BY AUSTIN RUFF
Forsyth Library hosted a “Banned Books Buttons” event outside the Memorial Union last Tuesday. The library provided information about previously banned books such as Harry Potter, Captain Underpants, Huckleberry Finn, and Twilight.
The display also included trivia questions that quizzed students on various books that had been banned across the country. Students made buttons with designs advocating against book banning and for the freedom to read.
This event comes just ahead of Banned Books Week, celebrated today through Saturday, an annual campaign by the American Library Association and Amnesty International that advocates against banning books. Banned Books Week was founded in 1982 by prominent American librarian Judith Krug in an effort to bring attention to a number of book bans that had taken place that year.
“The freedom to read is one of our basic human rights,” Online Learning Librarian at Forsyth Library Heather Vandyne said, “it’s a necessity.”
Banning books has long been a topic of debate in states and school districts across the country. From books like The Great Gatsby, which was banned due to explicit language and sexual references, to Moby Dick, for “conflicting with community values” book bans are indiscriminate and often lead to organized and collective push-back.
Vandyne pointed to the Central York School District of Pennsylvania as an example of how book bans are still a problem today. Last October, the school placed a ban on books addressing race, which included books about the Civil Rights Era, as well as prominent figures like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.
“I think a lot of banned books are banned because they deal with extremely sensitive topics,” ex-librarian and FHSU senior Sidney Sullivan said, “and I think these topics become more taboo the less we talk about them.”
After a major outcry from students in the Central York District, the ban was reversed on Monday following a unanimous vote by the school board to end the ban.
“Banning books goes against everything libraries are about,” Vandyne said, “we’re here to provide information. Unconditionally.”
Some 273 books were either challenged or banned in 2020 alone. For students, book bans affect the very material they are allowed to consume.
“Knowledge is power.” Vandyne concluded, “Banning books achieves nothing.”