Celebrating the Freedom to Read

Matthew Gromala, Reporter

Students explored topics and themes that cause many books to be tossed from library shelves – if they ever make it there at all – during  the annual Banned Books Week.

According to the American Library Association the event is designed to celebrate the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. The event brings together all readers –  librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, students –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those that some people believe are unpopular.
“It’s important, ” said Library Club President Kateri Kopicki, who ran the event and intended to increase awareness of the club. “We’re open to student’s ideas on how to make the library more user-friendly.
Participants read from works by authors including J.K. Rowling, H.G. Wells, Hemingway,  Nabokov, Salmon Rushdie and Shakespeare.
Those and other books are continually banned for political reasons –  as in the case of H.G. Wells’ “New Worlds from Old,” which examines Socialism in a sympathetic light – and for religious reasons. Salmon Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses” was banned for its depiction of Islam. Similarly, the  Harry Potter series was banned for depictions of witchcraft and Nabokov’s Lolita was nixed for sexual content.
A California school district came under fire for its decision to ban John Green’s “The Fault in our Stars” due to sexual content and crude language, and this served to bring online attention to Banned Books Week
“We’re drawing attention to the fact that it still happens quite frequently. It happens all the time,” said Hilary Westgate,  Information Literacy Librarian, who read from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.”
The example of the California school district illustrates that books continue to be banned, and not only in the United States.
Electronics Reserve Specialist Jacob Garner, who read from “American Psycho,”  said, “I don’t like censorship. It’s not other people’s responsibility what you are or aren’t allowed to read.”
The Library Club plans to continue holding this reading  each year to ensure the issue is remembered.
Members also plan to hold  events  including “Reading with the Kids,” which will take members to a local daycare center to read with the children.
For more information on Banned Books Week and the American Library Association, visit www.ala.org/bbooks/bannedbooksweek andwww.bannedbooksweek.org
For more information on the Library Club, email [email protected]