Monday, May 20, 2013
Libraries Feature America’s Controversial Literary Canon During Banned Books Week
The weeklong observance began in 1982 as a way to spotlight books that at one time -- or many times -- were banned or at least challenged.
It's banned books week in America, an observance begun by the American Library Association in 1982 after there were challenges to several books on the shelves in schools and public libraries.
"The purpose of the public libraries is to present different points of view,” said Karen Keller of the Z.J. Loussac Public Library in Anchorage.
Both the Loussac Library and the UAA/APU Consortium Library are displaying books this week that at one time – or many times – were banned or at least challenged, both in the United States and internationally.
"A lot of times, some of the books that are listed here, for example, are books that contained content or language or subject matter that at the time may have been controversial, and we look at them now and we think that's quite mild,” said Keller.
UAA held an inaugural reading of previously banned literature, including “The House of the Spirits” by Isabel Allende, which was read both in English and its original Spanish.
Many of these books were banned decades ago and are now readily available. But still, librarians say that the threat of censorship is not just a thing of the past.
"People will always continue to find something to object to in a book, whether it's its language, its religious stance, sexual content, ideology—there's lots of reasons for people to object to a book and they don't want others to read that book. But, our constitution protects us in this country from having those materials removed, most of the time," said Trina Carter of the UAA/APU Consortium Library.
And many of the controversies seem to be never-ending for books like “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “The Catcher in the Rye,” which are regularly challenged due to language.
But some people strongly disagree, and so the librarians say they'll stay vigilant for the next challenge.
Other readings of once-banned material will be at Title Wave Books on Wednesday and the Loussac Library on Sunday.