Thursday, October 1, 2015

Dare to Enter the “Readstricted” Zone:  Banned Books Week 2015


Banned Books Week (celebrated this year from September 27 – October 3) is an important week not only for libraries, but for all citizens and book lovers.  Sponsored by the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the American Library Association, the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the National Association of College Stores, Banned Books Week is celebrated each fall by all types of libraries. The goals are to create an awareness that banning and challenging books do occur in our society and that the freedom to read is not something that should ever be taken for granted.  There is an exhibit in the library of frequently banned and challenged books, along with information on why those books have been challenged.
The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom receives many reports of books and other materials that were challenged during the preceding year and publish an annual report of the most frequently challenged.  Over the past decade, 5,099 challenges were reported to the OIF.  However, it is estimated that only 15% of challenge or ban attempts are reported.  In 2014, there were 311 reported challenges. 
Titles challenged include classics such as Of Mice and Men, Great Gatsby, and the Catcher in the Rye, as well as popular titles such as Forever, Brave New World, the Harry Potter and Hunger Games series, and Captain Underpants.  The most common reasons for challenging or banning books are sexually explicit content, violence, offensive language, and material which is deemed inappropriate for a certain age group.
To see a list of the most frequently challenged books of the 21st Century by decade, click on  To see a list of banned and challenged classics or a list of the most frequently banned or challenged books from 2000 to 2009, go to or

The theme for this year’s Banned Books is Readstricted: Banning Books Restricts Our Freedom to Read.  The library has celebrated by having a “Readstricted” photo booth where students, faculty, and staff can have their pictures made with their favorite banned or challenged book.  Or, we will also have Ninja warrior masks so that you can pose with your favorite book/s picture while being a Ninja Banned Book Warrior. We have created a Banned Book Warriors wall with all of the photos (see below).   We are also having a contest.  If you tell us how many of the books you have read from the following list (Banned and Challenged Classics), your name will be entered to win one of several prizes.  Banned & Challenged Classics:

NWCC Library Banned Book Warriors

            For me, one of the best parts of being a librarian is seeing the joy in a patron’s eyes when they come in raving about just having finished “the best book ever” or when they ask, “Do you have any others like this?” (Why, yes I do and I’ll be glad to show them to you!).  I’ve seen people’s light up when we get a new book by their favorite author.  Connecting the right book to the right reader is truly a highlight of my job.  This is the reason I celebrate Banned Books Week each year.  I love promoting our right to read what we want when we want.  Many outside the library and book vendor professions are not aware of the challenges to our freedom to read.  It is important to create this awareness so that we can continue to enjoy reading our favorite authors.  I had two students tell me yesterday that they were so mad that Dr. Seuss’s Hop on Pop has been challenged.  My response was, “You should be mad.  Don’t ever let anyone take away your right to read what you want.”  If people are angry about books being challenged and/or banned, we’ve done our jobs as librarians!

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