What is Banned by the Bay?

Banned by the Bay is San Francisco's celebration of Banned Books Week, which takes place September 29 – October 6, 2012. Through partnerships with local authors, theatrical troupes, artists, organizations, bookstores, cafes, watering holes, and libraries, Banned by the Bay hopes to have some fun while shedding light on instances of bans and raise awareness about the roles intellectual freedom and open access play in upholding an educated and free society.

What is Banned Books Week?

Launched in 1982 by the American Library Association (ALA), Banned Books Week is: a national celebration of the right to read; a week to spread awareness about the dangers of censorship; a time to advocate for intellectual freedom and First Amendment rights; a call to support authors whose writing has been challenged for posing alternative or unorthodox views; and a huge thank you to the librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community who fight to make those views available to everyone.

Which books have been banned?

Each year, The American Library Association develops a list of the ten most frequently challenged books. In the past, this list has included The Great Gatsby, Lolita, Animal Farm, The Grapes of Wrath, Slaughterhouse–Five, and The Color Purple. To see the full list, visit the ALA's website.

Banned by the Bay takes place at venues throughout San Francisco, CA

The Great SF Read-Out

Saturday, October 1st at 7:00pm
Amnesia – 853 Valencia Street

Banned by the Bay will take over the bar Amnesia for a night of performance and celebration in the form of a read-out. Take the stage to read from a challenged book, sing a song about censorship, perform a dance inspired by your First Amendment rights, or do anything else that your creativity and courage can muster. We'll also delight in performances from BATS Improv and Word for Word starlet Patricia Silver. And, before the night is over, we'll create our own banned book with the help of San Francisco's favorite comedian, Will Franken, and animator/director Doug Sweetland.

Banned Books Expose

Sunday, September 25th at 1:00pm
San Francisco Public Library – 100 Larkin Street

Why do books get banned? Authors Jewelle Gomez, Michelle Tea, Rebecca Solnit, Alejandro Murguia and Oscar Villalon want to know. Join them as they read from their favorite banned books and discuss the rationale for censorship.

This event is made possible by San Francisco Public Library and PEN Center USA.

Let's Talk Freadom
at The Booksmith

Wednesday, September 28th at 7:30pm
The Booksmith – 1644 Haight Street

Join media lawyer Kirk Boyd at The Booksmith, a bastion of literary taste, for an insider look into battles over censorship and free speech and a discussion on the state of the First Amendment in our libraries and schools.

This event is made possible by the MRLC Institute and The Booksmith.

One Night Bookstand

Friday, September 30th from 7 – 10pm
Heart – 1270 Valencia Street

Brush off that dusty copy of Lolita and head over to Heart for a book swap celebrating the deviant. Bring books that are on the ALA's challenged books list, or with "questionable content," for an evening of scintillating conversation and free flowing wine. In addition to new reading material and budding friendships, you'll end the night with special offers and prizes.

The Booksmith

The Booksmith, in San Francisco's historic Haight-Ashbury since 1976, is full of the quirky, the compelling, the pleasurable, and the brilliant books it's known for, and continues to move forward in the new century, bringing great conversations with a myriad of writers to our community. Visit us online at www.booksmith.com

MLRC Institute

The MLRC Institute is a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit corporation created in 1988 to sponsor and support First Amendment education and research projects. Learn about MLRC activities on their website.

Project Censored

Since 1976, Project Censored has worked to teach students and the public about the role of a free press in a free society. As a media research program based out of Sonoma State University, Project Censored works in cooperation with faculty, students, the community, and independent media groups to research and identify national news stories that are underreported, ignored, misrepresented, or censored by the US corporate media. Each year, Project Censored publishes a ranking of the top 25 most censored nationally important news stories in a yearbook entitled "Censored: Media Democracy in Action," which is released in September. Recent "Censored" books have been published in Spanish, Italian and Arabic. For more information, visit

PEN Center USA

PEN Center USA's mission is to stimulate and maintain interest in the written word, to foster a vital literary culture, and to defend freedom of expression domestically and internationally. Visit penusa.org to learn more.

San Francisco Public Library

The San Francisco Public Library, Main Branch, is the resource center for the entire San Francisco Public Library system and the libraries of Northern California. Its large collection and extensive programs and exhibits support the Library's mission of "access to information, knowledge, independent learning and the joy of reading." For more information, visit sfpl.org

Will Franken

Armed with what The New York Times describes as a "highly developed sense of the absurd," and what Will Franken himself refers to as a "one-man American version of 'Monty Python's Flying Circus'" Franken brings life's inherent weirdness to the stage, poking fun at a broad range of cultural strongholds and character types. Since coming to San Francisco, Franken has been named "Best Comedian" and "San Francisco's Patron Saint of Misrule" by the SF Weekly and "Best Alternative to Psychedelic Drugs" by the SF Bay Guardian. He made his television debut on BBC America's "The World Stands Up." When he isn't performing his patented one-man theatrical absurdity, he produces his critically-acclaimed comedy podcast: "Things We Did Before Reality."

Word for Word

Word for Word Performing Arts Company is an ensemble whose mission is to tell great stories with elegant theatricality, staging performances of classic and contemporary fiction. Founded in 1993 by Susan Harloe and JoAnne Winter, Word for Word believes in the power of the short story to provide solace, compassion, and insight into our daily lives.


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Get Involved with Banned by the Bay

Banned by the Bay has a shoestring budget and relies heavily on generosity and karma. If you'd like to help out, in any capacity, please send an email to info@bannedbythebay.org.