College community celebrates freedom to read at Banned Books Week

Meghan Schmitt, Crier Staff

Banned Books Week is an annual event recognized internationally that “stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them.” Events were planned at Saint Anselm College from Sept. 26-30 to celebrate our freedom to read.

In the past, Geisel Library had displayed a poster in honor of Banned Books Week, but this is the first year that they have hosted events as well. On Sept. 26, the college community gathered in front of Geisel Library from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to read passages from novels such as Ulysses, Fahrenheit 451, and more. In the Geisel Library Reading Room, there was a panel of faculty members who discussed the harms of censorship on Sept. 27.

But what makes a book banned? According to TIME magazine, the top reasons for banning books are sexual explicitness, offensive language, unsuited for a specific age group, violence, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, occult/Satanism, nudity, and drugs.

What this reveals is that the choice to ban a book is a subjective decision. Books are perceived differently based on time and place, so Banned Books Week is a time for these books and their contents to be re-examined in the present.

Geisel Library reference and instruction librarian Hannah Lindquist reminds us that Banned Books Week is about our rights as citizens: “This week reminds us of what we often take for granted the rest of the year—our right to access information on all sides of issues, and how rich our society is made by welcoming a diversity of ideas.”

She continues, “It recognizes that individuals have the capacity to handle and sift through ideas for themselves, especially those ideas they might find uncomfortable or challenging along the way. Our First Amendment right to free speech recognizes that everyone has something valuable to say, and Banned Books Week highlights how the freedom to speak also means the freedom to listen.”

In 1982, Banned Books Week was founded by Judith Krug, prominent First Amendment and library activist.