Celebrating Banned Books Week!

This week (September 24-30) marks the beginning of Banned Books Week! During this week, libraries, teachers, and bookstores all around the country encourage you to use your First Amendment rights and read banned and challenged books. 

Why do we celebrate Banned Books Week?

Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 by librarian activist, Judith Krug. Krug, in partnership with the American Library Association, wanted to draw attention to the issue of censorship after the group Moral Majority, led by televangelist Jerry Falwell, began challenging books in public and school libraries. Censorship incidents jumped from 300 in 1980 to nearly 1,000 in 1982. Banned Books Week was founded as a response to this quest for censorship and has been quite successful. In 2016, 323 challenges were reported to the American Library Association.

Book challenges (3)_0

Challenges do not always equal a ban. A challenge is the attempt to remove a book from an institution (i.e. schools and libraries), while a ban is the actual removal of that title. This distinction is important to consider. Challenging a book may, in fact, lead to an open discussion about that book’s themes and engage a community. However, if a challenge leads to a ban (it is the first step of a ban, after all), that discussion is cut off.

An argument may be presented that “banning” a book from a library doesn’t totally restrict access to that book. After all, Amazon exists, as well as a host of other retailers. But that’s the problem. Banning a book from a library restricts the FREE access of that book. Libraries exist to serve the entire community, including those who need free access to information. Judith Krug illustrated this point in 2002:

“Some users find materials in their local library collection to be untrue, offensive, harmful or even dangerous. But libraries serve the information needs of all of the people in the community—not just the loudest, not just the most powerful, not even just the majority. Libraries serve everyone.”

It is precisely because libraries serve everyone that one group cannot be allowed to decide what is offensive to everyone. Literature is an art form, and as such, it is subjective. It is our job as librarians to ensure that every member of our community has equal access to that art. As the old saying goes: “A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.”

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How do I celebrate Banned Books Week?

By reading a banned book, of course! Many books have been banned over the course of history, including classics like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Call of the Wild, and Beloved. You can find a full list of banned books that helped shape America here.

As discussed above, before books are banned, they are first challenged. The top ten challenged books of 2016 are listed below. Titles with links will take you directly to our catalog, where you can see if the book is available or place a hold!

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  1. This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
    Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, drug use and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes
  2. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
    Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, was deemed sexually explicit, and was considered to have an offensive political viewpoint
  3. George written by Alex Gino
    Reasons: challenged because it includes a transgender child, and the “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels”
  4. I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
    Reasons: challenged because it portrays a transgender child and because of language, sex education, and offensive viewpoints
  5. Two Boys Kissing written by David Levithan
    Reasons: challenged because its cover has an image of two boys kissing, and it was considered to include sexually explicit LGBT content
  6. Looking for Alaska written by John Green
    Reasons: challenged for a sexually explicit scene that may lead a student to “sexual experimentation”
  7. Big Hard Sex Criminals written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky
    Reason: challenged because it was considered sexually explicit
  8. Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread written by Chuck Palahniuk
    Reasons: challenged for profanity, sexual explicitness, and being “disgusting and all around offensive”
  9. Little Bill (series) written by Bill Cosby and and illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood
    Reason: challenged because of criminal sexual allegations against the author
  10. Eleanor & Park written by Rainbow Rowell
    Reason: challenged for offensive language

Go forth and celebrate your First Amendment rights!

You may want to read many of the banned/challenged books in these lists, or none at all. Celebrating Banned Books Week is as much about reading what you desire as it is about not infringing on the rights of others to do the same.

Let us know what banned or challenged book you’re reading in the comments below!

 

Sources: 

A. (2017, April). The State of America’s Libraries 2017. Retrieved September 19, 2017, from http://www.ala.org/news/sites/ala.org.news/files/content/State-of-Americas-Libraries-Report-2017.pdf

About. (n.d.). Retrieved September 19, 2017, from http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/about

Crum, M. (2015, September 28). This Is Why You Should Celebrate Banned Books Week. Retrieved September 19, 2017, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/celebrate-banned-books-week_us_56096a1ae4b0768126fe4cca

Jerry Falwell, Judith Krug, and the Origins of ‘Banned Books Week’. (2015, October 02). Retrieved September 19, 2017, from https://longreads.com/2015/10/02/jerry-falwell-judith-krug-and-the-origins-of-banned-books-week/

 

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Falling Back Into The Library

September is here! We know many of you are excited for the cooler weather, hot beverages, football, and pumpkin spice flavored everything, and we are too! Not only are we excited for Fall here at the library; we’re excited for the return of another season of great family programming!

The Summer Reading Program was super this year, and now it’s time to return to Story Time, Teen Scene, Toddler Exploration, Family Bingo, and two new raffles!

 

Children’s Programming

Beginning September 9, Story Times are back in session. We offer two different story times, each suited to different age groups. Tiny Tots is a story time for our youngest patrons and a caregiver. Enjoy stories, songs, fingerplays, and bubbles! Tiny Tots lasts about as long as their attention span–20-30 minutes, every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.. We encourage you to stay and play afterwards!

tiny tots
Kids enjoy dancing in the bubbles at Tiny Tots!

Our second story time, Bookworms, is designed for pre-K children ages 3-5 and their caregiver. Sing songs, listen to stories, play games, improve early literacy skills, and participate in art activities! Bookworms lasts a bit longer than Tiny Tots–45-60 minutes, every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. Go ahead…be a Bookworm!

Playing a fun game with our Children's Librarian at Bookworms!
Playing a fun game with our Children’s Librarian at Bookworms!

In addition to our two story times, we also offer a monthly program called Toddler Exploration. Toddler Exploration is all about–you guessed it–letting toddlers explore the world around them! Our children’s librarian sets up five different, self-directed hands-on stations for the little ones (18-36 months) to explore their senses. The theme changes each month, and September’s theme is ABCs and 123s. Come dressed to make a mess, September 11 at 10:30 a.m.!

Getting messy decorating cookies at Toddler Exploration!
Getting messy decorating cookies at Toddler Exploration!

 

Teen Programming

Not only do we offer programming for children, we also offer a fun after school activity for teens! Teen Scene meets for an hour, one to two Friday(s) a month. At Teen Scene, you’ll make art, perform experiments, play games, and hang out with your friends at the library. We even provide snacks! There’s no need to sign up; just check out our event calendar, and come to the library to enjoy! September’s Teen Scene is on September 18 at 3:30 p.m.!

Teens painted book ends, based on their favorite YA novels, to be used in the YA section of the library!
Teens painted book ends, based on their favorite YA novels, to be used in the YA section of the library!

Fun For The Whole Family!

We’ve covered children and teen programming, but what about something the whole family can enjoy? Enter Family Bingo Night! A very popular monthly event at the library, Family Bingo has a different theme each month, which the prizes reflect. This month, the theme is Family Movie Bingo, and the prizes are all great movies you can enjoy with your family! Family Bingo will be held September 17 at 6:00 p.m. Space is limited, so be sure to sign up at the circulation desk today!

Families enjoying programming at the library!
Families enjoying programming at the library!

 

In addition to Family Bingo, we also have a great raffle going on for the entire family! This year’s Fall Break Raffle offers a prize package of Two VIP Car Passes to African Safari Wildlife Park in Port Clinton, Ohio, Four Tickets to Muncie Civic Theatre’s Production of Into the Woods, Four Passes to Climb Time Indy, Tuttle Orchards Family Fun Pack: four passes to the Agrimaze, Kid’s Area, Hayride, and four free caramel apples, and Eight Coupons for a free custard cone at Culver’s. Talk about a great staycation! Tickets are $2.00 apiece, or three for $5.00. All proceeds go towards the 2016 Summer Reading program.

As if the Fall Break Raffle wasn’t enough, we’re also offering a great promotion if you sign up for a library card this month! September is National Library card Sign-Up Month, and we are offering each person who signs up for a library card a raffle ticket to win a Kindle Fire HD6! Current patrons, don’t worry! You will also be entered into the raffle if you refer someone to be a new member! This promotion will run from September 1 to September 30, with the drawing for the Kindle Fire HD6 will be held on October 1, at 10:00 a.m.!

As the year continues, there will be even more great programming to look forward to: 12 Weeks of Reading, Blind Date With a Book, holiday programming, and so much more! We love providing our patrons with these programs. There are some who believe libraries to be obsolete. What use would we have for libraries in our modern, digital world? Thankfully, we know that’s not true! Thanks to children’s programming, which improves early literacy and education, and teen programming which provides a safe after-school place for teenagers, and family programming which provides free entertainment to our community, we know that we’ll be around for a long time! We appreciate all of our patrons who make our library so great! If you’ve never been to your library, stop in, and explore all of your opportunities today!