A Student’s Perspective on Banned Books Week

Library student assistant Karolina
Library student assistant Karolina

Today’s post was written by library student assistant Karolina Garcia. Karolina is a junior screenwriting major from Los Angeles. She enjoys watching horror movies and surfing. 

“The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack.” American Library Association, “Freedom to Read Statement

Libraries exist to provide for “the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.” (Library Bill of Rights). The Banned Books exhibition currently on level 1 of the library displays a variety of books that have either been challenged or banned. First, a few definitions:

Banning: the removal of library materials.

Challenging: an attempt to remove or restrict access to materials based upon the objections of a person or a group.

The myriad reasons behind banning or challenging a book include the depiction of harsh reality, violence, religion, explicit sexual content, racism, and more generally it not being “suitable” for college students or children. Many books familiar to our readers have been banned at one time or another in the United States. The Catcher and the Rye, for example, was regularly banned in schools between 1966 and 1975. It was suggested that the book had “obscene language” and “outrageous actions,” and thus was inappropriate for adolescents. Challenges towards the novel didn’t stop in the 1970s. They carried on well into the 1990s and 2000s. For example, in 1992 Jamaica High School in Sidell, IL challenged Salinger’s work for its use of profanity, depiction of premarital sex, alcohol abuse, and prostitution. In 2001, it was actually removed by a Dorchester, SC school board member in Summerville because they considered it “a filthy, filthy book.”

From my point of view, I believe any author should have the ability to publish a book, even if the topic is provocative. By reading books that push us out of our comfort zone and stories that make us feel uneasy, we learn more that way. Free communication is vital for the preservation of a free society. Books are our greatest sort of instruments and we can learn from them everyday. In the view of the American Library Association, the freedom to read is guaranteed by the Constitution. Personally, I will never stop reading any genre of book. Whether it’s a thriller, historical fiction, poetry… I will always read with an open mind.

Thank you, Karolina, for sharing your perspective with us. If you liked this post, let Karolina know!