“To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Great Gatsby,” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” are all highly respected American works of literature. And they’re all banned by the American Library Association (ALA).
Last week the Consortium Library commemorated Banned Books Week by having 26 students, faculty and staff from UAA and APU read five-minute passages from a banned or challenged book of their choice.
According to a library announcement, the goal of the event was to celebrate the freedom to read and highlight the importance of the first amendment.
Emcee for the event, business librarian Trina Carter said the event is celebrated nationwide. The Consortium Library displays the list of banned and challenged titles from their collection, and has been doing so for several years.
“As a librarian, I am professionally and ethically opposed to censorship of reading materials from libraries,” says Carter. “Parents or guardians are the individuals who should make decisions about reading material appropriate for their kids.”
According to the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, books are most often challenged because they contain sexually explicit material, offensive language, and/or material unsuited to any age group.
Carter feels books are also challenged due to differing religious viewpoints and political ideology.
“I am against the idea of banning books because at no point should one group’s morality become the decisive factor of whether another group could do something,” UAA student Taran Haynes explained.
Others have a slightly different take on what should be banned.
“Fictional books should never be banned, but manuals like The Anarchist Cookbook should be restricted,” said UAA student Jacob Paiz.
For the majority of those who read passages at the event, the motive came from a childhood fondness of their chosen title. Ellen Davis, a member of the library staff, read an excerpt from “The Lord of the Rings,” a book that sparked in her imagination and adventure.
Banned Books Week is a yearly event that has been held the last weekend in September since 1982. The American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association, and the PEN Writing Center, among other organizations, sponsor it.