Read a Banned Book Lately?

Banned Book Week 2016 is THIS WEEK, September 25-October 1, so hurry in if you are a purist and want to read your banned book(s) during the official commemoration. If you are less orthodox in your observance, feel free to come by the library any time and we will help you find something racy, salacious, and/or thought-provoking to explore.

Currently we have a display of some of the books in the Dewey 000-339 range that have been banned or challenged to help you select your next read. Lucky for us the books ABOUT banned books are also in our room at Dewey 025.213 & .218 (remember to check the reference shelves too!), facilitating our search for good nonfiction titles. We pulled a couple of those for the display and you can check them out (either literally with your library card, or just flip through one of them for further recommendations). And if fiction is more your style, visit our friends in Center for the Reader on the 1st floor of Central and take a look at their display.

One of the books on display is Studs Terkel's 1974 book Working: People Talk About What They Do all Day and How They Feel About What They Do, which was challenged and removed from school curricula and reading lists in the 1970s and 80s due to obscene/profane language (Robert P. Doyle, Banned Books - Challenging Our Freedom to Read, Aspen Printing Co., 2014).

Working consists of over 100 interviews with people from all walks of life and in a nice coincidence NPR, in conjunction with Radio Diaries and Project &, is running a series, "'working' then and now," which includes excerpts from the interviews. This morning they played part of the interview with a woman they called Barbara Herrick (per the radio story, a pseudonym) - you can find her story about working as a female executive at a large ad agency in the 1970s at page 66 of the book on our display.

Twitter shared one more example of contemporary book banning with this Slate story about the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's practice of denying prisoners access to certain books (from their list of almost 15,000) for one of six reasons, including "a prohibition against books determined to have been written 'solely for the purpose' of achieving the breakdown of prisons through strikes, riots, or gang activity - [which] permits the prison to ban pretty much any book about civil rights that uses the [n-word]." [yes, the irony of editing out an offensive word in a blog post about banned books is not lost on me...]

We invite you to visit a library near you and pick up a book that meets one or more of the criteria in the word cloud below, and stand up for YOUR right to read!

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