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Banned Book Week

By Josie Hanna
On October 13, 2017

Concord University celebrated Banned Books Week September 24-30, 2017.

    Douglas Moore, Information Systems Specialist at the Marsh Library, said “This is at least the fifth year that we have celebrated this event.” The American Library Association outlines that “Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read” and that this event “highlights the value of free and open access to information.”

    The goal of the Marsh Library staff in celebrating Banned Books Week is to expose students to different ideas and to remind students and staff to pay attention to the things happening around them, because the more knowledge that one has, the better.

    This year’s activities included informational posters in the library, a display with books that have been banned or challenged at the front of the library, an email blast to all students at Concord, and coloring pages available in the library. Moore stated that Banned Books Week serves to raise awareness of the practice of banning books because the less we pay attention, “the easier it is for someone to take those things away from us.”

    According to Moore, books are a “product of their time,” so what may be offensive now was not at the time that it was written, or vice versa. Moore stated that he “completely disagrees” with the practice of book banning. “You don’t get to dictate other people. Who am I to tell you what you can and cannot enjoy.” He said that banning books is a means of control. This is part of what makes literature unique. It expands one’s freedom of speech, expression, and ideas. He also reminds students that “You have a right to read!”

    The ALA statistics for 2016 show that, of the organizations that frequently ban books, 30 percent are school libraries, 49 percent are public libraries, 30 percent are schools, and one percent were special libraries. Those organizations that have challenged books in the past have included the following: 42 percent parents, 31percent patrons, 10 percent board or administration, eight percent librarians, two percent government, two percent religious or political groups, and five percent other organizations. In total for 2016, there were 323 challenges reported to the American Library Association.

    Books can be challenged or banned at any location, by any individual, at any time. Frequent reasons that books are challenged or banned as reported by the ALA include the following: offensive language, nudity, LGBT, political viewpoints, inaccuracy, racism, defiance of authority, supernatural ideas, and even the author just to name a few.

    In 2016, the top 10 challenged books list included “This One Summer” written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki; “Drama” written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier; “George” written by Alex Gino; “I Am Jazz” written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas; “Two Boys Kissing” written by David Levithan; “Looking for Alaska” written by John Green; “Big Hard Sex Criminals” written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky; “Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread” written by Chuck

    Palahniuk; the “Little Bill” series written by Bill Cosby and illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood; and finally “Eleanor & Park” written by Rainbow Rowell.

    When asked if there has ever been a book that was challenged or banned at Concord, Moore states, “Not to my knowledge.” A few years ago, there was an instance in which a book on hacking was questioned, but it was never actually removed from the Marsh Library.

    For more information about Banned Books Week, you can contact Douglas Moore at, call 304-384-5372.

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