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Library News

By: Andrea Lhotka
For: Red Rock Newsa
Date: September 23, 2011

What Banned Book Is In Your Criminal Background?

Banned Books Week is an annual event promoting the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  It’s a time when booksellers and libraries alike bring attention to their common mission to supply books and information to meet the needs of diverse communities.

Sponsors of Banned Books Week are the American Booksellers Association; American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression; the American Library Association; American Society of Journalists and Authors; Association of American Publishers; and the National Association of College Stores.  It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. In 2011, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund; National Coalition Against Censorship; National Council of Teachers of English; and PEN American Center also signed on as sponsors.

Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting book challenges across the United States.  Indeed, not every book is for every reader; each of us has the right to decide for ourselves what to read, listen to, or view. 

Many notable classics have at one time or another been challenged or banned – books such as The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Lord of the Flies.  Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week.  Classic novels and literature often explore difficult ideas, but through these experiences the burdens of the human condition can be lightened, and we find tremendous inspiration.

Books are typically challenged with the best of intentions, usually to protect others, mostly children.  Attempts at censorship arise from a variety of motives by people of diverse points of view.  There is no one type of individual or group responsible.

Examples of reasons for challenging books include inaccurate, insensitive, racist, sexist, and violent content.  Groups that have attempted to sensor materials include religious, government, and advocacy organizations.  Historically, parents have initiated the greatest number of book challenges of any segment of society.    

Sedona Public Library will celebrate Banned Books Week from September 24 to October 1 with a display entitled “What’s in your criminal background?”  Patrons are invited to join volunteers and staff to have their mug shot taken with their favorite banned or challenged title.  Bring your own or select from the library books on display. 

On Monday, September 26 at 6:00 pm, the library’s Flicker Shack selection is a film based on the Laura Esquivel book Like Water for Chocolate.  This charming romantic fantasy centers on Tita, a woman with a remarkable talent for imbuing her culinary creations with an emotive flavor.  This book was challenged by a parent of a high school student in Wisconsin for “sexually explicit and inappropriate material.”   Show your support for intellectual freedom by participating in events during Banned Books Week at Sedona Public Library.

Andrea Lhotka
Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News and is also presented on: Gateway to Sedona and Sedona Biz.
Andrea Lhotka is Public Services Librarian of the Sedona Public Library.