Tuesday, September 29, 2020

From the Director… Banned Books Week

Banned Books WeekI have been thinking about banned books week for a while. Should we have a display? Should we feature the books we have that have been banned? What exactly should we do about banned books week? Should we do anything?

The premise of banned books week comes from the idea that libraries are information hubs and they are not censored. Thus, the attention to banned books at a library is to bring attention to the censorship of these books.

Why is it these books are banned though?

Most if not all the books that find themselves on the banned/challenged list are books that cover in some way controversial subjects. Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer was banned because of racism. Harriet the Spy was banned because she wore boy clothes(sexuality?). The themes that find themselves on the list vary every year. This year 8 of the top ten are related to LGBTQIA+. The other two that are listed are Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood because of profanity and for “vulgarity and sexual overtones” and then the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling for referring to magic and witchcraft, for containing actual curses and spells, and for characters that use “nefarious means” to attain goals.

It is my belief that books are written not just for entertainment but also to challenge us with our ideals.

Who is it that banned them?

Books are banned or challenged by review boards, individuals, administrators, etc. People that feel they need to protect others. There are individuals and organizations that believe it is their place to ban books to protect children. In reality, this is the job of the parent(s) or guardian(s), not anybody else.

You might ask, why is it bad to ban books?

It is bad to ban books because it is censorship. Censorship goes against the First Amendment. Authors in the United States have the freedom of speech. This includes the written word. This points to who is it that is wanting to ban books.

All of this said. Libraries have books that cover many themes and subjects. The Jennie Woodworth Library strives to meet the reading needs of the community in White Bluff and the surrounding area. We do have books that cover controversial topics. Yet, we also do not promote these topics. We encourage you to research. To help with this, we have a search computer in the library that allows you to search a book (or DVD) and read the summary and subjects. We also have the online catalog that has the same information available.

My thoughts as the library director and understanding that the premise of a library is encouraging the freedom of information, banned books week is every week. In a library, our focus is equal access to information. The intent is to give everyone in the community access to information and literacy. This is despite any barriers that may exist. Because of this, libraries are unable to censor books just because somebody does not like them.

Pick up a book and read. 

Book titles that have been banned

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