When I look at the titles on the American Library Association’s banned and challenged books lists, I get goose bumps. If we worry about the state of the world as it is today, what would it be like if these books had never been read? If the ideas in these classic works had not been fully explored, what would society consider important, and what would we teach our children?
Some of my favorite books are on the lists: Beloved. Their Eyes Were Watching God. The Awakening. Anything by Judy Blume. (Yes, these are all female authors. Deal with it.) I shudder to think of what a boring place my mind would be if it hadn’t been opened to new ways of viewing the world through these works.
The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has been collecting data on challenged and banned books since 1990. The two most common reasons a book may be challenged are for sexually explicit content or offensive language. The data on particular titles comes from librarians, teachers, and media sources. Content in challenged books has been questioned by one or more individuals, with an attempt to remove or restrict access to the books. Banned books are those that have been removed from libraries. I urge you to visit the Office for Intellectual Freedom’s web page for more information and resources: http://www.ala.org/offices/oif
Defending intellectual freedom is one of the bedrock values of librarianship. I hope you will join us here at Rice Library as we celebrate intellectual freedom – and the freedom to read – during Banned Books Week, September 22-28, 2013.
-Marna Hostetler, Library Director