This cover and label covers "The Hunger Games," and is one of the books on display for Banned Books Week. (Erin Plummer) (click for larger version)
September 25, 2013The Gilford Public Library is joining libraries across the country in recognizing books that have been banned or challenged throughout history during Banned Books Week.
The Adult, Young Adult, and Children's sections all have displays of books that have challenged in schools and libraries around the world. Yellow "Caution" tape marks the displays and some books in the Adult section are covered by paper bags to demonstrate the effects of banning books.
The display is part of national Banned and Challenged Books Week, held by the American Library Association. Gilford Library staff put together displays for the program, and are talking with patrons about banned books.
Assistant Librarian Molly Harper said the list of books came from the ALA Web site.
"We were trying to go through and pick some books nobody expected would be banned or challenged," Harper said.
The reasons why certain books were banned were listed on the ALA Web site, and on links the site provided. Some books in the adult section were covered with paper bags labeled with the reasons why the books were challenged.
The book with the label "Focuses on negativity" was "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley. The book labeled as "Anti-ethnic, anti-family, insensitive, violent, satanic" was "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins.
More banned books could be found In the Young Adult section, including "Foreverů" by Judy Blume, "Thirteen Reasons Why" by Jay Asher, and the "Twilight" series by Stephanie Meyer.
Children's titles have included "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak, "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White, "A Light in the Attic" by Shel Silverstein, and the "Harry Potter" series by J.K. Rowling among many others.
"It's just bringing to the forefront the freedom to read," said Children's Librarian Tracey Petrozzi.
Harper and Petrozzi said patrons have expressed curiosity with the displays and asked about their meaning. Petrozzi said a number of the banned children's books had been checked out on the first day.
Petrozzi said she has been talking with children and parents about the week and the display. She said there have been many books, especially classic books, that have been the subject of controversy in different periods of time.
Petrozzi said many of the banned books on the list reflect the times in which they were written, as well as the times where people took umbrage to the book. Petrozzi said a book such as "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" has subject matter and dialogue reflecting the time period in which it is set. While the language might have been considered normal for the 1800's, later generations became more sensitive to its content.
Additionally, she said while kids might think books such as the "Harry Potter" books are just fun fantasy, they do not take it any more seriously or read into it to the level that adults have.
Harper and Petrozzi said the program is a way to bring people's attention to the fact many books, including classics, are banned and challenged.
"We just live in a community where book banning really isn't a problem," Harper said.
Both Harper and Petrozzi said they were not aware of any requests or attempts to outright ban or restrict a certain book at the Gilford Public Library. They said if any person or the parent of a child has concerns with a book, they can address their concerns with the library director.
Both said most concerns that have historically been raised have had to do with the books content in relation to the age level of the reader. Harper said some books have been re-categorized by age after concerns were raised. Petrozzi said she has had conversations with parents if a certain book would be best for their child, especially for students who read above their grade level. Petrozzi said while a child might be able to read a certain book, the child might not be old enough or mature enough for the book's subject matter.
Overall, Harper said the library's practice has been that someone does not have to read a book they take objection to and not to ban any books outright.
"We have a very open policy; we want to keep the library as open and varied as we can," Harper said.
Harper and Petrozzi said the week is a way to celebrate the freedom to read.
"Hopefully, we're a country that gives you the freedom to read, and it's your choice, not someone else's," Petrozzi said of the week's message.
Banned and Challenged Books Week continues through Sept. 28.
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