Tag Archives: banned book week

Liberty and libraries: Observing Banned Books Week

The American Library Association has tracked challenges to more than 11,300 books in the 30 years since Banned Books Week was launched to respond to a surge in efforts to remove materials from libraries, classrooms and even bookstores.

In most cases, the challenge to a book comes from a parent.

And the No. 1 reason cited for a challenge? “Sexually explicit” material. “Offensive language,” “unsuited to an age group,” “violence” and “homosexuality” also prompt challenges, according to the ALA. In 2012, challengers took aim at a range of books, including “And Tango Makes Three,” a children’s book about two male penguins Roy and Silo raising a baby chick in New York’s Central Park Zoo.

On Sept. 22, the UW-Milwaukee School of Information Studies and the UW-M Center for Immigration Policy Research partners with the Milwaukee Public Library to kick off Banned Books Week by hosting Barbara Jones of the American Library Association. Jones, the director of the group’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, will participate in “Canaries in the Coal Mine: How Libraries Fight for Fee Speech, Freedom from Surveillance and Democratic Values,” at 6 p.m. at the MPL, 733 N. Eighth St.

The ACLU of Wisconsin observes Banned Books Week with a meet-and-greet and First Amendment forum at Woodland Pattern Book Center, 720 E. Locust St., Milwaukee, at 6 p.m. on Sept. 25. An after-party takes place at Riverwest Public House, 815 E. Locust St., Milwaukee. Stop by with a paperback copy of “Howl” in the hip pocket.

Report: 32 Missouri school districts considered book bans

Recent efforts to restrict Missouri students’ classroom or library access to certain books have met with mixed results, new research by the University of Missouri School of Journalism shows.

Bans or restrictions have been considered on more than 50 books in 32 Missouri school districts since 2008. Graduate journalism students relied on more than 560 public records requests to compile the data.

The banned books include Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” in Republic, though the district later reversed its decision.

In another case, a parent in the Jackson school district unsuccessfully sought a ban on “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins.

And in Camdenton, Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner” was removed as required reading in an honors English class but remained on the school’s library shelves.

Twelve of the 53 documented challenges resulted in a book’s removal, with another 11 challenges resulting in restrictions.

Twenty-nine challenges were unsuccessful. The result of one challenge wasn’t reported.

The North Kansas City school district reported seven challenges, the highest number among districts to respond. Seventy-one of the students’ 566 Sunshine Law requests to each of the state’s local school districts went unanswered.

The reasons for book challenges include concern over sexual themes and language, violent content, racial slurs and religious references. Other taboo topics involved self-injury, drugs and alcohol.

Nationwide, the American Library Association lists 1,647 book challenges from 2008 through 2011 and more than 6,300 over the past two decades. Most involved K-12 schools, but others involved books in prisons, theaters, museums and university libraries.

Banned Book Week, organized by the ALA against such censorship efforts, takes place Sept. 30-Oct. 6.