Banned Books Week focuses on the importance of knowledge accessibility… not censorship of any kind.
Fayette County Public Library director Becky Kellum says all these books have been challenged at one point or another, even the Diary of Anne Frank and The Color Purple because of the topic or content. There’s also a certain focus right now she calls concerning.
“The LGBTQ aspect of it… more the graphic novels; there are some things that are in there that people aren’t liking and that’s coming out in the schools,” Kellum said.
The value of free and open access to information is the fabric of American culture… the American Library Association says when we ban books, we close readers off to people, places and perspectives. Banned Books Week celebrates and protects our freedom to read.
According to Kellum, growing up she read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but they’re not on the reading list anymore because of what’s considered racism and language people now find offensive.
“It goes back and forth; what they focus on and what they don’t focus on — kind of yearly, ‘what’s it gonna be this time,’ said the library director. “But I really have no say in what the schools are wanting, what parents want their kids to read.”
The library has a form one can fill out if one wants to challenge a book. It’s then passed along to the library board.
“They make the determination whether a book gets pulled off the shelf permanently or not,” Kellum said. “At least not since I’ve been here, we haven’t had anything challenged.”
The library’s for everybody.
“We shouldn’t have somebody coming in here telling me: ‘You shouldn’t have this book on the shelf.’ Somebody may read it and not be offended at all,” said the library director. “That’s when you say, OK — ‘I’m not going to read that book.'”
If a parent has an issue with what their child reads, Kellum says they should take that up at home. Other than that…
“Come in, use the library for what you need it for; don’t try to tell somebody else what they should read,” she said.