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You Gotta Fight for Your Right to Read Banned Books!

A diverse panel comprised of librarians from both the public and school communities, as well as an English teacher, author, high school students and a parent of teens brought their unique perspectives to a program on banned books called, “You Gotta Fight for Your Right to Read Banned Books.”
 
Since the Banned Books Week materials for 2018 were recently made available, it is helpful to review some of the questions and discussions that came out of last fall's program, which was attended by 30 people and co-sponsored by the MLA Intellectual Freedom Panel and the MLA Teen Interest Group. A write-up of the 2017 panel discussion and program is included in this month's MLA newsletter, The Crab.
 

The CRAB newsletter is published by the Maryland Library Association and is one of the many benefits of MLA membership. For more information on important library issues and services, or to join MLA, visit mdlib.org.



IN CELEBRATION OF BANNED BOOKS WEEK 2017, which took place the week of September 24th, the MLA Intellectual Freedom Panel (IFP) and MLATeen Interest Group (TIG) co-hosted the fall program “You Gotta Fight for Your Right to Read Banned Books!”

Thirty people attended this panel discussion. The panel featured Erin Gambrill from Carroll County Public Library; Westminster High School English teacher Beth Daum; Westminster High School media specialist Gail Faust; young adult author Kathy MacMillan; Carroll County high school student Maddy Burton; and Janene Overby, a parent of two Carroll County high school students. Attendees and panelists discussed why books in school and public library collections are often challenged, how to talk to those concerned about materials, how to encourage teens to defend their right to read, and why it's important for teens to have access to diverse ideas and viewpoints.

Panelists spoke on their experiences discussing challenged and banned books with the public, as well as personal accounts of why access to these books is important to them. Following this discussion, attendees were invited to ask the panelists questions, many of which pertained to addressing challenges in the school system as a teacher or media specialist.

After the Q+A session, attendees broke out into small groups and developed responses to hypothetical challenges to frequently challenged books. Some of the books had been challenged for content. For example, This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki with illustrations by Jillian Tamaki, was challenged for content because of its LGBT characters, drug use, and profanity. Other books were challenged because of the book's author, such as Little Bill's My Big Lie by Bill Cosby. This exercise helped participants learn the correct responses to address book challenges, whether in the school or public library setting.

IFP and TIG were honored to have the late Steve LaBash, longtime Intellectual Freedom Panel member and prior Intellectual Freedom Officer, facilitate the discussion. This program would not have been possible without his contributions. While he passed away in February, his passion for access to information for all lives on in all who knew him.

Banned Books Week materials for 2018 became available from the American Library Association on Wednesday, April 4th. On April 9, the State of America's Libraries Report was released, which includes the list of the most challenged books in 2017. Three of 2016's Top 10 Most Challenged Books were challenged due to LGBT characters and content. Find out why LGBTQ+ representation in youth literature is important and how you can support the rights of young library users to access print, non-print, and digital materials for all at the MLA/DLA Conference presentation, LGBTQ+ and You(th) Access, sponsored by IFP, on Friday, May 4th at 10:45!

The CRAB newsletter is published by the Maryland Library Association and is one of the many benefits of MLA membership. For more information on important library issues and services, or to join MLA, visit mdlib.org.

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