Censorship is still present today, but public libraries are trying to combat this problem. In conjunction with the American Library Association, public libraries have developed Banned Book Week: “an annual event celebrating the freedom to read… Banned Book Week brings together, the entire book community- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types- in the shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.”(31)
Banned Book Week started back in 1982 and continues today. Some books that were previously censored, still receive strong reactions to them. These items are no longer banned or censored at the public libraries, but these books are a part of banned book week, celebrating the power of reading. The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, is one of these books, it was included in Banned Book Week. There were objections to its content, some deemed it racist. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, is a part of Banned Book Week also. This book contains ‘“racial slurs, profanity, violence, and does not represent traditional values,”’ that is why some people find it objectable. Both of these books were included in Banned Book Week several different years.(32)
Banned Book Week also includes children’s picture books in their celebration as well. If I Ran the Zoo by Theodor Seuss Geisel, was one of these picture books. Some objected to the illustrations, because the eyes of some of the characters were slanted, which some considered to be offensive to the Asian community. Another book by Dr. Seuss: Hop on Pop: The Simplest Seuss for Youngest Use, was another banned picture book. Some consider this book unsuitable for children, it ‘“encourages children to use violence against their fathers.”’(33)
Many public libraries participate in Banned Book Week, and the Manchester City Library is one of these libraries. Some patrons have concerns over the materials that the library selects, believing their tax dollars are supporting something they do not approve of. Manchester City Library’s policy on censorship is as follows:
“The Board of Trustees of the Manchester City Library believes that censorship is a purely individual matter and declares that while anyone is free to reject material of which one does not approve, one cannot exercise this right of censorship to restrict the freedom of others. No library material shall be removed from the Library except under a formal reconsideration of such materials by the reconsideration committee. This committee will consist of the library director, the administer of the particular division in which the material is held and the selector for that particular genre. Any member of the community may request the reconsideration of any library materials made available at the Library.(34)
Public libraries continue to change, by adding community support through a variety of programs. Click here to find out more.