NorthEast-Millerton library celebrates Banned Book Week
MILLERTON — The NorthEast-Millerton Library is celebrating Banned Book Week; it began Saturday, Sept. 24, and will run until Saturday, Oct. 1.Banned Book Week is an event celebrated by libraries and schools across the nation. According to the official website, the event “draw[s] attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books” and is a “celebration of the freedom to read.”“It’s a fun library holiday that people outside of the library aren’t always aware of,” said NorthEast-Millerton Library Director Rhiannon Leo. “It makes you appreciate what we’re allowed to look at. We’re lucky to have this freedom.”The week-long annual event was started in 1982 as a response to a sudden drastic increase in the number of challenges to books in schools, libraries and bookstores.Books are challenged for a number of reasons, including references to religion, sexuality, violence, political viewpoints and explicit content. Sometimes books are challenged for minor reasons, such as objectionable cover art.Not all books that are challenged are banned.According to the Banned Book Week website, more than 11,000 books have been challenged since 1982.There is no all-encompassing list of banned books because bans vary from country to country, city to city, and even library to library.The NorthEast-Millerton Library made displays of challenged and banned books based on the list from the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, which compiles reports of challenges made to schools, libraries and other institutions.The list includes classroom classics (“Lord of the Flies,” “Of Mice and Men,” “The Giver”), literary bigwigs (Judy Blume, Mark Twain, George Orwell, F. Scott Fitzgerald), mainstream series (“Harry Potter,” “Twilight,” “Lord of the Rings”) and movie adaptation inspirations (“The Kite Runner,” “Bridge to Terabithia”).“I’m always surprised by ‘Harry Potter,’” said Leo. “And Judy Blume. There’s something about her that makes people mad.”Noting some of the more surprising reasons, Leo said, “It really makes you start thinking.”She acknowledged that some of the challenges came from good intentions and were often meant to protect children, but “you can’t make those sweeping decisions for everyone,” she said.Leo said the reaction from her patrons was overwhelmingly positive, especially from local educators, and the event has provided a safe, nonconfrontational venue for dialogue about differing beliefs and censorship.“I hope people get an appreciation of freedoms that are sometimes taken advantage of,” she said.While supplies last, patrons who take out a banned book during Banned Book Week will receive an “I read banned books” pin.The NorthEast-Millerton Library is located at 75 Main St. in Millerton.For more information about the week-long event, call 518-789-3340.