Sometimes there are good reasons for a book to be removed from the library. It may contain information that’s out-of-date. Maybe the pages are falling out. Perhaps an excited child added embellishments in crayon. Working with kids, I’ve seen that more than once!
Other times, individuals or groups ask libraries to remove a book because they don’t want people to read it. For example, they may think it’s too violent, or they might disagree with the author’s ideas. When the goal is to prevent anyone from being able to read a book, whether by removing it or not making it available in the first place, that’s censorship.
Can you guess which books on the following list have been subjected to attempted censorship? The answers are at the end of this post.
- “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas
- “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini
- “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison
- “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky
- “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Banned Books Week is a time to celebrate our freedom to read. At the Library, we believe that your reading should not be censored. It’s not up to us, or anyone else, to decide what you can and can’t read. That’s something I love about libraries!
You may be wondering how we decide which books to put on our shelves. After all, we don’t have space to hold every book in existence. The short answer is that there are a number of criteria we use, some of which are purely practical, like how many copies are available for us to purchase. And overall, we work to offer a diverse collection with something in it for everyone.
For the long answer, check out our Collection Development and Management Policy and some of the other documents that guide us, like the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights and Equity of Access statements.
Imagine for a moment that ice cream cones have become a controversial topic. The debate over sugar cones versus waffle cones is heated. We need to get some new ice cream cone books, but there are over 100 titles to choose from.
How do we narrow down our selections without censoring? We can’t purchase all of the books, but we can make sure we have some presenting each side of the issue. So, we’ll consult reviews to choose the best two sugar cone books and the best two waffle cone books.
Now imagine that a sugar cone supporter hands staff a copy of Waffle Cones Forever and says it doesn’t belong in the library. They want us to get rid of it, or restrict who can borrow it. That’s what we will not do, because everyone is free to read the book if they want. If it turns out to have some out-of-date information, we might replace it with another title, but we will make sure we have books about both sugar cones and waffle cones.
That’s freedom to read. It’s one thing that makes libraries awesome.
Let’s check how you did on the quiz. Which of those titles have people tried to censor at some point? If you said “all of them,” you’re correct. Thankfully, libraries are here to make sure you can read them, and many other “banned books,” if you choose to.
You can sign up for a free library card here. If you are new to our eResources, check out these tutorial videos on how to get started. If you have any additional questions, you can contact a librarian through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. You can also call us at 412-622-3114 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.