Banned book week

bannedbookphotoimageAbove are pictures of a display I did at work for Banned Book Week. I found some of the most banned books in the USA, made a book cover for them that described why they were banned, and gave space for people to write whether or not they believed the reasons for banning the book were legitimate. There were also small informational signs about the difference between a challenge and banning, who bans books, and our library's policy.

I was in Collections Development class for my MLIS at the time, and was thinking from a collections management perspective, and about whom I wanted the collection to serve. When I was reviewing many of the banned titles, many of which are classics that have racist or sexist words or pretenses, my understandings of what it meant to be a librarian shifted. We really do have to walk the line between serving our patrons, our libraries, and our ethical duties to our community. It's so important to realize that our work is subjective, while attempting to stay open to the variety of views and ideas of our patrons. I appreciated thinking about whether libraries should filter internet content as well, for similar reasons. I don’t want to have a library that filters, censors, or otherwise commits intellectual “crimes.” However, in learning about the actual skills and processes behind selection, my perspectives have broadened and grown. Does not selecting a book mean that it’s being banned or challenged? Is it a good policy to wait until a patron requests the material that may be on the line of what I personally would want in my library? What are my duties as a politically involved person who is firmly leftist to those who don’t share my political beliefs?

I do think it's important for libraries to celebrate banned book week, as a way to engage with ideas around censorship - both for their patrons and themselves. This is a wonderful project I would like to do for next year!