Thursday, September 27, 2012

Banned Books Week and the Clarke

by Marian Matyn and the Clarke Staff

Next week, September 30th – October 6th, the American Library Association (ALA), along with several other institutions and organizations, will be celebrating Banned Books Week. The ALA regularly creates lists of the most challenged and banned books across the United States. Thanks to the ALA, every year we have the opportunity to celebrate the books that have been challenged and our freedom to read these books if we choose as well as the freedom of libraries to keep these books in their holdings.

The ALA has put together a website for Banned Books Week that you can access via this link. We are willing to bet that some of your favorites have been a part of a banned books list at one time or another. Use these links to access the list of challenged classics and the list of most challenged books for 2000-09. Check out how often certain books have been banned or challenged as being “acceptable” as well as just when it was in history that they were challenged.

At the Clarke, like at many libraries, we have several works that appear on the ALA list of most challenged and banned books. Some of these challenged and banned titles from the Clarke are special because they are first editions. Some of the first edition banned books we hold may include some of your all-time favorites, such as Flowers for Algernon, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Call of the Wild, and Bridge to Terabithia. The striking thing about our holdings of first edition banned and challenged books is that most of these items are from our children's collection.

We here at the Clarke Historical Library will be more than happy to share these titles with you and help you look into the past, when these books were banned, to better understand the spirit of the times and possibly why some of these books were challenged.

In a community-wide context, the Department of English Language and Literature at Central Michigan University, the Riecker Literary Series, Central Michigan University Libraries, and Veteran’s Memorial Library in Mount Pleasant will host a series of events all week including youth read outs, a panel discussion, and a film about banned books. Lean more about it on Facebook at Get involved in Banned Books Week and help promote reading, not banning more books.