Organize a Public Event

Follow the example of Sandpiper Books in Calgary and make a public presentation of an Intellectual Freedom Award to a local writer, educator, or other person who has made a contribution to preserving intellectual freedoms in your community or region. (Sandpiper made its third annual Freedom of Expression award to Michael Dobbin, artistic director of Alberta Theatre Projects, which performed the controversial play Angels in America during its 1996-97 season.) The award could be presented by a school, bookstore, public library, or some other appropriate organization in your community.

Arrange a reading of the entire text of a well-known banned or challenged book during Freedom to Read Week. (For example, for several years, Margaret Laurence’s The Diviners was read in a number of cities across Canada, and Kevin Major’s Hold Fast was read to mark the 1995 Freedom to Read Week at the Canadian Children’s Book Centre in Toronto.) Ask local authors, media, politicians, and others to join in the reading. Make sure you advertise and promote the event to attract people to the reading.

Re-dedicate your library on Freedom to Read Day, which marks the beginning of Freedom to Read Week. Ask a local celebrity — a politician or author — to cut a censorship ribbon across the door. Include a proclamation in your ceremony. Lay a “cornerstone” by adding challenged materials to the collection. If your community has a town crier, an official mascot, or another public symbol, use this figure in your event in a way that presents an interesting photo opportunity to the media.

Post in a prominent position the Canadian Library Association’s Statement on Intellectual Freedom.

Arrange author readings during Freedom to Read Week. Invite writers to discuss intellectual freedom issues in the context of their own work and that of other Canadian authors.

Ask a writers’ association to provide one of its members to speak at your library, school, or bookstore during Freedom to Read Week. Encourage writers to talk about how important this freedom is to authors.

Arrange a panel discussion with local personalities, politicians, writers, artists, and teachers on “Key Books in Your Life.” Ask panel members to talk about a banned or challenged book that has had a strong positive influence in their lives. Invite the media.

Organize a panel discussion on an intellectual freedom issue that is particularly important in your area – access to environmental information, graphic AIDS awareness pamphlets, ineffective access-to-information laws, or explicit rap music lyrics.

Organize in your school an essay or speech contest on censorship issues. Have the winners give their speeches or read their essays as part of Freedom to Read Day. Encourage local media to publish the winning entries.

Play banned music; music as well as literature has been targeted by censors. Provide taped or live challenged music in your lobby or program room – for example, the work of 2 Live Crew, jazz, music by Jewish composers (banned by the Nazis), k.d. lang (banned by some radio stations for her support of vegetarianism), or bagpipes (banned as an instrument of war in Britain in 1745).

Establish a standing committee on intellectual freedom drawn from the school and/or community to monitor intellectual freedom issues and to plan special activities year round.

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