since 2004

About the banned librarian

The banned librarian blog is for librarians who support social justice and activists who love their libraries.

Amy Sonnie is the ‘banned librarian.’ Her young adult anthology, Revolutionary Voices, recently joined hundreds of literary classics, children’s books and young adult favorites on American Library Association’s list of Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books. Her second book, Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels and Black Power: Community Organizing in Radical Times, traces the untold history of poor white activists working alongside the Black Panther Party and Young Lords in the 1960s.

From 2001-2007, Amy served as Associate Director of the Center for Media Justice. Today she is a writer, editor and librarian living in Northern California.

Creative Common by-nc-nd Copyright information: (cc by-nc-nd). Feel free to leave a comment if you want permission to remix or expand on a specific resource.

  1. Amy,

    I can believe that about the Texas Youth Commission (I currently reside here). However, I was able to find a copy on Amazon (yay!). I was wondering since you live in Oakland, are you familiar with Narrative Magazine? They are a prize-winning online magazine (to which I personally subscribe)based out of San Francisco and they are working to promote new and emerging voices. They are in the middle of hosting three contests: Spring 2009 Story Contest, Narrative Prize and First Annual Poetry Contest. I thought you and your readers may find this of some interest. You can go to www.http://narrativemagazine.com for more information (deadlines, rules, etc). There are also cash prizes involved, which may be more of an incentive to check it out or submit work. ;-)

    Thanks,
    Natalie

  2. Hello, my name is Nathan Richie and I am the director of exhibits and programs at the McCormick Freedom Museum in Chicago. The Freedom Museum is a civics education division of the McCormick Foundation with a mission to demonstrate the relevance of the First Amendment and its role in the ongoing struggle to define freedom.

    This past month, the Freedom Museum created a brand new exhibit Libraries and the First Amendment. The exhibit explores the many ways that libraries are both bastions and battlegrounds of First Amendment freedoms. Libraries and the First Amendment has two main components. First is the virtual exhibit at http://www.FreedomInLibraries.org that features case studies, interactives, and comment boards. The second is a versatile poster show that transforms any public library into an exhibition space. The exhibit is offered as a free service to any library.

    I found your name and blog while doing a web search and thought that, as person who is intimately involved in museums and who shares opinions on libraries with colleagues, that you might enjoy learning about and exploring this new exhibit. I would also invite you to write a review about the show and, if you enjoy it, recommend the exhibit to your readers.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at nrichie@freedommuseum.us.

    Kind regards,

    Nathan Richie

  3. Hi Amy,

    I sent an email to you at an address I found online earlier today, but wanted to write something here as I think this is extremely important you be in the know. Your book, Revolutionary Voices, is being challenged at Rancocas Valley Regional High School’s Media Center (Mt. Holly, NJ), in addition to Love and Sex edited by Michael Cart and The Full Spectrum by David Levithan. The group that has organized the attempt to ban these books from our shelves are members of Glenn Beck’s 912 Project. After much research we have learned of their dissaproval of homosexuality and their agenda to have these books removed from school shelves. As you may know your book along with the two others is on a list of books recommended for teens by GLSEN, a group that Kevin Jennings, our Assistant Deputy Secretary for Safe and Drug-Free Schools, started when he was in college. This 9-12 group has created a huge smear campaign against Jennings in an effort to have him removed from office. Their attempt to remove these books from our shelves is an attack on the rights to intellectual freedom, discriminatory, threatens our right to the free expression of ideas and our access to knowledge of any kind. Please feel free to contact me if you wish; I’ll include my email in the field listed below.

    Respectfully, Emily Reilly

    • Emily,

      Thank you for alerting me. I have responded to your email separately. I am so sorry to hear RVRHS is facing these book challenges, but I do hope they spur a fruitful debate about the importance of information access for all members of a community. Not every entry in my anthology will speak to every reader. Not every book will speak to every student. But this does not mean the books should be removed. Dozens of young people AND parents have written to me over the past 10 years thanking me for this collection. The supporters outnumber the critics. Regarding Glenn Beck, no comment for now.

  4. Amy: Hope you still look at these! I’m writing to ask if you’d be at all interested in trying to get Revolutionary Voices back into print, or to offer a POD version, or, even better, a free ebook version. To make a long story short, I’m a librarian who blogs (in comic strip form) at http://shelfcheck.blogspot.com, and reviewed Revolutionary Voices for SLJ when it first came out (and nominated it for the best books category, which it easily made). I would be happy to try to round up contributors to see if they were interested, as I’m sure any contact information you had at the time of publication is no longer current. Please write me and let me know, as I’d like to act on this soon, if possible. I’m in the midst of writing a post about why Revolutionary Voices is still, a decade later (sadly) revolutionary. There is no other book that even comes close to it. Let me know.

    • Emily

      Thanks for writing and yes I would like to see the book back in print. I wrote to the original publisher about this a few months ago. October is the 10th Anniversary and about a dozen of the contributors are interested in planning an event/re-release. I will email you with more details.

  5. I’m a reporter, writing a daily story on the removal of Revolutionary Voices from a second library in South Jersey. If you’d like to comment, I can be reached after 5 p.m. Wednesday (EST) at 856-486-264. Email response is good, too.
    Thanks.

  6. Amy,
    I’d love to hear more about the plans for a re-release of the book (from the post earlier on this page), as well as your upcoming second book, and I’m hoping to get in touch to talk about some plans to edit a related anthology. Would it be possible to touch base by email? I would very much appreciate your thoughts.
    Best,
    Eva

  7. Hey Amy,
    We at UU Oakland are holding a National Coming Out Day celebration. We’d love to network with you to get this to be an event for all of Oakland. If this would be of interest, and if you’d be interested in participating, could you email me? I met you at an Ella Baker book club where we were reading your book.
    Thanks,
    Randall

  8. I love this page, as a hip-hop artist and librarian by day this is a page ive been frequenting for a while now…please continue the good work – Big Mickey Boston, conscious hip-hop for the Sustainable mind…

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