Marshall Libraries Honor Banned Book Week

Banned Book Week focuses on the dangers of censorship and shows the importance of having the freedom to read. This year the display will be up from Sept. 26-Oct. 2. 

“Everybody can read the same book,” said Ron Titus, associate professor and librarian, “but people will take away from it different things because everybody reads a little bit differently with a different purpose. With censorship, we won’t have a shared experience of reading the same material and being able to talk about it.” 

Marshall libraries have been showing this event in the since the 1990s, according to Titus, who oversees the presentation of the display each year. The display is usually around the last week of September, when the American Library Association presents Banned Book Week. This year’s theme is “Books Unite Us, Censorship Divides us!”  

This year’s most challenged, banned and restricted book is “George” by Alex Gino, for LGBTQIA+ content and challenging religious viewpoints. The book features no violent or “mature” topics. However, it was still challenged by many high schools and libraries in the past few years.  

Titus said books are most often banned from high schools, elementary schools and libraries, but there are cases where books have been challenged through universities. When a school challenges a book, they often put together a group of people to suggest it’s ban, and the board will have the final say.  

“Sometimes superintendents have arbitrarily pulled something, and people have challenged that, and they have had to backtrack,” said Titus.  

Titus said people are often too quick to say a book needs to be banned.  

“One of the things that I always say is that people need to make sure that they read the book before they just say it is a bad book and ban it,” said Titus. 

According to Titus, reading is a shared experience that gives the reader a chance to step into someone else’s shoes and see through a perspective that they have never experienced. It gives people a chance to learn as well as try out a new way of thinking.  

“I have a particular life experience,” said Titus. “I am not able to change that life experience unless I get a viewpoint from somebody else, and other people. By writing about different books, different viewpoints and different experiences I can gain that experience. I see things through different viewpoints.” 

Titus said people are afraid of change, and when they see a book from a perspective they do not like or agree with, parents are quick to say it shouldn’t be available. However, it is often a question of maturity. 

“Everybody has their own level of maturity, what one person can read at the age of ten, another person still can’t handle at the age of twenty,” said Titus 

Marshall libraries will be hosting an online giveaway through their social media in honor of Banned Book Week. Students will have the opportunity to win prizes sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Association of College Stores.