Under Biblioteksdagarna 2023 kommer keynote-talaren Nadine Farid Johnson, chef för PEN America Washington och Free Expression Programs, att prata om bland annat förbjudna böcker i amerikanska skolor. Läs vår intervju med henne här nedan.

Under programpunkten ”Förbjudna böcker i amerikanska skolor” kommer Farid Johnson att prata om den fortsatta vågen av bokförbud i skolor och bibliotek över hela USA, något som bland annat Biblioteksbladet har rapporterat om. Hon kommer även att tala om faran för demokratin som denna censur innebär samt bibliotekariernas avgörande roll för det fria utbytet av idéer, öppen undersökning, förståelse och empati. Föredraget kommer att hållas på engelska.

– I am honored to be attending Biblioteksdagarna, both to be a part of an event with such cultural significance and because of the importance of this year’s theme of openness, says Farid Johnson.

Why is it important to talk about banned books?
– Book banning is an anti-democratic act; it is harmful to students; and it is an affront to the professionals who are trained to provide literature, non-fiction, and other reading materials to the students and public they serve. Bans are an act of government censorship, and in many instances are harbingers of further censorious actions to come. One need not look far to see the way in which book banning fits seamlessly into the agendas of authoritarians and their ilk, where bans stretch to entire topics, identities, histories, and religions.

The chipping away of the fundamental right to seek and receive information is harmful to students, undermining their education and creating an environment in which the free exchange of ideas is stifled, and in which the understanding of those ideas is itself impeded, says Farid Johnson.

– Book banning undermines the skill, training, and work of librarians and politicizes their critical role in our communities, to the detriment of these professionals and the children, teens, and adults they serve.

What has been your biggest challenge, working with banned books?
– We are truly facing a movement – a coordinated effort to ban books in schools. In the last school year, PEN America found over 2,500 instances of school book bans, which occurred in nearly 140 school districts across 32 different U.S. states, affecting over 4 million students. These data points do not include the rise in efforts to limit material available to adults, such as in university settings or in public libraries.

As a comment on what Farid Johnson think is the most important thing she wants the audience to take with them from the seminar, she expresses a wish for people to take the problem with banned books seriously:

– Do not underestimate the corrosive power these bans have on democratic principles, nor the power of all of us working together to combat this trend.

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