Another year, another Banned Books Week to celebrate. No, not like that! We’re not celebrating the banning of books, or banning them ourselves – we’re celebrating how banned or challenged books are still available in our collection, and the power that the written word can have on society. And yes, of course books are still being banned. In schools, churches, and even libraries (gasp!), books are being removed from shelves for a variety of reasons.
According to the American Library Association, over 400 books across the nation were reported as challenged or banned in 2017, ranging from classics like ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ to the YA favorite ‘Thirteen Reasons Why.’ While those two books are dramatically different, they still discuss controversial subject matter that resonates today.
One of the more frequently cited reasons for challenging books last year was due to sex, and not always because of its explicit nature, but because books featured same sex relationships and/or gender identity issues. Books, just like any other medium, are reflections of our society. It’s unsurprising that the hot button issues are reflected in our stories or that their subject matter is questioned. If we are going to move forward together, we cannot hide from the material that challenges us but face them head-on. Debating difficult topics is more productive than pretending the material doesn’t exist, and that’s what Banned Books Week is all about.
We try to develop a collection that reflects the village during this time in our history. That will come with it viewpoints that some find offensive to their own view, but since society can never seem to agree on anything, neither will the subject matter in our books. All we can do is make the material available to everyone and hope that the discussion surrounding those issues will be productive, so check out a banned book today!