Readers of all ages, races and nationalities came together to celebrate free speech during the 30th annual Banned Books Weeks (BBW), which was from held Sept. 24 to Oct. 1. BBW highlighted the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.
“When you read the list of books that have been challenged throughout the years, you’ll notice that it’s mostly school libraries and public libraries that have to deal with this, and it kind of makes sense because the usual issues are sexual content or violence or things that are perhaps inappropriate for some age groups,” Dean of the Jane Bancroft Cook Library Brian Doherty said. “But from time to time there’s political content or religious content that has been challenged … from our perspective, if you disagree with those things it’s important to have access to them, to understand them better and to be able to better challenge them if indeed you disagree with them.
“Oftentimes they’re not necessarily banned – the challenge for them is where they should appropriately be placed,” Doherty continued. “Ultimately the event is really about intellectual freedom and our freedom to access information and not to be restricted in any way to access that information, and essentially that is what libraries are all about.”
“You know what’s really interesting – censors never go after books unless kids already like them,” young adult fiction writer Judy Blume said in a video statement on the American Library Association’s (ALA) website. Blume, along with authors such as J.K Rowling and F. Scott Fitzgerald, are some of the most frequently challenged authors.