Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Beware the Book

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association
September 25 to October 1 is Banned Books Week – seven days of celebrating our right to read books that have been challenged for reasons ranging from sex and offensive language (too many books to name) to the promotion of cannibalism (Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein).

Despite the popularity and longevity of cautionary tales like Fahrenheit 451, book banning is still a reality, both nationwide and close to home: only earlier this month, the superintendent of Chesterfield County schools in Virginia reinstated three books that had been pulled from summer reading lists for sexually explicit language and violence. Deciding who can read what is an individual decision – according to Access to Library Resources and Services for Minors, an interpretation of the ALA's Library Bill of Rights, “Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents – and only parents – have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children – and only their children – to library resources.” Reading as a personal choice is an idea that applies to everyone, and Banned Books Week honors the work of countless teachers, librarians, and readers of all stripes who stand up for the freedom to read.

So come join the library in exercising your First Amendment right to read without restriction!

Interested in reading a banned book? Check out our Banned Books display near the library classroom, which features old favorites like Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and Beloved by Toni Morrison, and some surprising recent additions like The Hunger Games by Susan Collins and Looking for Alaska by John Green. Also, don’t forget to check out our Banned Box up at the circulation desk to discover the fascinating stories behind tons of challenged books.

Finally, mark your calendars for this Thursday, September 29 at 12:00 PM, when Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, Executive Director of ACLU of Virginia, will be speaking in room M229 about banned books through the perspective of past court cases and the effect of censorship on education. Please come and welcome Ms. Gastañaga to PVCC!

So celebrate your right to read with a banned book – if you dare.