Saturday, October 4, 2014

The ignored Banned Books Week

Over the years, I've had a variety of experiences during and responses to Banned Books Week.  Last year went amazingly well and generated a lot of interest, mostly to the positive.  (Though a particularly colorful patron saw the note that Scarlett behaves immorally on the cover of Gone with the Wind, and gleefully announced to the library that "She's a slut!" before my staff ushered him out.)  Another year, I had a presentation backfire when I discussed The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and its challenges in history with a middle school class that was reading the book; they decided that it should be banned.  And then there was the time I made a display in the school library, and a few books, including 1984, walked off and were never seen again.  Hopefully the students that pilfered them enjoyed the reads?

Then there was this year.  The public library has a display case, which I filled with information and fiery images.

Prior to Banned Books Week, "It's Perfectly Normal" was kept in the staff room, available only upon request.
Side view of the first sign.
I shared plenty of data.
Side view of "It's Perfectly Normal" and information.
I also made a display of banned and challenged books in the YA and children's sections.
YA books
Children's books
How many people showed interest in these displays?

One staff member, my new clerk, who eagerly read through the material and found it all interesting (including how many have been made into movies).

Not one patron said anything or took note of the displays.  No one gave the case so much as a glance, despite its prominent position between the new releases and circulation desk.

Honestly, it's a little hard not to take it personally.  I love Banned Books Week a lot.  I put a lot of effort into research, planning, and implementation.  It's also difficult to not give in to grumbling about the sorts of people that don't care about censorship.  But really, this library serves a fairly older population, that just likes a quiet library to browse at and check out print books.  This sort of display attracts far more attention in a high poverty, rural, anti-government setting, like my previous library.  Different demographics want different things.

So, to put a positive spin on my ignored Banned Books Week, this was a learning experience.


  1. I had some kids get into my banned books display this year, but sometimes they don't barely look at anything. Don't take it personal. I'd say just keep doing it! I think it is an important one. Also, I tagged you in the Chocolate Book Tag, you can go check it out HERE.

    1. Yes, I will keep celebrating Banned Books Week somehow. :)

      Thanks for the tag. I hadn't heard of that meme before.