Library celebrates Freedom to Read week showcasing banned literature

To celebrate Freedom to Read week in late February, the Strathmore Municipal Library established a display featuring literature which had been banned from certain establishments.

Though Freedom to Read week has passed, the display persists at the library, which Children’s Programmer Brandi Hayman encourages people to check out while it is up.

“We want to bring people’s awareness to the fact that books do sometimes get banned. The purpose of Freedom to Read week is to encourage us to think about and embrace our intellectual freedom,” she said. “We are just providing some of those books that have been banned and showing that we have not banned them and they are available for people to read.”

Hayman added books may be banned and prohibited from certain locations and establishments depending on the policies in place at a facility.

These restrictions may be due to a book containing content considered inappropriate for younger audiences or due to content which certain religious or social groups find offensive.

Showcasing banned books as part of Freedom to Read week is something the Strathmore Municipal Library attempts to do every year if possible.

“We have most things available. The Strathmore policy is basically we do not ban books very often because we leave it up to the patron’s discretion on whether they want to read something or not, and we do not feel that it is our place to remove it from people’s access,” said Hayman. “Some of the books we have on display caused people to be surprised; they didn’t realize that those certain books would be banned or they couldn’t see why they would be banned. It was interesting to raise awareness in that way.”

Some of the banned books included Brown Bear Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr – which was originally banned due to the author sharing a name with another man who wrote Marxist supportive materials, the Harry Potter series, and several Dr. Seuss books.

While the display is up, Hayman personally recommended a title called The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats, which was challenged at the time of its publication for portraying a black protagonist during a time when main characters in literature were almost exclusively white.

The banned books display can be found in the lobby at the front of the library.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times