Freedom to read ’em

Alex Ramirez, 20, Kinesiology major, poses with his favorite childhood book, “Where the Wild Things Are.” Students are encouraged to photograph themselves in the library at the selfie station with their favorite banned book. (Winter Drechsler/Clarion)

By Winter Drechsler | Staff Writer

The freedom to read is being celebrated with Banned Books Week at the Hayden Memorial Library. The celebration began Sept. 16 and is scheduled to continue until Sept. 27.

According to Vivian Linderman, a librarian at the Hayden Memorial Library, banned books week was started in 1982 by the American Library Association (ALA) to fight censorship and support the freedom to read whatever you want.

“My hope is that it will increase awareness of censorship and that the Citrus community will realize the privileges to information they have,” she said.

Sarah Bosler, the public services librarian at the Hayden Memorial Library, urges students to “stop by the library display and celebrate the freedom to read.”

Students are encouraged to participate by taking photos of themselves posing with their favorite banned book at the banned books display in the library and posting them on Instagram with the hashtag #owlsreadbannedbooks.

Banned Books Week is observed nationwide in honor of the American right to access information. Even today, this “freadom,” as the ALA has coined it, is challenged when individuals oppose the display of certain works of literature on school and library shelves.

According to the ALA, the main reasons people attempt to remove books from free public access are for sexually explicit material, offensive language and the judgement that the material is unsuited for any age group. These are the guidelines outlined in the Library Bill of Rights.

Different books may be banned from library and school systems, per state law. Once an individual has challenged a book, it is not immediately banned from that state’s library and school system. In fact, it is often placed on reserve shelves by librarians and educators. Books that are successfully banned, however, are removed from that state’s library and school systems.

The idea is, that even though every individual does not hold the same viewpoint, all individuals can express their viewpoints equally.

“We do not want to present only one side of a story. We want to give everyone a voice,” Bosler explained.

Stephanie Ballard, a librarian at the Hayden Memorial Library concurs, “most libraries and librarians believe that people should be able to read whatever they want without restriction,” she said. Elizabeth “Cheeks” Donahue, 20, a business major at Citrus College was browsing the banned books display. “I’ve read most of them and a lot of them have really good themes and morals,” She said.

Proof that Citrus College students should indeed be thankful for their freedom lies in one of the most highly challenged books of today: “50 Shades of Grey.” It is readily available to Citrus College students.

According to Bosler, it is also one of the most worn-out books in the Hayden Memorial Library.

The ALA website includes a quote from renowned American philosopher, Noam Chomsky: “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.” Stephanie Ballard, a Citrus College librarian, feels the same way. As Ballard explains it, librarians do more than just check out books.

“Librarians are crusaders for intellectual freedom,” she said. “Intellectual freedom just means the freedom to read whatever we want.” Students are welcomed to celebrate this right by taking selfies at the banned books display located between the library staircase and copy room.

Alex Ramirez, 20, a Kinesiology major, was the first student to photograph himself at the selfie station with his favorite childhood read, “Where the Wild Things Are.”

“Students should stop by and see the exhibit for themselves,” Ramirez said. adding “It would spark some curiosity and surprise people.”