In 1995, the Iowa City Public Library established the annual Carol Spaziani Intellectual Freedom Festival to honor its namesake’s 26-year career at the library and lifelong commitment to the freedom of ideas.
Intellectual freedom is a basic human right, defined by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and central to a democratic society. Libraries provide information, ideas and resources in a variety of formats, enabling an informed citizenry.
This year, the library is collaborating with Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center Reading Aloud, the University of Iowa International Writing Program and the School of Library and Information Science on Freedom Festival Programs.
This year’s festival highlights include:
Why books are banned — Explore censorship in libraries by participating in the library’s interactive first floor display and program. What book at the library do you find problematic? What book or film has offended you in plot, character or language? Stop by the Iowa City Public Library’s Intellectual Freedom Festival table to pick up an “I ban this book because …” label and place your book on the display. You may be surprised by what you and others would challenge. Writers from Iowa’s International Writer’s Program, library staff and members of the public will gather at 7 p.m. Sept. 26 to discuss what books and films were banned and why.
Banned Poems that Built America. From Whitman to Tupac: Senior Center Reading Aloud — Join the Reading Aloud Group from The Center and Iowa City Public Library staff at 1 p.m. Sept. 26 as they explore the subject of banned poems.
Documentary Film Screening: “Far Out Isn’t Far Enough — The Tomi Ungerer Story.” Tomi Ungerer, along with his contemporary Maurice Sendak, changed the landscape of children’s literature in the ’50s and ’60s with books adored by children and abhorred by adults. By the 1970s though, Ungerer’s works disappeared from bookstores and libraries when he began illustrating books for adults. Jennifer Burek Pierce, association professor at the University of Iowa School of Library and Information Science, will introduce the film with a brief history of censorship and children’s literature at 7 p.m. Sept. 27.
For more information on the Carol Spaziani Intellectual Freedom Festival and Banned Books week, visit icpl.org/iff
Maeve Clark is adult services coordinator at the Iowa City Public Library.