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Banned Books Week (Month) 2019!

The week of September 22 to September 28 is Banned Books Week 2019. This annual celebration, which “highlights the value of free and open access to information,” has taken place since 1982, when an increase in challenged books led to its organization. To celebrate, the adult non-fiction display for September is dedicated to Banned Books Week.

Photograph of Haverhill Public Library Banned Books display for September 2019. Includes several infographics and other smaller graphics relating to challenged books, paper flames, book pages with text covered using marker to look like redacted text, and caution tape. The books are propped on wooden blocks. Fiction books are wrapped in caution tape and have slips attached explaining reasons for challenges. Nonfiction books are not wrapped.

The display includes materials from the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom that provide more details about contemporary challenges to books and reflect this year’s theme, “Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark.” According to ALA, the majority of challenges to books come from patrons and parents, and public libraries are the most common sites of challenges. One infographic in the display includes a word cloud of reasons: “political viewpoint,” “LGBTQIA+,” “gender non conformity,” and “sexually explicit” are the largest terms in the cloud. Another infographic lists the Top 11 Challenged Books of 2018. Alex Gino’s George, a children’s novel about a transgender girl’s efforts to play Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web at school, was the most challenged book in 2018.

For books, the display includes selections of well-known challenged fiction books, some classic and others contemporary. Each of these is wrapped in caution tape and has a slip of paper attached explaining reasons for challenges. Additionally, as this is generally the non-fiction display, there are non-fiction books that relate to banned books, censorship, and controversial literature.

While Banned Books Week doesn’t officially begin until later in the month, the display will be up through the end of September, so there’s a full month to celebrate. Check out a challenged book or learn something about censorship today!

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