September 29th, 2004
Sophie Bogdanski (right), Monographs Unit Librarian for the WVU Libraries, explains Banned Books Week to Shelia Shurina, an education junior, at a display in the Downtown Campus Library Alumni Lobby.
Banned Books Week, a national event that runs from Sept. 25-Oct. 2, has two goals. First, the annual observance is a celebration of the freedom to read. It is also a chance to educate people about the library’s responsibility to collect, provide access, and archive materials on all points of view and on any given topic without censorship.
“The library is a bias-free zone,“ Bogdanski said. “This freedom is essential on a university campus where students, faculty, and staff need to research both sides of controversial issues such as cloning.”
In spite of differing opinions about what is written in a book, people still have the right to read it. This right is embedded in the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Since 1990, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom has recorded more than 7,000 book challenges from individuals and groups, including 515 in 2002. A challenge is a formal, written complaint requesting a book be removed from library shelves or school curriculum. About three out of four of all challenges are to material in schools or school libraries, and one in four are to material in public libraries.
Along with the display in the DCL, librarians and staff manned an information booth in the Mountainlair from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. during that week.
--Photo and story by Monte Maxwell, WVU Libraries