Banned Books Week
September 16 - October 10, 2014
Curated by Aaron Blickenstaff
"The dirtiest book of all is the expurgated book."
- Walt Whitman
Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. The first Banned Books Week was held in 1982, over 30 years ago. Despite the longstanding history of the event and ongoing efforts to combat censorship, the issues of intellectual freedom and suppression of ideas that spurned its creation continue.
Bans, challenges, and the outright removal of books from classrooms as well as public and academic libraries are commonplace to this day. To highlight the relevance and enduring importance of Banned Book Week, the books selected for this exhibit were limited to those that have been challenged within the last 30 years. Many of these titles, like Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America and The House on Mango Street, have seen challenges within the last year. Others, like Neonomicon, challenged in 2012, are kept off the shelves despite review boards condoning their content.
In school settings, books like The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and The Bluest Eye have been the subject of protest when assigned to students. In 2013 alone The Perks of Being a Wallflower was outright removed from one 8th grade classroom and struck from another high school reading list due to community concerns. These are just a few examples of how censorship, even if well-intentioned, continues to silence the voices of myriad authors and prevent readers from opening their minds to new and different ideas.
We hope you will join us in celebrating the freedom to read! Please consider checking out some of the materials exhibited here. If you have a question about any of the items or see something missing from our collection that you would like to recommend, please don’t hesitate to speak with library staff.
Banned Books Week for 2014 runs from September 21 - 27.
Circulation policy for books on exhibit:
Circulating books on display in the museum cases are available for check out at any time. Please see a staff member at the circulation desk to request a book from the cases. Titles, when available, may be checked out at any time from the MRC. For books on display from the Special Collections (Cage), please see a reference librarian.
Image information: And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell, illustrations by Henry Cole (PZ 10.3 .R414 T36 2005 Quarto)