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Durango Public Library celebrates Banned Books Week

‘We always talk about celebrating the freedom to read,’ says interim director
Durango Public Library is celebrating the 39th annual Banned Books Week with American Library Association. (Durango Herald file)

Durango Public library is joining the American Library Association this week in celebrating Banned Books Week.

“It celebrates everyone’s freedom to read and everyone’s ability to find what they’re looking for on the shelf,” said Durango Public Library interim director Colleen Galvin.

Banned Books Week was launched 39 years ago in response to a surge of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries during the late 1980s.

“Book bans were growing out of people saying things like, ‘This book is offensive to me,’ or what I find even more insidious is people saying certain books aren’t appropriate for children and move them to the adult section,” Galvin said.

Held every year during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information.

“We always talk about celebrating the freedom to read,” Galvin said.

The library has put up a display on its main floor that features the censored books from the ALA’s list, and more. A second teen display that features censored books is also up on the library’s main floor, as Galvin said teen books often experience the most censorship.

Galvin said her favorite book of the ALA’s bunch is currently “The Hate U Give,” by Angie Thomas.

“It is an amazing look at family life in an urban setting, and the challenges that teenagers face based on their ZIP code,” Galvin said.

ALA’s theme for Banned Books Week this year is “Censorship Divides Us, Books Untie Us.”

“We respect your ability to find a book that is right for you, but we don’t respect the ability that you can censor something for somebody else,” Galvin said.

As a librarian, Galvin spoke to the need for access that libraries provide the community.

“We really want you to find what you’re looking for at the public library,” Galvin said. “We don’t act as local parents, we respect your right to find what you’re looking for no matter what your age is.”

Ten books the American Library Association is highlighting this year as experiencing censorship in include:
  • “George” by Alex Gino. Challenged, banned and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint and not reflecting “the values of our community.”
  • “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds. Banned and challenged because of the author’s public statements and because of claims the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people.
  • “All American Boys” by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use and alcoholism and because it was thought to promote antipolice views, contain divisive topics and be “too much of a sensitive matter right now.”
  • “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson. Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint, it was claimed to be biased against male students and it included rape and profanity.
  • “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie. Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references and allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of the author.
  • “Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story about Racial Injustice” by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin. Challenged for “divisive language” and because it was thought to promote antipolice views.
  • “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. Banned and challenged for racial slurs and its negative effect on students, featuring a “white savior” character, and its perception of the Black experience.
  • “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck. Banned and challenged for racial slurs and racist stereotypes and a negative effect on students.
  • “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison. Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse.
  • “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas. Challenged for profanity, and because it was thought to promote an antipolice message.

njohnson@druangoherald.com

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