Smith Public Library is joining libraries, bookstores and universities across the country for a weeklong literary celebration.
Banned Books Week will last from Sept. 23-29. It was launched in 1982 to bring awareness to the number of books that are challenged each year. The theme for 2018 is “Banning Books Silences Stories.”
“A lot of the time books are viewed as controversial because from an individual’s point of view, the book contains ‘questionable’ content or the book challenges a particular set of beliefs,” said Library Director Rachel Orozco. “Since ‘questionable’ is open to interpretation, pretty much any book can be viewed as controversial. Our library exists to provide access to information on all subjects and points of view to all people who live in our geographic area that we serve. I am committed to the idea that knowledge and access to information empowers the individual and enables them to succeed in life.”
This year’s display focuses on the banned books that Smith Public Library owns. Librarians hope that seeing the amount of popular books that are challenged will increase awareness.
“Reading books with challenging material helps you grow as a human,” said Ofilia Barrera, youth services supervisor. “It allows you to approach a topic you may be uncomfortable with in a safe way and perhaps you will end up seeing it in a new light.”
Banned Books Week’s website states that “intellectual freedom is at the heart of the event.” Organizers believe that people should have the right to choose what they will read.
The American Library Association reported that over 400 books were challenged or banned in 2017.
“I would say pay attention especially at a local level to school board meetings, volunteer to be on the library board and encourage other citizens to be open minded and to support reading and libraries,” Orozco said. “Most importantly though, read those challenging books and encourage others to do so too. Conversing with someone face to face about challenging materials is the best way to persuade them of their value.”
By Morgan Howard • [email protected]