The last full week of fall every year, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers and libraries, including Pierce’s, participate in Banned Book Week.
Banned Book Week, an event put on by the American Library Association, aims to end censorship of information, even if it may be controversial. The event is also meant to raise awareness of book banning across the U.S.
For Pierce students, this is a chance to become aware of the censorship of information around them.
“At its core, I would say ‘Banned Books’ is celebrating our freedom to read,” said Dean of Library and Learning Resources, Christie Flynn, “celebrating the fact that not one person, not one business, not one company, one institution, nobody censors our information and keeps information out of our hands.”
According to the ALA website, many popular classics such as Of Mice and Men, Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Giver are often challenged. From 2000-2009, all of these books ranked towards the beginning of the top 100 books challenged or banned.
Books are challenged for various reasons, ranging from witchcraft, to racial issues, to profanity to sexual content. In 2013, the top four books to be banned or challenged were, among other reasons, all challenged for having “offensive language.”
While books can sometimes be offensive or controversial, Pierce librarians don’t believe this is a reason to ban them.
“Libraries, historically and traditionally, are places where everyone can come and get access to any and all information for free,” said reference and instruction librarian Kathy Stewart.
Flynn, who has been with Pierce for 16 years, says that Pierce has been involved with Banned Book Week for the last 15 years.
She says Pierce originally became involved because of their strong association with the ALA. While other organizations such as the Freedom to Read Foundation and Coalition Against Censorship join in, the ALA seems to lead the charge.
While it is uncommon for books to be formally challenged at Pierce College, Flynn says when she worked at a public library, it was far from unheard of.
Flynn and Swart both agree it isn’t the libraries place to censor any information from either side of any argument.
“Usually when a book is challenged, our response is not to remove that book from the collection,” Flynn said. “We would probably add something that was in favor of or positive of the other side.”
Because it happens during the first week of fall quarter, Pierce librarians have difficulty planning events around Banned Book Week. Still, the Puyallup Pierce library has put up a display of books that have been challenged or banned at other libraries. The books on the display are welcome and encouraged for students to check out and read.
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