Marcia Anderson

This week is Banned Books week.
Banned Books Week, the annual celebration of the freedom to read, will be held the week of Sept. 24 in 2017. For this year’s celebration, the coalition of organizations that sponsors Banned Books Week will emphasize the importance of the First Amendment, which guarantees our inherent right to read. It highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers — in shared support of the freedom to seek and express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.  

Censorship is happening and it is infringing on the right of readers.

According to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) – which tracks reports of book challenges – there was an alarming 17 percent increase in book censorship complaints in 2016. Since most challenges are not reported, the actual number is probably much higher. Even more disturbing, while only 10 percent of the titles reported to OIF are normally removed from the institutions receiving the challenges, half of the most frequently challenged books were actually banned last year.

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. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice.

The books featured during Banned Books Week and National Library Week have all been targeted with removal or restrictions in libraries and schools. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom calculates the Top Ten by documenting public media articles of challenges, and censorship reports submitted through the office’s reporting form. For an in-depth look at censorship trends, check out the State of America’s Libraries Report.

The list of the 10 most challenged in 2016 were:

“This One Summer,” written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki

“Drama,” written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier

“George,” written by Alex Gino

“I Am Jazz,” written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas

“Two Boys Kissing,” written by David Levithan

“Looking for Alaska,” written by John Green

“Big Hard Sex Criminals,” written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky

“Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread,” written by Chuck Palahniuk

“Little Bill” (series), written by Bill Cosby and illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood

“Eleanor & Park,” written by Rainbow Rowell

Sponsors include: American Booksellers Association; American Library Association; American Society of Journalists and Authors; Association of American Publishers; American Association of University Presses; Authors Guild; Comic Book Legal Defense Fund; Dramatists Legal Defense Fund; Freedom to Read Foundation; Index on Censorship; National Coalition Against Censorship; National Council of Teachers of English; PEN America; People for the American Way Foundation; and Project Censored. It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

Watch for a display in the library of books that have frequently been challenged somewhere in the country. Not all have been removed or restricted. Do you want someone telling you what you can or cannot read?

Don’t forget that you can download ebooks and audiobooks to enjoy on a computer or electronic device. They are included in the library’s online catalog, and can be downloaded directly through the catalog. Books available from EBooks MN are also included in the catalog. You can also use the Libby app on devices to search for and check out ebooks and audiobooks from Overdrive.

Just for teens:
Voting for Teens Top 10 is now open. Stop at the reference desk for more information and a list of the 25 books nominated from around the country and a link to the online voting site. Voting is open through Teen Read Week, Oct. 8-14.

This week at the library:

Thursday, Sept. 28, 6 p.m., Permitting a Mine in Minnesota

Presented by Peter Clevenstine, Assistant Director of the Lands and Minerals Division of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
The DNR has authority to regulate lands subjected to metallic mineral mining operations including environmental review, permitting and inspection and enforcement of mining permits.  Learn about their focus on controlling possible adverse environmental effects of mining; preserving natural resources, encouraging planning of future mine land utilization; promoting development of mining; and encouraging good mining practices.

Mondays at 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
Saturdays at 10:15 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.

Preschoolers and families: Gather in the story circle for rhymes, songs, and stories, then move to the community room for a snack and a craft.


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