A vocal group of citizens petition their public library to remove a book display with ideas that are objectionable to some patrons. A concerned parent lobbies their local school board to strike a controversial novel from the school’s curriculum. These challenges happen nearly every day across our nation.
This week, Transylvania University’s J. Douglas Gay Jr./Frances Carrick Thomas Library invites all members of the campus community to celebrate their right to read. Banned Books Week, which runs through Saturday, is an annual observance that highlights efforts to challenge or censor material in library stacks and displays.
The American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom tracks hundreds of challenges every year. Most of them involve materials in school libraries or assigned readings in a school district, but a significant number of objections also arise from the books that circulate from public libraries.
The theme of this year’s Banned Books campaign is “Books Unite Us, Censorship Divides Us.”
Jason Reynolds, a popular author of young adult fiction whose works have been the subject of challenges in recent years, serves as the honorary chair of this year’s Banned Books Week. He elaborates on the theme in a recent video:
“What does it mean when we say ‘books unite us’? It means that books can be the tethers; that books can connect human beings. They can connect us culturally. They can connect gender to gender. They can connect person to person. … These tools, these narratives, these stories are the things that we use to ground us in our humanity.”
Transylvania’s library affirms the propositions laid forth in the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement. In addition to trusting the public to recognize and reject propaganda and misinformation, librarians believe in leaving people to make their own informed decisions about the content they read and view.
The library invites the campus community to join the celebration by viewing our Banned Books Week display. In addition to a selection of banned and challenged books, the display will provide information on some of the challenges that have been received by schools and libraries in recent years. We invite you to celebrate your freedom to read by checking out a banned or challenged book.