Skyline College Library recently marked the American Library Association’s (ALA) Banned Books Week 2023, from October 1 to October 7, 2023. Banned Books Week commemorates the freedom to read, freedom of expression, and intellectual curiosity across the globe, achieved by delving into books that have been banned or contested due to the ideas they contain.

In the United States, the most frequently challenged books often revolve around issues of race, gender identity, and sexual orientation. However, books face challenges, prohibitions, and bans worldwide for many reasons. These books are crucial in introducing readers to fresh perspectives, sharing untold or unheard stories, imparting historical knowledge, fostering empathy, and shedding light on our collective human experience.

Our Library curated informative displays in honor of Banned Books Week and intended to enlighten our students about books that have faced bans in the United States and internationally. The exhibition featured a diverse selection of books, including the

In honor of Banned Books Week and with the aim of enlightening our students about books that have faced bans both in the United States and internationally, our Library curated informative displays. The exhibition featured a diverse selection of books, including the top ten most challenged books in the U.S., as well as internationally banned works like Lolita, Ulysses, 1984, and Animal Farm. Additionally, we showcased books that are presently challenged and forbidden in various countries, such as The Bible and The Satanic Verses. To engage patrons, the books were covered in carefully ripped brown paper, inviting them to tear them away to uncover the books inside. Each book was accompanied by a bookmark detailing the reasons for the challenges, bans, or prohibitions associated with it.

The exhibit also incorporated a “Forbidden Books Around the World” map and offered global statistics on book banning. Students were encouraged to engage with this exhibit, sharing their insights on why the American Library Association compiles and releases data on banned books, discussing whether this practice helps counter censorship, and exploring which aspects of global and historical book ban information piqued their interest for further study. Additionally, they were prompted to express their views on book bans and whether they advocate for restricting access to certain books in libraries and schools. Several instructors actively promoted their students’ involvement with the exhibit, including Middle College English Instructor Michael Stultz, who brought his 11th-grade students to the Library for a visit.

We thank our library student assistants, Harry and Veronica, and our dedicated library outreach team (Saul Milan, Jessica Silver-Sharp, Sherri Wyatt, and Pia Walawalkar) for their collective efforts in curating this exhibit. Special thanks also go to faculty instructor Monique Ubungen for bringing her class to the Library during Banned Books Week and to librarian Jason De Castro for engaging with her class on the perils of book banning for our democracy.

Skyline Library remains committed to your freedom to read and intellectual curiosity by providing the books and information that students want and need in their Library! Did you miss Banned Books Week? All of the information is available here.

Article by Jason De Castro and Pia Walawalkar

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