BY GRACE MANDATO – CONTRIBUTING WRITER
The staff at the Blough-Weis Library invites students to get involved with Banned Books Week, which will begin on Sept. 27 and run until Oct. 3. It is the annual celebration of the freedom to read without censorship and was founded in 1982 by the American Library Association.
Banned Books Week brings attention to the issue that books have been, and continue to be, taken out of
libraries, bookstores and schools. Books are challenged for numerous reasons, from their offensive language or mentions of drug, alcohol and smoking abuse to messages with homosexuality or sexually explicit content. Some challenged books actually end up banned. According to the ALA website, despite the fact that several titles have been taken out of libraries, bookstores and schools, “in a majority of cases, the books have remained available.” Banned Books Week is a way to commemorate those books.
The Blough-Weis Library will be hosting events in honor of Banned Books Week. There will be a banned books read-out on Sept. 30 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Students are encouraged to read excerpts from their favorite banned books and talk about them. Librarian of Outreach and Collection Development Ryan Ake said, “We think it’ll be a great opportunity to showcase the direct impact these books have had on students’ lives.”
Students can also get involved in a banned books bookmark scavenger hunt during the week. There will be bookmarks placed inside banned and challenged books and then hidden on the second floor of the library. Each day hints will be given out to help students find the books. Prizes will be awarded to the students that find the bookmarks.
A book display will be located in the front of the library to showcase an assortment of different books that have been challenged or banned. In the past for Banned Books Week, the Blough-Weis Library only put up book displays, which Cindy Whitmoyer, librarian of public services, and the student managers handled. When asked about her involvement with Banned Books Week in previous years, Whitmoyer said it was to “educate the university and community about banned books and censorship with displays of books that have been banned or challenged.” Last year, the Blough-Weis Library could not organize a display due to the renovation. This is the first year an event and activity will accompany a book display.
The focus of the display will be popular and classic books in the library collection. Ake said, “Sometimes people don’t realize some of their favorite books have been challenged by schools, government, organization, etc.” Students can become aware of which of their favorite books have been challenged and banned. Ake added, “A lot of folks don’t realize how many books have been challenged throughout the years… it’s pretty remarkable to see what people can be afraid of.”