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Caution: Banned books on display at library

Caution: Banned books on display at library
By Trent Carruthers, tcarruthers@recordcourier.com
September 21, 2005

What do the best-selling books "The Bible," "American Dictionary," "Harry Potter" and "Where's Waldo" all have in common?

These popular books are part of a banned books exhibit currently on display in the lobby showcase at the Douglas County Public Library in Minden.

An eye-catching strip of yellow tape, which repeated in bold black letters the word "Caution," is taped to the front glass, alerting people to the 25 objectionable books in the display.

Next week is national "Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read."

The display is filled with books that are either currently banned or previously banned by school districts and libraries throughout the country.

In front of each book are the apparent reasons why the books were placed in the display.

"The Bible"is in the exhibit because it apparently contains obscenities and pornography. "Harry Potter's" subject matter is witchcraft. "American Dictionary includes obscenities and "Where's Waldo" has a pornographic drawing.

"This exhibit is a way to educate people who might not be aware of what gets banned in other parts of the country," said Luise Davis, support services manager at the library. "I often hear people who look at the exhibit say 'I didn't know that book was banned, and what does banned mean?'"

Davis added, "people and groups challenge books for any reason Ð pictures, profanity and violence."

The exhibit also gives other examples why books make it onto a banned list, including use of racial slurs, homosexuality, offensive language, drugs and alcohol use, destructive or disrespectful behavior, religious propaganda, Satanism and witchcraft, inaccurate political viewpoint, and adult theme.

On posters behind the books are quotes from well-known authors and former presidents supporting the freedom to read. In the center of the exhibit is a list of "The 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books" from 1990 to 2000. Another list contains the "most challenged" books since 2004.

The display and its many popular and controversial books, which includes Alice Walker's "The Color Purple" and Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," will be displayed through the remainder of the month.

Davis said the Minden library has had "very few instances of people challenging books" available during her seven years of service. She said the library district has a "formal policy" toward dealing with materials that some members of the community might find objectionable.

"We won't just pull a book off the shelf because someone has a problem with it," she said.

A "request for reconsideration form" is available at the front desk for any individual or group choosing to challenge the availability of a book in the library.

"Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read" has been observed during the last week of September at libraries around the country since 1982.

A list of banned books is available at Web site www.ala.org/bbooks.


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