On Tuesday, Sept. 20, the staff at Andrew L. Bouwhuis Library hosted a readout that focused on books that have been banned throughout the past few years. This event was a part of The American Library Association’s (ALA) “Banned Book Week” and has been a part of Canisius since 2010. The library staff will also be hosting an event on the freedom to write, which will take place at noon on Friday, Sept. 23.
Banned Book Week was started 40 years ago by the ALA. The Association states that the purpose of Banned Book Week is to warn against the harms of censorship and bring communities of readers together. This year's theme is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.” Amongst the top ten most challenged books of 2021 are “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe and “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas.
“1,600 unique titles have been challenged or banned so far this year in this country,” said Library Director Kristine E. Kasbohm, “I’m guessing anyone who’s a reader is going to find books on those lists that they love.”
The New York Times reports that, just this year alone, 1,651 books have faced scrutiny and potential censorship, compared to last year's number of 1,594. The divide over these books has also led to librarians being threatened with legal cases. The library association reports 27 incidents where libraries have gotten in trouble with local police in their area for the books on their shelves.
“My favorite type of banned book is one that is challenged for malicious reasons, and then becomes more popular than it would’ve otherwise by people pushing back against the attempt,” said Samantha Cochrane, ILL library associate.
The library’s readout featured books such as “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. Attendees shared the reasoning behind why they selected a banned book and then described the stories told in the work. The event served as a way to shed light on the nuances surrounding books that have been deemed as controversial.
Kathleen DeLaney, college archivist and special collections librarian said, “No matter where you go in this world, if you tell someone you are a librarian, that person knows what you do. Maybe not the day-to-day work, but they know what a library can do to change lives.”
Students are invited to attend the event on the freedom to write, which will include professors as panelists in part of a discussion on banned books. The event will be held in the library at noon on Friday, Sept. 23.