An international event, Banned Book Week– — taking place from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4 — features libraries around the country that display books which have sparked controversy.
And it’s no different in Fort Collins.
“It’s a way for the district to raise awareness about the freedom to read whatever we want and to choose what we read,” said Jean Gullikson, the children’s programming librarian at Fort Collin’s Main Library.
A display was set up in the Main and Harmony libraries as well as the CSU Bookstore, showing which books have been questioned or banned and explaining the reasons why.
“Many people are surprised by the reasoning behind the challenges,” said Paula Watson-Lakamp, communications manager for the Fort Collins Regional Library District. “Many of the books are their favorite childhood stories.”
The display at the Main Library has folded papers on top of the shelves showing the book cover and a quote on the front stating the reason the book is questioned. The banned books are available through the libraries while the display at the CSU Bookstore has the books available for sale.
“It makes me want to read the ones I haven’t already,” said circulation/shelving Main Library employee Lindsey Geissler. “I looked at which ones were challenged and realized I’ve read a lot. It’s interesting to see which ones were labeled because none of them offended me. But I guess I’ve come from a different background. But really . ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is ‘filthy and trashy’?”
Many of the books on display are on high school required reading lists including “Catcher in the Rye,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Where the Sidewalk Ends.”
“It’s hard to think that anyone can be so narrow-minded as to think these books are banned books,” Main library volunteer Kathy Hingtgen said. “They need to reexamine their view on life, on society, and look beyond a word that they may find offensive. Find another meaning for it; authors should be able to make up their own lines.”
As part of the event at the Main and Harmony libraries, a raffle for a book bag was created “as an incentive for people to come in and look at the display” Watson-Lakamp said.
The book bag has 40 titles of banned or challenged books displayed on it with the heading “I read banned books.”
“We’ve found that many of the challenged books are our most popular,” Watson-Lekamp said. “The week’s a good way to make people look at why the books are challenged, and to make people remember that we all have different points of view.”
Staff writer Kelly Bleck can be reached at email@example.com.