Banned Book Week focuses on freedom to select books

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Banned Book Week focuses on freedom to select books

September 29, 2017 - 10:52
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  Words of caution for Flossmoor Library
  patrons on banned books. The display is
  marking the national Banned Books Week
  sponsored by the American Library Association.

  (Photos by Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)
 
Did you know the Bible is the book most often requested for removal from libraries?
 
The American Library Association (ALA) keeps track of how many books are challenged and banned from library shelves and celebrates Banned Book Week to remind people they have the freedom to read.
 
Homewood and Flossmoor libraries are celebrating Banned Book Week through Saturday with displays, videos and a contest.
 
  A display of books from
  the juvenile department
  with "banned" stickers on
  them is part of the
  Homewood Public
  Library's Banned Book
  Week celebration.

 
Displays at both libraries spotlight Dr. Seuss books, “Harry Potter” and adult books, such as “The Kite Runner,” that are being challenged or banned.
 
“Our readers are choosing to read them, or not complain to other people. People may be deciding they’re objectionable, but they’re choosing not to say.  The goal (of Banned Book Week) is you don’t have to read them, but just don’t tell other people they can’t read them,” said Stephanie Serkula, a librarian in the teen section at Homewood Public Library.
 
Angela Messaglia, Homewood’s juvenile division librarian, said patrons looking over a display are puzzled by books with “banned” stickers on them.
 
“They ask ‘Why are you banning books here?’  We’re not banning, we’re celebrating books. They don’t even realize these books are being challenged. They’re just reading them because they want to read,” she said.
 
Anna Pauls, youth services manager at Flossmoor Public Library, said she appreciates parents’ concerns about what their child reads, “but I don't believe they should decide what others shouldn’t read. A book that may be inappropriate for their family could be very helpful to others given their life situation.”
 
Books can be challenged for a number of reasons — from encouraging smoking to controversial issues such as sexually explicit language or a political viewpoint. A challenge results in a review from library administrators who then determine if the book will be banned. Neither library has reported a challenge in recent years.
 
Pauls has recommended John Green’s “Looking for Alaska” to teens. She said it was published in 2006 “and it’s 10 years later and it’s still on the challenged list” for offensive language and being sexually explicit, according to the ALA.
 
“Books have been banned way back into antiquity. It’s not a new thing for people to want to control what other people read.  That’s a very ancient art of controlling which is the antithesis of what libraries are all about,” said Kelly Campos, a youth services staffer in Homewood.
 
“We don’t want to control knowledge. We want to spread knowledge.”
 
Publishers now are offering books that look at real life, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) issues, war, political stances and equality, Serkula said.
 
“A lot of realistic fiction is coming out and is very popular,” Messaglia said.
 
Homewood’s library has three informational videos, created by Campos, Messaglia, Serkula and events coordinator Ashley Sander, on its website.
 
Homewood’s staff is also conducting a contest giving patrons the chance to identify three books banned for promoting the hacker culture, obscene language and cannibalism. The person able to identify the book will win the book.
 
Homewood Public Library's Banned Books Week videos: