Banned Books Week September 23-29

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:

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Originally published in 2007, this New York Times bestseller has resurfaced as a controversial book after Netflix aired a TV series by the same name. This YA novel was challenged and banned in multiple school districts because it discusses suicide. Continue reading “Banned Books Week September 23-29”

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.

Continue reading “Know Your Rights: Intellectual Freedom & Libraries”

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.

Continue reading “Ethnic Studies: Banned”

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”