Alkek Library celebrated the controversy surrounding banned books with a weeklong series of events meant to inspire Texas State students to expand their literary awareness and knowledge. Banned books are books that are challenged by parents, teachers and all sorts of individuals that want those books out of the library.
Banned Books Week is the American Libraries Association’s response to banned and challenged books and was celebrated Sept. 25-29. The American Library Association is a nonprofit organization based in the United States that actively advocates and educates in defense of intellectual freedom internationally. The American Library Association along with book publishers and other organizations use this event to promote the rights of library users to read, seek information and speak freely as guaranteed by the First Amendment. The Library Bill of Rights and the Library Code of Ethics both talk about the importance of free and unfettered access.
Tricia Boucher, librarian, said Alkek represents all students, so it important to have literature that does so.
“As librarians, we work really hard to not censor books and information through the library,” Boucher said.
Banned Books Week has typically taken place during the last week of September. In past years, Alkek has done a simple Banned Book Read-Out that allowed individuals to read from their favorite banned books for five minutes at a time. The idea behind previous Banned Book Read-Outs was to give individuals a flavor for what kind of books get banned.
Elizabeth Hibbs, the Information and Undergraduate Services Librarian felt that Alkek could do something larger for the 2017 celebration. It all came together under the umbrella of Banned Book Week 2017 with the assistance of Emily Segoria, learning commons assistant; Jason Crouch, learning commons assistant; Sarah Chestnut, retroactive cataloging assistant; Lynn Fortney, cataloging assistant; Hithia Davis, collections merchandising and expanded services assistant; Jeremy Moore, digital and media specialist, and other groups.
Banned Books Week 2017 began with Monday Movie Night in the Alkek Cinema Media Corner and featured the film, “Watership Down.” “Watership Down” is a fantasy adventure novel by English author Richard Adams that has been frequently challenged and contested by school districts.
Tuesday’s Banned Book Read-Out was put on by The Information and Undergraduate Services Unit and took place in the Alkek Open Theater where novels that had been banned in Spain were read and discussed. The Lit Society also held its first meeting of the semester where they discussed Marjane Satrapi’s graphic autobiography, “Persepolis.”
“At the heart of the Lit Society, we want to stress that if you’re passionate about books and passionate about reading than to come check us out,” said Donna Dean, library and learning commons assistant.
Wednesday’s events included a lunch poetry reading hosted by Elizabeth King, humanities librarian, in partnership with James Thomson, a third-year MFA student in the MFA Creative Writing Poetry Program. Wednesday evening included Game Night from 6-9 p.m. with banned book trivia. Banned Books Week’s Game Night attracted the largest group of participants and featured various board games, card games, trivia and prizes. The trivia portion was a new addition to Game Night designed to teach individuals information surrounding banned books.
Thursday’s event was Blind Date with a Book. Blind Date with a Book took place in Alkek’s Open Theater and lasted all day. Blind Date with a Book gave individuals the opportunity to select a randomly covered banned book that they were able to read and or checkout at their own discretion. Alkek’s next scheduled Blind Date with a Book is Valentine’s Day 2018.
Friday celebrated International Coffee Day with free coffee in the Alkek Open Theater. Students were able to check out any of the remaining banned books while enjoying a warm cup of coffee throughout the day.
King said she noticed the traffic that Banned Book Week brought into Alkek.
“It (has) been exciting to see how many books are being checked out, everyone’s walking away with a book,” King said.
Texas State’s celebration of Banned Books Week 2017 was successful in drawing a large variety of new individuals to Alkek Library to learn and discover the importance of literature in all its different mediums. Alkek Library used Banned Books Week as a tool to educate students, faculty and anyone interested that banned books are stored alongside Alkek’s vast collection of books and literature and are available at all times for any student to read or check out.