Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Banned Books Week!

Banned Books Week - 2014!

To commemorate Banned Books Week, the library is having a Virtual Read Out and Banned Book Mugshot event - Thursday, September 25th from noon to 3:00pm.

It just takes a few minutes for you to get your mugshot with your favorite banned book and then read a few lines. We'll take the images and readings and make a compilation video to commemorate BBW 2014!! Everyone who participates will get a sweet pin and be entered to win a library swag prize!

About Banned Books Week

Many people think that banning books is something that happens only in the past or in extremist dictatorships in far-off countries, but it is, unfortunately, alive and well in the United States. Starting in 1982, Banned Books Week is an effort by librarians to highlight the importance of not censoring books and limiting the public's knowledge on topics that others may find "objectionable".  As John Stewart Mill wrote in "On Liberty":
But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.

The titles challenged are sometimes shocking, such as To Kill A Mockingbird, The Giver, The Catcher in the Rye, and ironically, Farenheit 451. Take a moment to look at what texts people find so offensive that they fight to have it removed from libraries:

One thing these lists have in common is that you are guaranteed to find at least one title which changed your life (The Sun Also Rises, Sophie's Choice, Looking for Alaska, Hunger Games, Harry Potter, The Hobbit, Brave New World, Perks of Being a Wallflower...)

Here are recent local challenges. All have happened within a one-hour drive from Ripon:

Oshkosh, WI

(2007) Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass was removed from the St. John Neumann Middle and Lourdes High School in Oshkosh, WI because of concerns about what critics call its “anti-Christian message.”

Fond du Lac, WI

(2010) Julie Halpern's "Get Well Soon" was challenged at the Theisen Middle School in Fond du Lac, Wis. by a parent who believes that the book contains inappropriate subject matter for children.

(2010) Ann Brashares' "Forever in Blue, the Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood" was challenged at Theisen Middle School in Fond du Lac, WI by a parent who believes that the book has inappropriate subject matter for children. "Some (of the characters in the book) are sexually active, and alcohol is part of their recreation."

(2010) WritersCorps "Paint Me Like I Am: Teen Poems" was retained in the combined middle and high school library in North Fond du Lac, WI School District provided it has a label designating it as appropriate for high school students. Younger students could also access the book with prior parental permission. A parent asked the school district to reconsider the book due to mature language.

(2010) Sonya Sones' "One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies" was challenged but retained at the Theisen Middle School despite a parent's belief that the book's "sexual content was too mature for eleven-to fourteen-year-olds." The book has won several awards, including being named a 2005 Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association. The same parent plans to request removal of six other books from the library, including the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, another set of books by Sones, and Get Well Soon, by Julie Halpern.

Menasha, WI

(2008) Louise Rennison's "Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson" was retained with limited access at the Maplewood Middle School in Menasha after objections from a parent who found the book offensive. The book was retained, but board members voted unanimously to adopt procedures intended to secure parental consent before limited access books could be released to students.

Appleton, WI

Carol Plum-Ucci's the "The Body of Christopher Creed" was challenged, but retained in the Appleton, Wis. Area School District (2012), despite the book’s references to suicide and sex. Other titles also considered inappropriate by the local parent group, Valley School Watch, include The Catcher in the Rye and The House on Mango Street. The reading list for the group’s ideal alternate class would contain books with no profanity, obscenity, or sexual material.

West Bend, WI

(2009) Stephen Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower", Brent Hartinger's "Geography Club", and Francesca Lia Block's "Baby Be-Bop" were just a few of numerous books challenged in West Bend because of content seen by some community members as obscene or harmful to minors. Many of the books challenged had LGBTQ themes. On May 18, 2009, the West Bend Common Council voted not to reappoint four members of the Library Board because of their views and adherence to library policy. NCAC, ABFFE, the Association of American Publishers, and PEN American Center joined to urge the council to reconsider their decision and retain the books. The ALA issued a separate letter and statement on the issue. Additionally, the Christian Civil Liberties Union filed a legal claim arguing that its plaintiffs suffered mental and emotional damage from the presence of the books in the library's young adult section. On June 2, the West Bend Library Board voted unanimously to retain the books in its YA Zone, without removing, relocating, labeling, or otherwise restricting access. Though no subsequent challenges were submitted, the library has faced ongoing pressure to remove or restrict access to online content and library materials for young people.

--all taken from

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