The reasons people challenge books, in schools and in libraries, are numerous. Regardless, a surprising number of Americans, when faced with the right reason, are actually pro book banning. This is reflected in a recent YouGov.com poll, which asked what kinds of content in books should be banned, and in what settings.
In most book challenges, there is one book that is targeted, for very specific reasons. The reasons behind the challenge may not be unique, but, at the very least, they are reasons that are specific to the challenged book. Instead of one challenge for one book, Dixie County Superintendent Mike Thomas has issued a ban on all materials with, “profanity, cursing or inappropriate subject matter.”
With Banned Books Week coming up, it’s time to start building your reading lists and displays. While there is no shortage of banned books to promote, it feels, at this point in time, important to especially highlight works by authors from marginalized groups.
We are working in institutions that rightly center both access and privacy, and we may, at some point, be called on to actually, personally defend one or both. Make sure you know the laws in your area, know your rights, and come up with some plans for how you would handle any tricky run ins like the ones above. We have an obligation not just to the profession, but to our patrons to make sure that their rights are infringed upon while in the library.
A recent Pew poll indicates that a majority of Americans not only realize that they are often surrounded by misinformation, but also that the library can help them wade through it all.
If we are truly standing for intellectual freedom, which includes the freedom to read, we must also extend our efforts to people in prison. While outrage on behalf of censorship in schools or public libraries is easier in many ways, if we ignore this issue in Texas prisons, we are absolutely neglecting the over 2 million Americans imprisoned nationwide.
The House Un-American Activities Committee turned 79 in May. While it may be uncommon to acknowledge anniversaries on the 9th year instead of the 10th, and HUAC itself ceased operating in any way in 1975, given the current climate, it feels relevant again.
It’s clear that for many people, S.E. Hinton’s books were the first books they truly loved. Despite the challenges they’ve faced, her books have endured, and without her, we may not have the wealth of YA literature we have today.
It seems the upper Midwest has a problem with Sherman Alexie. Within one month, his 2007 novel ‘The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian’ has been challenged in two school districts.
On Feb. 21, PBS premiered ‘And Still I Rise,’ a documentary on the life of Maya Angelou. Using mostly archival footage and interviews with the author herself, it is an opportunity to learn about the author’s life largely in her own words, from her childhood in Stamps, Arkansas, through her years in New York and Ghana, up to her death in 2014.