Archive for June, 2009

We recently received an email from Clelia Ines who works at Coronel Jose Felix Bogado school library in Campana, Buenos Aires, Argentina. We are excited to welcome Clelia and the students she works with to the September Project.

She wrote:

Me gustaria participar del proyecto. Estoy trabajando en una escuela rural de doble jornada en el paraje Rio Lujan de Campana Prov de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

La Biblioteca escolar pequeña y no actualizada pero hacemos mucho por formar lectores competentes envio fotos de un intercambio con el jardin de infantes 920 del mismo barrio.

Coronel Jose Felix Bogado Escolar Biblioteca 1

Coronel Jose Felix Bogado Escolar Biblioteca 2

Coronel Jose Felix Bogado Escolar Biblioteca 3


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“Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.” —Article 3, Library Bill of Rights

It’s difficult to imagine a world without F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye or John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. These classics have several things in common: they form the foundation for many high school English classes across the United States, they continue to influence generations of readers around the world and they have been the target of unrelenting censorship for the past century.

These three novels are only a few of the many books challenged by censors over the years who did not want their communities influenced by the ideas presented in them. Some books were challenged by schools as being unfit for minors and others have been banned by national governments. William Golding’s Lord of the Flies faced a complaint at an Owen, NC high school because it was “demoralizing inasmuch as it implies that man is little more than an animal.” Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was unsuccessfully challenged at Warren Township, IN schools for “psychological damage to the positive integration process ” and because it “represents institutionalized racism under the guise of good literature.” Copies of Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises were burned in a huge Nazi bonfire in 1933.

Considering how influential these works of literature have been on modern thought, it is frightening to imagine what our world would look like if censors had succeeded in eradicating these books altogether. What would life be like if the only books we had access to were the ones that authorities deemed “appropriate?” After all, who gets to decide what is “appropriate?”

Twin Hickory Public Library, Glen Allen, VA [from boingboing.net]

Banned Books Week

In response, the American Library Association (ALA) established Banned Books Week in 1982 to celebrate the freedom to choose and express any opinion, no matter how unorthodox or unpopular. For the past 28 years, libraries across the country celebrate annually by setting up displays of banned books, facilitating community discussions about censorship and creating interactive events for patrons to celebrate the freedom to read.

Many of our libraries celebrate Banned Books Week as part of their own September Project. Last year Campbell County Public Library System, in rural Virginia, featured an awesome display of Banned Books from the Long Island Coalition Against Censorship exhibit. Goffstown Public Library in New Hampshire, along with a Banned Books exhibit, held a “Create a Poster” contest for young adults to celebrate and appreciate American rights. They also awarded free copies of banned books to winners of their daily Banned Books Quizzes. Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon featured author and lawyer Steven T. Wax as the guest speaker in their forum, Cafe Banned: Celebrating the Freedom to Read.

This year, Banned Books Week will be September 26- October 3. We encourage you to host Banned Books events at your own library (you could even turn it into a month-long celebration), and we hope you will share your ideas with us! We’re very excited to hear about all of the fun and exciting new ideas you will incorporate Banned Books Week into your very own September Project!

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Goffstown Public Library

Each year, right around late spring and early summer, we hear from a librarian, eager to see her or his library on our map. We relish these communications, energized by the excitement jumping off of our monitors as we read on.

This year’s first email to us was from Sandy Whipple, Adult Services/Outreach Coordinator at Goffstown Public Library in Goffstown, NH. here’s a snippet from her email:

Greetings from New Hampshire. I hope this finds you well, inspired and ready to rock and roll. It’s that time of year when I begin looking just over the horizon past the hazy summer days that bring us to The September Project. Although I am surely not anxious to wish summer away with so little of it to enjoy, I do look forward to planning our project offerings. Before I immerse myself too far, I just need a little reassurance that TSP is alive and well!

Indulge this aging woman, will you? Let me hear from you so I can turn on our “green light”!

Well, we gave her–and everyone else–the green light soon after reading her email (check out her library on our map!). What made Sandy’s email even more fun was that we were on the verge of getting in touch with everyone when we heard from her, which was a perfect nudge to get us moving quickly.

Thanks Sandy, for your inspiration, your participation, and your invigoration. We look forward to seeing what inspired events Goffstown organizes this year!

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The September Project 2009!

It’s that time of year again, the time we get to say, with much excitement, WELCOME TO THE SEPTEMBER PROJECT 2009! This year will be the 6th annual September Project and we hope all of you will be part of it.

You can expect many more blog posts and announcements as the summer progresses but for now we wanted to announce three things:

First, as Sarah blogged about recently, we are thrilled to be working with three exceptionally smart and creative research assistants – Teresa Garcia, Samuel Hernandez, and Laura Plantholt – all students at the University of San Francisco. Teresa, Sam, and Laura will be helping us with all aspects of the project including our blog, our map of participating libraries, and our twitter feed.

Second, as we’ve learned from the past, most libraries sign up during August, once they have decided on their event, its time and date, etc. This year, we are asking all libraries that plan to host September Project events to let us know now (or soon!) so that we can put you on the map. Joining the September Project is easy: 1) email us at septemberproject AT gmail DOT com and 2) say, “PUT US ON THE MAP!” 🙂

Finally, we are interested in learning about your experiences during past September Projects. It’s easy: we’ll ask you 3-4 questions via email about your experiences and your library and then we’ll spotlight your library on our blog. If you are willing to participate, please email us ( septemberproject AT gmail DOT com ) – or leave a comment on this blog post – and one of us will be in touch shortly.

We are thrilled to launch The September Project 09 and are hopeful that you and your library will join us this year.

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This week, Darren Thompson at the Blue Island Public Library in Illinois posted on pub-lib about a teen program he runs at the library:

“We host a program called ‘Passport to ____,’ where the teens pick a different country each month and we visit that country using Google Earth, offer dishes from that country (cooked either in the Library – the teens like to watch us prepare them – or at home and then bring them in) and listen to music from the country. It’s been quite successful.”

This program could easily be a September Project event, where teens (or adults or children) could learn more about another culture. I love how he includes food, too! What would this look like at your library?

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Each summer brings new excitement around the Fall’s installment of September Project activities, and this year we injected a bit more energy into the project in the form of three whip-smart Research Assistants.


Teresa, Sam, and Laura convened recently with David and me to dream big about the project this year. Sam had ideas about using social media, Teresa took the lead on managing the new Who is Behind it? page, and Laura mused about creating a video that describes the project.

We expect great things from this group of USF students (keep checking back to see their progress) and we look forward to hearing more about what you’re planning this year!

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