Discover what you’re missing
“Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.” – Voltaire
“Every burned book enlightens the world.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
We’ll soon have a chance to show how much we appreciate our freedom to read what we wish, during Banned Books Week 2013 (Sept. 22-28). The observance, now in its 31st year, is a time to highlight the value of free and open access to information. It is a time when the entire book community (libraries, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers and readers) come together in shared support of the freedom to seek and express ideas – even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.
As a library, our duty is to provide open access to information – ALL information – to all people. We even have a mandate from the Library Bill of Rights, Article 3, which reads “Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.”
We accept that task, happily. The annual celebration of banned books is one of our favorites. This year, Boyd County Public Library has several ways you can get involved. First, you can test your knowledge of banned books by participating in our contest at each branch. Just look for the display of books wrapped in brown paper, and see if you can guess the book title based on the quote written on the outside. The winner, at each of our three branches, will receive a banned book (or audio book) of their choice.
We’re also celebrating online, with a contest on the BCPL Instagram page. All you have to do is take a picture of yourself reading your favorite banned book, and then tag the library (@thebookplace; #thebookplace). We will draw one winner from all the photo entries for a banned book of your choice.
And, finally, we are having a Banned Book Talk for Teens at the Catlettsburg Branch on Thursday, Sept. 26, at 6 p.m. Branch Manager Barb Biggs will take a look at some of the most challenged books in high school libraries, and the group will discuss the dangers of censorship.
Are you unsure about what constitutes a banned, or challenged book? A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful, and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection. We’re very glad about that.
Books are usually challenged with good intentions – to protect others, frequently children, from difficult ideas and information. But censorship is harmful. Here is a comment on the subject from British philosopher John Stuart Mill, from his 1859 essay, On Liberty: “If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”
Each year, the American Library Association receives reports of hundreds of challenges. Over the past decade, more than 5,000 challenges were reported to the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. In 2012, that number was 464.
At Boyd County Public Library, challenges to books are pretty rare. Director Debbie Cosper said there have only been a handful of complaints during her ten years at BCPL.
Here is the list of the Top Ten Challenged Books in the U.S. in 2012:
- 1. Captain Underpants (series) by Dav Pilkey
- 2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
- 3. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
- 4. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
- 5. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
- 6. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
- 7. Looking for Alaska by John Green
- 8. Scary Stories (series) by Alvin Schwartz
- 9. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
- 10. Beloved by Toni Morrison
How many have you read? If you want to read any or all on that list, you can borrow them from BCPL. Just ask at any branch, or reserve one in our catalog on this website.
We’re happy to help!