It’s Banned Books Week, so to find out more about our current state of affairs and what the event hopes to achieve, I reached out to my favorite kind of expert: A librarian.
“Banned Books Week is a celebration that libraries do every year. It’s really a celebration of our right to read whatever we want. It’s sponsored by the American Library Association, so lots of libraries across the country celebrate that week every year,” says Kelly Tyler, Principal Librarian Youth Services for the Los Angeles Public Library.
While she was aware of only one recent local challenge against a title, Tyler says the current trend shows that challenges to books are on the rise, not the decline — something documented in a newly-released PEN America report about school book bans.
“The American Library Association does track this across the country, and it has been trending upwards. We anticipate that 2022 will outpace 2021 in terms of the number of challenges, or bans, that we’re going to see this year,” Tyler says.
Tyler, who co-edited a 2014 book called “Intellectual Freedom for Teens: A Practical Guide for Young Adult & School Librarians,” says that instead of a lone patron coming in with a complaint about a book, some places people are coming in with lists of books they object to.
“You go and look at the list and it’s concerning to see how many are written by authors of color, BIPOC authors, or authors who are writing about, you know, they’re somewhere on the LGBTQIA spectrum,” says Tyler about the Top 10 list of banned books.
(Courtesy of Banned Books Week / American Library Association)
What exactly constitutes a challenge? “In the case of, say, public libraries, someone might come in, and they want to see the item moved, they want to see it removed from the collection altogether, or they want us to restrict access. So that would be considered a challenge. But banning the book would actually mean that then that library, or in some cases, the school, would actually ban or remove that book, from a curriculum, from a library, or from a collection.”
While a book may survive a challenge, I asked Tyler if complaints can have a chilling effect of their own.
“Librarians are always talking about and trying to be very aware about what we would call self-censorship, right? We don’t want to not bring something into our library branch or our collections, because we’re worried about, you know, potential outcry based on cover art or what’s inside a book. Because of course, what we want is for everybody to have the ability to choose for themselves and for their own families,” she says. “I mean, the wonderful thing about L.A. is it’s so diverse, right? Everybody has different tastes and different opinions about what they want to read. So we want to make sure we’re making something available for everybody.”
What’s abundantly clear, however, is that these challenges are largely targeted at specific groups: the LGBGT+ community and …read more
Source:: Los Angeles Daily News
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