Celebrate your freedom: Read a banned book
Sept. 24 through Sept. 30 is Banned Books week, an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and highlighting censorship still occurring today.
The Grand County Library District champions the Freedom to Read and adheres to the philosophy of Librarian Jo Godwin who said, “A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.”
Our library cardholders seem to appreciate this “free range reading” idea. Although the GCLD has a process for requesting a book or other item be removed from the library’s shelves, no formal challenge has been recorded at our public libraries in over eight years.
Nationally, however, hundreds of libraries face requests to remove books each year. Removal of library materials is a form of censorship.
Sexual explicitness and offensive language historically topped the chart for why books were challenged. But the aim is shifting to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) materials. In 2016, five of the ten most challenged books reported were challenged because of LGBT content. Who is making these requests? Parents rank first, at 42 percent, followed by public library patrons and school teachers/administrators.
The best advice to those who come across an offensive book, or library materials that are inappropriate for their children, is to talk about it. Use the book as a jumping off place to share your family’s values and your personal ideas about right and wrong.
But then close the book and return it to the library, where it will go back on the shelf. You may not see your values between the pages, but that does not mean someone else won’t find their values reflected there. That is the beauty of public libraries.
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