The Monroe County Public Library will celebrate the American Library Association’s (ALA) annual Banned Books Week with a variety of events from Sept. 18 -24.
Banned Books Week “spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools,” according to the ALA’s press release. The week-long celebration recognizes the importance of intellectual freedom and the sharing of ideas from all perspectives.
MCPL communications and marketing manager Tori Lawhorn said the library will recognize Banned Books Week by posting a variety of banned book lists on their websites, as well as arranging book displays at their physical locations.
In preparation for the week’s events, the Kirkwood Avenue location will offer a Homeschool Art Lab: Banned Book Charms event on Sept. 14 as part of their monthly homeschool art program. Students will wrap printed images of book covers over small clay charms to create miniature versions of banned titles like Little House on the Prairie, the Hobit and George.
The Kirkwood location will also welcome younger book lovers to the Teen Artist Club: Mini Banned Book Jewelry event on Sept. 19 and the Tween Reads: Banned Book Club on Sept. 21. Ellettsville's library will host the jewelry event on Sept. 20. Registration for each event is required and is available on the library’s website.
Lawhorn said she hopes the weeklong celebration will illuminate how essential it is to recognize banned books.
“We're here to provide our community with equitable and impartial access to information and opportunities,” Lawhorn said. “Often that includes books that can be challenged or banned by certain groups.”
According to the ALA’s annual State of America’s Libraries report, 1,597 books were challenged or removed from libraries, schools and universities in 2021 – a 585% increase from the 273 books challenged in 2020. Lawhorn said 62% of the books were banned by schools – most of which included works by or about LGBTQ+ and POC communities.
For Lawhorn, those statistics kickstart important conversations about access to information in schools, and why it’s so important that MCPL continues to provide a diverse range of views and opinions.
“(The statistics) give a perspective on what's happening in terms of intellectual freedom in schools,” she said. “Books are being challenged in an environment that's the majority of a student's experience Monday through Friday.”
Everyone in the Bloomington community is welcome to attend banned book events that week, Lawhorn said.
“We've got something for everyone,” she said. “We're definitely encouraging our patrons to come out and enjoy some banned books.”