Published September 15, 2022
The UB Libraries will hold a series of free book talks and film presentations from Sept. 19-24 as part of Banned Books Week, the American Library Association’s annual campaign celebrating open access to information and the freedom to read.
Since 1982, Banned Books Week has called national attention to the dangers of censorship. This year’s theme is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.”
“Libraries are essential advocates for intellectual freedom. By providing access to materials that represent diverse points of view, libraries encourage imagination, foster creativity and build a sense of community,” says Kathleen Quinlivan, communications officer for the University Libraries.
Book banning is as old as publishing. Titles ranging from “New English Canaan,” Thomas Morton’s 1637 critique of Puritan values, to Dav Pilkey’s children’s book “Captain Underpants” have landed on banned book lists.
But book banning is not exclusively a matter of history. It’s a growing contemporary problem, and the issues and concerns of suppressing access, limiting free expression and stifling possible conversations that arise when individuals or other organizations attempt to or successfully remove books from stacks, stores or schools are directly confronted by the efforts inspired by Banned Books Week.
Libraries, schools and universities last year reported more than 700 calls to ban or remove books from their curriculums and stacks, according to the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom. That figure represents more titles than in 2020.
“I’m sure there are a variety of factors that can be attributed to that increase, but the numbers are clearly saying that this form of censorship is an ongoing problem,” says Quinlivan. “Raising awareness to these challenges is a critical first step so that people know what’s happening.”
All of the University Libraries events during Banned Books Week are free and open to the public: