Library highlights books once forbidden on its shelvesPublished 9:22am Wednesday, September 23, 2009
By JESSICA SIEFF
Niles Daily Star
BUCHANAN – They are some of the most beloved and influential pieces of literature in history. ‘Huckleberry Finn,’ ‘Charlotte’s Web,’ ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and ‘Of Mice and Men.’
And they all have something in common. At one time or another, these books have been banned. Challenged by those opposed to the content, challenged by schools unwilling to allow students to read their pages.
To mark Banned Books Week, which takes place Sept. 26 through Oct. 3 and to highlight the fact that books continue to be challenged even in this day and age, the Buchanan Public Library has set up displays in various areas of the library for their patrons.
“I think it’s really important for people to realize that books are continually challenged…” said the library’s director Kate Scheid. “And it’s important that all points of view are available…”
There are several reasons for schools, organizations or individuals to challenge books and move to keep them from the shelves.
Betty Francis, media manager for the library in Buchanan said three of the main areas in which books are challenged include sexual content, language and racism.
“For our part, we’re very open to have people make their opinions known,” Scheid said. Patrons are able to fill out a form at the library should they feel a book is something that shouldn’t be on the shelves. Scheid said there is a process to reviewing those complaints and deciding whether or not a book merely needs to be moved to a more appropriate section.
But, Francis added, “it’s important that everyone has the freedom to choose.”
Scheid said so long as the content is accurate and well presented the books likely wouldn’t be banned from a public library. Parents are encouraged however, Scheid said, to come down to the library to see what their children are checking out.
Both she and Francis said that there are times where banning or challenging books can have an opposite affect, generating interest.
That is something that happened when many challenges were made against the popular ‘Harry Potter’ series by J.K. Rowling and Scheid and Francis said they are seeing it again with the very popular ‘Twilight’ series by Stephanie Meyer.
In addition to those books, some have received opposition for political reasons. When it comes to those books written on political themes, Scheid said she tries to “balance them with an opposing point of view.”
It comes down to a freedom to read.
It was John Steinbeck, Scheid said she learned in an article, author of ‘Of Mice and Men’ which has been challenged itself, who locked books in a trunk, telling his children they were not appropriate to be read. Each night, Scheid said, the children would get into the trunk to read what they’d been told they couldn’t. It wasn’t until later they found out their father had told them they couldn’t read the books precisely so they would.
“I guess that’s what’s at work here,” Scheid said.