Some Comments on Banned Books and Intellectual Freedom


decorative image of banned books
Some banned book covers

Did you know this past week was Banned Books Week? Wait, what? Books can be banned?

Yes… and no. Let’s dive into this. 

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.  A banning is the removal of those materials.  Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. [Definition courtesy of the American Library Association]

So, for example, a person goes to their library and says they would like Harry Potter removed from the shelves.  The library reports this to the American Library Association (ALA), and that book is then listed as “challenged”.  The ALA keeps track of all challenges that are reported, and will also note if a book was removed from a particular library (that book is then considered a “banned” book).

Curious what books have been challenged? Here is the list of the Top Ten Challenged Books of 2017. Have you read any of them? We’ve got some of them for you to check out if you are curious. Check out our display, entitled Freedom to Read in the Snoqualmie library building (SNO)!

Troubled by censorship? So are we! But luckily, as part of our professional Code of Ethics, librarians are actually charged with upholding “the principles of intellectual freedom and resist[ing] all efforts to censor library resources”.  

In other words, we want you to have access to the information you need. We believe that this is a democratic right, and we work hard to ensure that you have that access, because we believe this is an issue of equity, freedom, and yes — democracy.

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