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Decker Library Exhibitions

Banned Books: From Classics to Children's

In Celebration of Banned Books Week

September 28 to October 4, 2015
Curated by Sarah Greenlaw

There are a number of notorious banned books that most people have read and heard of, classics that were questioned in their time and gained fame through contention. In past centuries, federally banned books were forbidden to all readers in the United States for their language, sexual content, or questioning of moral values.

While book banning used to aim to protect the greater public from exposing themselves to sinful material, in the modern United States book banning had shifted focus to protecting children. Now, contested books are most often Young Adult fiction and even children's books - and in the case of children's books, it is often the illustrations as much as the subject matter that comes under fire. Rather than being forbidden from entering the country outright, contested books are barred from classrooms or public libraries.

While book banning may seem like an archaic concept, parents and students lobby schools and libraries to remove materials to this day. Sometimes, the reasons that books are banned make sense, and sometimes they are completely incomprehensible. What this exhibit aims to do is explore the entire range of banned books, from literary classics with "offensive language" to children's books with "a lack of moral tone," to comics that may be unsuited for a younger age set, but are probably not "obscene" to the point of being irredeemable.

The questions that arise are: Who is asking to ban these books? Who is the intended audience? And what would make a book so terrible that no one should read it?

Additional materials can be found in the New Materials Area on the upper level. Please ask staff at the Circulation Desk for assistance.

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. For books on display from the Special Collections (Cage), please see a reference librarian.

Image Information

Created by Sarah Greenlaw