Who bans books in the United States; and why?
Lincoln Public Library banned books exhibit returns with all new lineup

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[October 27, 2014]  LINCOLN - Who bans books in the United States? We like to think that our country is an open society where people can chose for themselves, and their family members, what appropriate reading material is. But that is not always the case.

The Lincoln Public Library has a new exhibit of banned books that is done in conjunction with October, which is banned books month. Banned book curator Jaime Fish has selected a dozen books that have been banned in certain locales in the U.S. over the years, some as recent as 2012. “I spent six weeks crafting this exhibit. My sources were mainly the American Library Association and the Illinois Library Association,” she said.

This is the third year the library has highlighted banned books. The exhibit runs through the end of October.

Each book that Jaime has selected for the exhibit is covered, and a clue to the book is fixed to the outside. Try to guess the contents from the clue.

Once the cover is removed and the book is revealed, there is a short explanation of where in the U.S. the book was prohibited and why. There will be some surprises when the contents are known.

While most of the entities banning books seem to be schools and school boards, some of the ones selected this year were kept away from everyone in the country. There is no region that is over represented. The areas go from the east coast to the south and Midwest all the way to California.

The reasons for banning books are varied, some seem arbitrary, but basically come down to sex, language, religion, and perceived racial issues.

In one case, an author was not allowed to come to a school to defend her book after it was banned by a local school board. Her visit to the school district had been arranged before the book was banned, but was revoked after the decision was made.

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In another case, an author interviewed 200 students in a school district to determine what issues were most important to them – to determine what was on their minds.

The author used this target audience feedback to craft her book, but the adults denied student access to it.

All of the banned books in this exhibit have received prestigious awards, and one of these is considered the most basic of learning tools, an absolutely necessary element of every student’s education. That is as close to a spoiler alert as possible without revealing this very surprising selection.

Another selection is a beloved children’s book that was banned because of a seemingly obscure reason that Jaime Fish was not able to document anywhere other than the community where it was banned. Some of the selections in this year’s list that have been banned in other locales have been used in reading programs in Lincoln.

Stop by the Lincoln Public Library before the end of October and check out the exhibit. It is thought provoking.

[Curt Fox]


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