Know Your Rights: Intellectual Freedom & Libraries

The public library as an institution is charged with providing access to information, regardless of content. In doing so, the library stands firm in upholding the First Amendment and the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights. This is why, as Jo Godwin famously stated, “A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.”

The Seattle Public Library strives to meet the widest range of information needs through the careful and intentional selection of physical and digital items by librarians, by borrowing resources from a network of library systems throughout the country, and with purchase requests from you, our library patrons. If there is some piece of information that we don’t have, library staff will try to find it with you.

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Ethnic Studies: Banned

This past August, a federal judge lifted a ban on a Mexican-American ethnic studies program at the Tucson Unified School District. The decision came after a group of students sued, arguing the ban was overly broad, discriminatory, and violated their free speech. Although the ban and ruling that followed only affected Arizona, the case had implications for students throughout the country.

Would other school administrators and state legislatures be able to ban books that “advocate[d] ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals?” This was a prominent point of contention, despite conclusive evidence showing the educational benefits of such courses that draw on the lived experiences of students.

Banned Books Week is happening now, Sept. 24-30 2017, so we’d like to take this opportunity to highlight 10 books that were temporarily banned under this ruling, and that speak to the experiences and complex history of Latinx in the US. For young students, the most powerful narratives can be those that allow them to closely relate to the characters and their struggles. Characters and narratives can stimulate and facilitate learning by offering a vocabulary to  contextualize concepts that will serve students in class and in life, like critical thinking. Accessible narratives also offer Latinx and other historically underrepresented youth a place to find solidarity during a period of development that can be tough for even the omnipresent youth.

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Join us for the 4th Annual Banned! Books in Drag

In September, libraries put up their Banned Books Week displays that highlight the freedom to read, because every year books are challenged and banned due to their content. Books that explore themes of race, sexuality and gender are often the most challenged books in libraries across the country. So, it makes perfect sense to celebrate the freedom to read and the tenets of intellectual freedom with a free drag show, our fourth annual Banned! Books in Drag.

This year’s drag show will once again feature books that are challenged and banned with performances inspired by titles such as Alan Ginsburg’s Howl, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God and J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. At Neighbours night club on Saturday, September 23rd, doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the performances will start at 7:30 p.m. This event is 21+, so bring your I.D. and get there early as the lines can be ghastly long! Continue reading “Join us for the 4th Annual Banned! Books in Drag”

LGBTQ: Banned & Challenged Books

During Banned Books Week, we highlight the importance of the Freedom to Read. But what does that mean, exactly? While we welcome patron comments about materials in our collection, upholding intellectual freedom means we believe our collection should have something to please and offend everyone. That means a well-rounded collection should include materials that someone will find objectionable.

This year, the library’s Banned! Books in Drag program hosted by David Schmader at Neighbours Nightclub on Saturday, 9/27 from 6:30-9:00 p.m. is aimed at highlighting just how many books are challenged nation-wide every year because they contain LGBTQ content.

Here is a selection of titles that were challenged in libraries for their LGBTQ themes:

Click here to view Geography Club in the SPL catalogGeography Club by Brent Hartinger
Originally published in 2003, challenged in 2005 and 2009. Challenged in 2005 in Washington State: Withdrawn from the Curtis Junior High and Curtis Senior High school libraries after a University Place couple with children in both schools filed a written complaint. They wrote that the book could result in a “casual and loose approach to sex,” encourage use of Internet porn, and the physical meeting of people through chat rooms. Continue reading “LGBTQ: Banned & Challenged Books”

Banned! Books in Drag

The Seattle Public Library is very excited for our upcoming event “Banned! Books in Drag” that will be taking place on September 27, 2014 at Neighbours Nightclub on Capitol Hill. This free event will be hosted by The Stranger’s associate editor David Schmader and will feature some of Seattle’s favorite drag performers and comics giving performances inspired by their favorite works of literature.

AleksaWe recently caught up with one of the performers, Aleksa Manila, and asked her about her early literary experiences, her favorite books, and why she’s excited to take part in this awesome Library event.

Here’s what she had to say!

Seattle Public Library: Aleksa, what was your first LGBTQ book? Continue reading “Banned! Books in Drag”