Sunday, September 25, 2011

Library Lagniappe --- let's read dangerous books!!!

Library LagniappeI thought I'd do a library post that focuses on banned books, since it is Banned Books Week (9/24 - 10/1).  If you aren't already familiar with Banned Books Week, I'd encourage you to check out this link to ALA (American Library Association) and the Banned Books site.

As a librarian and a reader (I'm making that tiny distinction because not every librarian loves to read books.  Shocking, but true), I believe in reading books that have been challenged.  In my library, we put together a display every year to focus on these books and we have the display up all through the month of September (and I will say, our display totally kicks butt this year!).  The books we feature are ones that have been the targets of challenges or attempted bannings (in the majority of cases, books are not actually completely banned, although they may be restricted).   The whole point of our display is to not only draw attention to these books, but to also show how important it is that we celebrate our rights to read what we want (a/k/a/ our First Amendment rights).

Here are some statistics, courtesy of ALA
Over the past ten years, American libraries were faced with 4,660 challenges.

  • 1,536 challenges due to “sexually explicit” material;
  • 1,231 challenges due to “offensive language”;
  • 977 challenges due to material deemed “unsuited to age group”;
  • 553 challenges due to “violence”
  • 370 challenges due to “homosexuality”; and

Further, 121 materials were challenged because they were “anti-family,” and an additional 304 were challenged because of their “religious viewpoints.”

1,720 of these challenges (approximately 37%) were in classrooms; 30% (or1,432) were in school libraries; 24% (or 1,119) took place in public libraries.  There were 32 challenges to college classes; and 106 to academic libraries.  There are isolated cases of challenges to materials made available in or by prisons, special libraries, community groups, and student groups.  The majority of challenges were initiated by parents (almost exactly 48%), while patrons and administrators followed behind (10% each).
find this at The Book Smugglers

Now, have I read every book on that list of most challenged books?  No, although I have read most of them.  Do I love every book that I have read that happens to be on that list?   No --- but here's the important thing:  Just because I didn't like the book doesn't mean that I believe no one else should have the opportunity and right to read it.  Period. 

And frankly, if a book is challenged, it's a signal to me that it's probably an interesting read.  I like being defiant like that.  Yeah.... just call me Dangerous Librarian!

So, feel free to read what you want this week!!!    Read dangerous books!!  And don't forget to see if your local library has an interesting display going on!

2 comments:

Pepca said...

I completely agree with you - if someone doesn't like a book, it doesn't give him/her the right to take the opportunity of reading that book from other people. Everyone should be able to make their own opinion on books. I think challenging or banning the book actually works in the opposite way, people become even more interested in it because it is "forbidden fruit". At least I know I do.

Chelle said...

Hearing about "restricted" books is almost, though not quite, as sad a hearing about a banned book. Books have proper places, sure. I expect to find Steven King in the adult section since that's his main audience. But to restrict a book and have to ask for it is a little to Dark Ages for me.

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