Every year, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of all the books that have been challenged and banned during the previous year. In 2017, there were 416 reports of challenges or outright bans in libraries and schools. Here are the Top Ten Most Challenged Books from the previous year, including the reasons for the challenges or bans provided by ALA:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Geography 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”