Great Lakes Independent 
Booksellers Association

                              The First Amendment to the Constitution

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Censorship and freedom of artistic expression have always been issues of deep concern to those whose lives are involved with the printed word. Throughout the United States, a number of organizations are involved in protecting freedom of thought and expression. Several of these are listed below.

American Booksellers Association (ABA)
828 South Broadway
Tarrytown NY 10591
(800) 637-0037
fax (914) 591-2720
The American Booksellers Association (ABA), the national retail book industry trade association, has a long history of defending First Amendment rights. Perhaps the best-known ABA anti-censorship effort is Banned Books Week, a program aimed at spotlighting books that have been banned. The ABA also sponsors several other efforts in support of free expression, including seminars and conferences to educate booksellers about censorship issues, participation in court cases, and the publication of a weekly newsletter to keep booksellers informed about impending legislation and court cases.

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE)
139 Fulton Street
Suite 302
New York NY 10038
(212) 587-4025
fax (212) 587-2436
The goal of this organization, launched in 1990 by the American Booksellers Association, is to “inform and educate the booksellers, other members of the book industry and the public about the deleterious effects of censorship; and to actively promote and protect the free expression of ideas, particularly freedom of choice of reading materials.” The foundation is a co-sponsor of Banned Books Week and a sponsor of other events aimed at protecting First Amendment rights. The organization publishes ABFFE Update, an on-line newsletter dealing with censorship issues. In 1992, the foundation published the book Censorship and First Amendment Rights: A Primer. It also has publications on violence, pornography, and privacy.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
National Headquarters
125 Broad Street
18th floor
New York NY 10004
(212) 549-2519
fax (212) 549-2656
This national, nonpartisan organization is dedicated to protecting the principles embodied in the United States’ Bill of Rights. Activities include litigation, legislation, and public education. The Arts Censorship Project coordinates anti-censorship activities.

American Library Association, Office for Intellectual Freedom
50 East Huron Street
Chicago IL 60611
(800) 545-2433
fax (312) 280-4227
The Office for Intellectual Freedom coordinates ALA programs in the areas of intellectual freedom and censorship. A co-sponsor of Banned Books Weeks with the American Booksellers Association, the office seeks to educate librarians and the general public about the importance of intellectual freedom in libraries. A bimonthly publication, Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, is published by the office and includes an intellectual freedom bibliography.

American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA)
1501 Broadway
Suite 302
New York NY 10036
(212) 997-0947
fax (212) 768-7414
The professional rights committee of ASJA is involved in supporting the rights of free expression of individual authors. The committee sponsors the annual I Read Banned Books campaign.

The Authors Guild
31 East 28th Street
10th floor
New York NY 10016
(212) 563-5904
fax (212) 564-5363
The Authors Guild, a national society of professional authors, has long been involved in preserving and defending First Amendment rights. Since its founding in 1921, the guild has been involved in school book banning cases and has provided testimony before congressional and legislative committees.

Free Expression Network (FEN)
The Free Expression Network, founded in 1991, is a national coalition of organizations that include writers, artists, librarians, filmmakers, booksellers, video and recording store owners, publishers, recording producers, musicians, journalists, lawyers, distributors of expressive materials, and organizations and individuals united in the belief that free expression and free access to the expression of others is the indispensable precondition of liberty. The Free Expression Network believes that the protection of expressive freedom enhances the shared values of tolerance and diversity that underlie American culture. Perhaps no right guaranteed by the Constitution is more important to American society than freedom of speech; it is the foundation of all freedom. Speech lies at the core of our spiritual life, our creative achievements, our economic vitality, our scientific advancement, and is the very means by which we govern ourselves.

Freedom to Read Committee
Association of American Publishers
71 5th Avenue
New York NY 10003-3004
(212) 255-0200
fax (212) 255-7007
Affiliated with the Association of American Publishers, this committee is concerned with protecting freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. It analyzes individual cases of attempted censorship and may take action in the form of legal briefs, testimony, or public statements. It also educates the public about First Amendment issues by publishing reports and sponsoring public programs.

Freedom to Read Foundation
50 East Huron Street
Chicago IL 60611
(800) 545-2433
fax (312) 280-4227
The Freedom to Read Foundation, organized by the American Library Association in 1929, consists of librarians, lawyers, booksellers, educators, authors, publishers, and others concerned with preserving the rights of free expression and thought. The foundation provides legal and financial assistance to librarians and others who are involved in litigation to defend these rights.

Freedom to Write Committee
PEN American Center
568 Broadway
Suite 401
New York NY 10012
(212) 334-1660
fax (212) 334-2181
As a program founded by the PEN American Center, this committee is actively involved in protesting the harassment of writers worldwide. It fights book banning in libraries and schools around the United States and offers testimony in Congress on issues affecting writers. It is also a member of the steering committee on the National Coalition of Writers. The coalition has been engaged in campaigns to fight the anti-obscenity provisions of National Endowment for the Arts grants.

Media Alliance
Media Alliance
1904 Franklin Street, Suite 500
Oakland, CA 94612

Phone: (510) 832-9000 
Fax #: (510) 238-8557

Media Alliance was formed in 1976 by a group of media workers to unite the professional media community with the public interest communities of the Bay Area.

MA was founded with the belief that infrom covert or overt government control and corporate dominance. MA dedicates itself to fostering a genuine diversity of media voices and perspectives, holding the media accountable for their impact on society and protecting freedom of speech.

Media Alliance is a media resource and advocacy center for media workers, non-profit organizations, and social justice activists. Our mission is excellence, ethics, diversity, and accountability in all aspects of the media in the interests of peace, justice, and social responsibility

The Media Coalition, Inc.
139 Fulton Street
Suite 302
New York NY 10038
(212) 587-4025
fax (212) 587-2436

The Media Coalition is an association that defends the First Amendment right to produce and sell books, magazines, 
order to ensure the free and unfettered flow of information and ideas necessary to maintain a truly democratic society, media must be accessible, accountable, decentralized, representative of society's diversity and free from covert or overt government control and corporate dominance. MA dedicates itself to fostering a genuine diversity of media voices and perspectives, holding the media accountable for their impact on society and protecting freedom of speech.

Media Alliance is a media resource and advocacy center for media workers, non-profit organizations, and social justice activists. Our mission is excellence, ethics, diversity, and accountability in all aspects of the media in the interests of peace, justice, and social responsibility

Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)
15503 Ventura Blvd
Encino CA 91436

(818) 995-6600

Although its primary concern is reviewing legislation at the state and local levels that impacts motion pictures, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) monitors all legislation affecting First Amendment rights.

National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC)
275 7th Avenue
20th Floor
New York NY 10001
(212) 807-6222
fax (212) 807-6245

The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) is an alliance of national organizations that include religious, educational, professional, artistic, labor, and civil rights groups committed to defending freedom of thought, inquiry, and expression. Coalition activities include conferences, program assistance, advocacy, and the monitoring of legislation related to First Amendment rights. NCAC compiles and disseminates educational materials. The coalition’s Clearinghouse
on School Book-Banning Litigation provides up-to-date information on the status of school censorship cases. The coalition publishes a quarterly newsletter, Censorship News.

PEN Center USA West
PEN Center USA
P.O. Box 6037, Beverly Hills, CA 90212
phone: (323) 424-4939 | fax: (323) 424-4944

PEN Center USA, one of two centers in the United States and the third largest in the world, was founded in 1943 and incorporated as a nonprofit association in 1981. PEN Center USA’s membership of more than 800 writers includes poets, playwrights, essayists, novelists (for the original letters in the acronym, “PEN”), as well as television and screenwriters, critics, historians, editors, journalists, and translators.

PEN Center USA strives to protect the rights of writers around the world, to stimulate interest in the written word, and to foster a vital literary community among the diverse writers living in the western United States. The organization, therefore, has two distinct yet complementary aims: one fundamentally literary and the other having a freedom of expression mandate. Among PEN Center USA’s various activities are public literary events, a mentorship project, literary awards and international human rights campaigns on behalf of writers who are censored or imprisoned.

PEN Center USA endeavors to create a world in which freedom of expression is guaranteed for all writers, and where friendship and intellectual cooperation thrive among writers and readers worldwide.

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.

  • PEN Center USA defends and promotes freedom of expression throughout the world by advocating for the release of imprisoned writers, and for the protection of writers who suffer political prosecution, persecution, and censorship.
  • Through programming and services, PEN Center USA cultivates a diverse, dynamic and engaged literary community that includes emerging and existing writers, translators, editors, agents, publishers, booksellers, teachers, librarians, readers: everyone who loves and supports language and literature

People for the American Way
2000 M Street NW
Suite 400
Washington DC 20036
(800) 326-7329
fax (202) 293-2672

People For the American Way is dedicated to making the promise of America real for every American: Equality. Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. The right to seek justice in a court of law. The right to cast a vote that counts. The American Way.

Our vision is a vibrantly diverse democratic society in which everyone is treated equally under the law, given the freedom and opportunity to pursue their dreams, and encouraged to participate in our nation’s civic and political life. Our America respects diversity, nurtures creativity and combats hatred and bigotry.

We believe a society that reflects these constitutional principles and progressive values is worth fighting for, and we take seriously our responsibility to cultivate new generations of leaders and activists who will sustain these values for the life of this nation.

Our operational mission is to promote the American Way and defend it from attack, to build and nurture communities of support for our values, and to equip those communities to promote progressive policies, elect progressive candidates, and hold public officials accountable.

Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA)
16530 Ventura Blvd
Suite 400
Encino CA 91436-4551
(800) 955-8732

This nonprofit international trade association is involved in monitoring and preventing legislation that affects access to constitutionally protected material, particularly home videos. Activities of the organization include lobbying, filing briefs, and participating in lawsuits.


Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association
2113 Roosevelt, Ypsilanti, MI 48197
 (734) 340-6397

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