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Memorial Hall Library

What is Banned Books Week Anyway?

It's Banned Books Week! For many of us librarians, this is a great week because we get to talk about one of our favorite topics: intellectual freedom. The right to seek and access materials and information for all points of view is an important part of librarians' code of ethics

Sometimes patrons mistakenly think that "Banned Books Week" means that the library itself is banning these books, but actually, during Banned Books Week we call attention to the fact that many schools and libraries face material challenges every year. A challenge to materials is often because some patrons dislike the content of materials and want those materials removed from the shelf. Complaints about the content of the material can range from the belief that those books are "unsuited to a specific age" group or because they have a particular set of religious views.

Of course, everyone has the right to choose what they want or do not to read. As of late, many young adult books specifically have been challenged because they happen to deal with sexuality or feature LGBTQ people. Some parents and other adults may not understand that these so-called "issues" are just parts of teens' lives and it's important for teens to read about them, understand them, and see their own lives represented in literature. The problem is when a person decides that they do not find the content acceptable and think the library or school should remove that title for everyone. These challenges are attempts to take away others' intellectual freedom and right to read. We don't want that - we want everyone to feel like they are supported in their pursuit of knowledge and information.

During Banned Books Week we call attention to these frequently challenged books and try to spark conversations about censorship and the freedom to read. Every year the American Librarian Association releases their list of the top ten most challenged books for the previous year. Some of these books can be seen in the graphic above but the full list from the ALA can be found here. Many of this year's titles are recent but in previous years many classics have been challenged or questioned. Such staples of school reading lists like The Catcher in the Rye, The Color Purple, and The Grapes of Wrath have all been challenged throughout the years.

If you'd like to read some of these "banned" books, visit the ladder display in the circulation area.