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'FREADom' banned book distribution celebrates free speech

Mary Pickels
| Friday, Sept. 14, 2018, 11:33 a.m.
Stacks of books fill the shelves of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Library branches and the ACLU of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh chapter, are partnering for the ‘FREADom’ event Sept. 23-29 to encourage the reading of banned/challenged books and support free speech and artistic expression.
Stacks of books fill the shelves of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Library branches and the ACLU of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh chapter, are partnering for the ‘FREADom’ event Sept. 23-29 to encourage the reading of banned/challenged books and support free speech and artistic expression.

As part of its 23rd annual celebration of reading, free speech, and artistic expression, the Greater Pittsburgh Chapter of the ACLU of Pennsylvania will distribute banned and challenged books around the city Sept. 23-29.

The ACLU has teamed with Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and the Book Fairies for “F READ om,” a series of free events in honor of national Banned Books Week.

“Self-expression is an essential part of the human condition and an essential part of the American experiment. 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,” Marshall Dayan, ACLU Greater Pittsburgh Chapter president, says in a release.

New or gently used banned books can be brought to a library book wrapping party at the library’s main branch at 12:20 p.m. Sept. 23, South Side branch at 6 p.m. Sept. 24, and Mt. Washington branch 6 p.m. Sept. 26. There they can be decorated 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, the release adds.

Participants are then asked to leave the books in parks, college campuses, coffee shops, museums and other public places for strangers to find, with accompanying social media announcements and clues about their locations.

Those looking to claim the books can follow #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, the release states.

F READo m 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 over 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.

“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,” Mary Frances Cooper, president and director of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, says in the release.

For a list of banned or challenged books, visit the American Library Association .

Details: 412-681-7736 or aclupa.org/FREADom

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, mpickels@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MaryPickels.

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