Putnam County Libraries Showcase Book Bans During Banned Books Week – Shaw Local

“This is something we have been grappling with in libraries for years. People are always challenging this or that and saying something should be banned. Libraries throughout history have said we allow free speech for everyone.”

Jay Kaplan, Executive Director of Putnam County Libraries

Visitors to the Putnam County Library this week were given warning tape and warned that some of the works on display could offend those who choose to read them.

The Putnam County Library’s holdings drew attention to National Banned Books Week during the week of September 18-24, as censorship intensified in the United States.

“We’ve been very impressed with the recent social media response,” said Putnam County Library Clerk Matt Miller. “There were also people who came in and talked about it.”

Banned Books Week is a national event organized through the American Library Association, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the Writers Guild, and PEN America to draw attention and provide patrons the opportunity to view banned and questioned books. considered controversial.

“Our position on this issue is a bit confusing, but we’re just here to promote these books to get people’s attention,” Miller said. “It’s First Amendment support.”

According to the American Library Association, the number of banned or questioned books has continued to grow in recent years, and by 2022 is already close to last year’s total, the highest level in decades.

During the first eight months of the year, the ALA recorded 681 challenges to books, including 1,651 titles. In 2021, ALA has collected 729 challenges across 1,579 entries.

According to the association, the ALA relies on reports from media accounts and libraries, which means the actual number is likely to be much higher.

Works that appear as banned books include books from all periods, from classic stories including Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” and George Orwell’s “1984” to modern bestsellers Susan Collins’ “The Hunger Games” and JK Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series.

While this year isn’t the first time the Putnam County Library has participated in a national event, library officials are encouraged by the response they’ve seen this time around.

“It hasn’t been as hot a topic in the last few years as it has been in recent years,” said executive director Jay Kaplan. “In my opinion, the response has been positive.”

While the topic of controversial and banned books has gained traction in recent years and months, officials believe they have a responsibility to educate people about the topic and allow individuals to have their say, the library said.

“That’s something we’ve been working on for years at the library,” Kaplan said. “People are always challenging this or that and saying something should be banned. Libraries throughout history have always said we allow free speech for everyone.”

The Putnam County Library chose to participate in the week-long celebration, not on the side of banned books, but on doing what it could to allow freedom of speech under the First Amendment and give the community a chance to form its own opinion, library staff Say.


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