysis, can be found at www.ftrf.org.

The strategic plan addresses five critical action areas: awareness, litigation, education, engagement, and capacity building. Specific objectives include strategies to increase FTRF’s membership both within and beyond the library world; to develop a more proactive legal strategy that will see FTRF taking the lead as the plaintiff in critical lawsuits intended to protect and preserve First Amendment rights; to expand FTRF’s educational mission; and to identify and mentor the next generation of intellectual freedom leaders. We have already begun the process of implementing the plan, with work underway toward a new and improved website, better membership materials, and educational programs for attorneys, librarians, and library students.

My thanks to ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels (who serves on the FTRF Board in an ex-officio capacity), Executive Director Barbara Jones, and the rest of the Board from the past two years for their hard work in producing what I feel is a vital road map for this truly irreplaceable organization.

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