by Public Service Associate Owen
Despite the protections of free speech that are enshrined in our Constitution, there are still those present in our society that wish to impose censorship in the literary world. Books are being challenged for their content and are being banned from schools and libraries at an alarming rate. It is important now, more than ever, to stand up to the growing encroachment of censorship and book banning, as it can be a slippery slope that ultimately leads to a fearful, closed-minded, and mistrustful society. This is why Bexley Public Library is determined to help stand up to censorship, and we invite you to do the same as part of our two-part Standing Up To Censorship program. Parts I and II of this program can be attended both in-person in the BPL Auditorium, as well as online via Zoom.
Part I of the Standing Up To Censorship program involves a discussion with a panel of experts that include Ohio Library Council Executive Director Michelle Francis, Capital Law Scholar Dan Kobil, and Bexley Public Library Director Ben Heckman. This panel will explore the recent rise of book challenges and censorship in schools and libraries and what it means for our community. For some context, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office of Intellectual Freedom reported over 300 book challenges from September-November last year – an average of nearly 38 per week – which nearly reached the 337 challenges from all of 2019. According to the ALA, many of the challenges seek “to remove materials that focus on LGBTQIA+ issues or books by Black authors or that document the Black experience or the experiences of other BIPOC individuals.” If you are at all interested in the rise of book challenges, the sorts of books they are targeting, and how this impacts the local community and beyond, then this event is an excellent opportunity to pick the brains of some experts on the topic. You can attend Part I of this event is on March 29th, 2022 from 7:00-8:00 PM. More information, including registration information, can be found here.
Part II of this program will feature a discussion with award-winning author and Professor of World Literature at Ohio State University Ashley Hope Pérez, whose book Out of Darkness has been targeted by book banning efforts in multiple states as recently as last year. Out of Darkness is “a riveting novel about segregation, love, family, and the forces that destroy people” that is set in 1937 East Texas around the real-life New London School explosion – the deadliest school disaster in American history. Pérez, who has also authored The Knife and the Butterfly and What Can(t) Wait, won the Printz Honor for Literary Excellence in Young Adult Literature, the Tomás Rivera book award, and the Américas book award for Out of Darkness. The discussion will be centered around the rise of censorship in schools and libraries, what it is like having her book banned, and the importance of creating diverse YS literature today. It will be moderated by Library Director Ben Heckman and will be followed by a book signing. Part II of this program will take place on April 10th, 2022 from 3:00-4:00 PM. More information, including registration information, can be found here.
As our society grows more divisive, it is more important than ever to actively discuss the growing threats of censorship and book banning. Our two-part Standing Up To Censorship program is a great way to stay involved in such matters. We invite you to take a stand against censorship with all of us here at BPL.