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April 18, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

Local libraries celebrate freedom of speech and banned books week

Local libraries are encouraging students to break out their favorite banned book in honor of Banned Books Week, which began Monday.

Banned Books Week is an annual nationwide celebration put on by the American Library Association. According to the ALA’s Web site, the event is meant to show the importance of the First Amendment and the freedom to read.

The ALA defines a challenge as an attempt to have a book removed or restricted from a library or curriculum. A book is banned when a challenge against it is successful.

According to the Web site, there were 3736 challenged books from 2001-2008. Of those, only 75 were from college classes and 36 were from academic libraries.

Sara Bushong, the interim dean of University Libraries, said college campuses do not see many challenges for a reason.

‘We are the least likely to be challenged because of the promotion of free speech on campus,’ Bushong said.

Bushong said she did not think any books had been banned during her time at the library. She said books considered offensive, especially children’s books, would often just vanish.

‘A lot of times if somebody has a problem with materials that are in a library, especially a public library, they will remove the book and check it out, and then never return it,’ she said.

Maria Simon, head of youth services for the Wood County District Public Library, said the library has a display every year that contains a list of books that have been challenged or banned in the United States at some point. The display is visible in the children’s area.

‘It is really just celebrating the freedom to read,’ she said. ‘We want to bring attention to the fact that closing books shuts out ideas.’

Simon said Banned Books Week is meant to encourage people to not take their democratic rights for granted.

Sophomore Elisabeth Berry said she has never heard of Banned Books Week, but thinks it is important to have the freedom to read what you want.

‘I think its kind of silly to ban books in general,’ she said. ‘They are the author’s creative expression. Every book can teach you a lesson in some way.’

Bushong said Jerome Library usually celebrates Banned Books Week, but it will not this year.

‘Usually our curriculum research center does a display, or sometimes we do a main library display, but since its so close to homecoming, we’ve been focusing on homecoming this year,’ she said. ‘So we don’t have any big plans this year for Banned Books Week, but we will next fall during the centennial.’

Bushong said next year the Jerome Library would like to have community readings that could be posted on YouTube.

‘We thought we could involve the campus in potentially having some readings of particular books that have been challenged in the past and then doing some postings on YouTube,’ she said. ‘We just didn’t have a chance to pull it together because we are focusing on homecoming right now.’

She added that the idea had not been formalized yet and is currently just in discussion.


Below is a list of some books that have been banned or challenged in the past. Some, such as ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘The Bridge to Terabithia,’ were challenged for references to Occultism or Satanism. ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ was once challenged for being ‘anti-white and obscene.’ Other books were challenged for simple reasons such as too much profanity or sexual references.

– ‘The Great Gatsby,’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald

– ‘The Catcher in the Rye,’ by J.D. Salinger

– ‘Of Mice and Men,’ by John Steinbeck

– ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ by Harper Lee

– ‘The Call of the Wild,’ by Jack London

– ‘Gone with the Wind,’ by Margaret Mitchell

– ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls,’ by Ernest Hemingway – ‘1984,’ by George Orwell

– ‘Harry Potter,’ (the entire series) by J.K. Rowling

– ‘Bridge to Terabithia,’ by Katherine Paterson

Source: American Library Association Web site’

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