Every year the Freedom to Read Foundation awards libraries with grants to facilitate programming, outreach, displays and other promotional work around Banned Books Week. These grants are funded out of the Judith F. Krug Memorial Fund. This year’s banned book week theme is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.” and will take place at libraries, schools, and booksellers around the country on Sept. 26-Oct. 2, 2021. This year four public libraries and one school library were awarded grants.
The first of the five libraries to receive grants is Acadia Parish Library in Crowley, Louisiana. They plan to hold a parish-wide poster contest for K-12 students in order to increase awareness in the community about censorship and book challenges. Winners will be chosen at the elementary, middle, and high school levels with $100 for a first prize winner, $50 for second prize, and $25 for third. All poster entries will be displayed at the library through October and a community wide reception will be held.
Highland County District Library in Hillsboro, Ohio plans to use their grant award to hold a week-long Banned Book Festival. Some festival events include “Dear Banned Author” Day where patrons can write letters to their favorite authors who have had their books challenged. The Banned Book Discussion and Dinner which will cap off the festival on the Friday of Banned Books Week and be catered by local businesses. Patrons can earn raffle tickets towards banned book themed prize baskets by attending programming throughout the week long festival.
New Madrid County Library in Portageville, Missouri is using their grant award to hold an essay contest for middle and high school students with cash prizes for the first, second and third place winners. They also planned to create a display in a high traffic area in the library featuring recently challenged books in order to raise awareness to the fact that challenges to materials still take place in libraries and schools around the country.
Patchogue-Medford Library in Patchogue, New York plans to host a talk with author Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America where she will discuss free speech and the importance of debate and dialogue in a democratic society. They also have a number of passive programs planned as well including a banned book display where the books will be wrapped in paper and the reason they were challenged attached to the front, a mug giveaway for any patron that borrows a banned book, and a community “Hide a Book” activity.
West Lake Middle School and Northglenn Middle School in Broomfield, Colorado are the only schools to receive a banned book week grant this year. They planned to use their grant to teach their students about banned books by pairing them with primary sources in order to help students understand what was going on in the world at the time the books were published as well as the events that followed their publication. Teachers and staff will create videos about banned books that impacted them, and students will be able to access these videos by scanning QR codes on posters displayed throughout buildings in the district. These videos will also be included in a Goosechase Online Digital Scavenger Hunt, which students can earn prizes by participating in. For more information about the grant and past years’ recipients visit the FTRF Grants webpage.
Tayla Cardillo is the Branch Librarian of the Oak Lawn Branch Library in Cranston, RI. Before her current position she was a YA librarian. She completed her MLIS at the University of Rhode Island and her B.A. in English at Rhode Island College. Tayla has known that she wanted to be a librarian since she was 17 years old. When not doing library wizardry, she enjoys playing tabletop games and cosplaying.