Every fall in the United States, we celebrate Banned Books Week. It’s kind of like the Super Bowl for librarians. For a brief moment, the public is looking at the place libraries hold in our society, and how access to information for all can be stymied by a small minority of censors. Librarians love banned books. Nothing screams “Read me!” like a ban. It’s like being a kid and wanting to do exactly the opposite as your mom tells you, with the added bonus of learning something.
This year, Banned Books Week is getting a bit more attention than usual because of the enormous uptick in the attempt to ban books across the country. According to freedom of speech advocacy group PEN America, there has been a 33% increase in attempted school book bans in the 22-23 school year as compared to last year. Banners have set their sights on public libraries as well. Last year, 16% of book challenges were against public libraries. This year, that number has jumped to 50%. Book banning has become a hot political topic, with Republicans and Democrats fighting it out as to who should control what books stay on the shelves. As we approach election season, the American Library Association believes the vitriol between the two sides will only increase.
As a society, we have agreed to the promise of free expression as enshrined in our Constitution. For expression to truly be free, we must be willing to allow all points of view, even those we disagree with–even those that are plain wrong–to be expressed. If not, who will get to decide what is “proper” or “decent” expression? Would you want to give up your right to free speech just so someone you disagree with is forced to give up theirs?
Here at the Muse Law Library, we celebrate Banned Books Week with our yearly book display. Last week, we asked you to tell us your favorite banned books. Now, check out our Fahrenheit 451-inspired banned books display in the library lobby, featuring quotes from banned books YOU recommended! This year, we have added the bonus of a Banned Books Trivia Quiz, linked here.
If you would like to learn more about Banned Books Week, visit bannedbooksweek.org.