The DC Public Library System is hosting a week of events to discuss and celebrate books that have been or are currently banned in parts of America as communities and school boards grapple with the issue of censorship.
Banned Books Week is an annual event in which libraries across the country celebrate “freedom to read.” Libraries are marking the occasion September 18-24 this year, and select DC libraries will be hosting events beginning September 19.
Last year, the Spotsylvania County School Board in Virginia voted to ban what they called “sexually explicit books.”
“I have a message from every student sitting in this crowd to these school board members: You failed us. You failed, each and every one of you, and I hope you know it,” one student said. on the school board last year. .
Keller ISD in North Texas was one of many school districts across the United States to pull dozens of books from library shelves. The removed books were disputed last year within the school district and included the Bible, Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye,” and more. NBC News Senior Reporter Mike Hixenbaugh joins LX News to learn more about why these kinds of books are banned.
Spotsylvania School Board President Kirk Twigg, then a board member, went so far as to suggest burning books.
“I’m sure we have hundreds of people who would love to see these books before they burn them,” Twigg said.
The system manager for the DC Public Library said he was shivered when he heard those words from an official.
“I mean, it’s heartbreaking. I’ve been a librarian for 27 years now, and I never dreamed in the 90s or when I was younger that we would be in 2022 and we would have what you just describe: burn books, ban books, thought suppression,” said DC Public Library Director Richard Reyes-Gavilan.
While the book ban was dropped in Spotsylvania County, jurisdictions across the country have banned books in recent years.
The DC Public Library, however, will celebrate books that have been banned in other places.
“It’s very important now with people across the country trying to tell people what they can and can’t read. Libraries are First Amendment institutions. We believe in the freedom to read. We believe in freedom of access to information, and we are on a very slippery slope,” said Reyes-Gavilan.
He said censorship can also make certain groups of people feel even more excluded from society.
“LGBTQ books across the country are banned. ‘Gender Queer’ is number one on most banned book lists, and these titles are really important to people trying to figure out who they are,” Reyes-Gavilan said. .
Go here for a calendar of DC Public Library Banned Books Week events and more information on the top 10 banned books.