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    Get with the Banned

    Kim Mattingly                                                                                                                                                                                                          September is an important month in the world of libraries.  In addition to dedicating the entire month to promoting library card registration for children and adults, we’ve also set aside a week in which we celebrate and highlight our intellectual freedom.

    What is intellectual freedom, you ask?  According to the American Library Association (ALA), intellectual freedom is “the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored.” (Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Q & A)  In other words, libraries provide access to materials that appeal to everyone, and materials that express a variety of opinions on a variety of subjects.  Libraries don’t censor themselves based on what some may find objectionable.  Libraries uphold everyone’s right to read what they want, and refuse to remove material (or refuse to purchase material) just because someone else has objections.

    Founded and deemed “Banned Books Week” in 1982 by Judith Krug, the last week of  September has been set aside to celebrate our freedom to read.  Banned Books Week takes place both nationally and internationally.  Libraries use this week to remind every one of the importance of intellectual freedom, and encourage people not to take it for granted.

    ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) uses Banned Books Week to promote “awareness of challenges to library materials and celebrates freedom of speech.” (Banned and Challenged Books) Every year, the OIF compiles a list of books that are challenged (where an individual attempts to have the item removed from library or curriculum) or banned (item is actually removed from library or curriculum).

    Banned Books Week is September 22-28, 2013.  Please take advantage of your intellectual freedom, and help the DCPL celebrate Banned Books Week by checking out some of the Top 10 Challenged or Banned Books from 2012:

    • Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey                                             Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group
    • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.                                                                                                                             Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
    • Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.                                                          Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
    • Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.                                                    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
    • And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.     Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group
    • The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.                                                           Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
    • Looking for Alaska, by John Green.                                               
      : Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
    • Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz                                                   Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence
    • The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls                                                      Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
    • Beloved, by Toni Morrison                                                                            Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence

    You may also want to check out the Most Frequently Challenged Books of the 21st Century, which contains the lists of most challenged or banned books from 2000-2012.



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