In America, the battle for free speech often takes place in the quietest of places: the library.
National Banned Books Week continues through Saturday and is an annual event that raises awareness about the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. The event, now celebrating its 30th year, is sponsored by the American Library Association.
“Libraries are one of the last bastions of freedom of information,” said Deba Swan, a librarian and dean of library services at Central Texas College. “We are celebrating freedom to read and protecting our First Amendment rights.”
Swan has been organizing a Banned Books Week event at the college since 2003. This year, students will be able to visit the college’s Hobby Memorial Library and see a display on banned and challenged books, as well as view a series of movies based on “banned” books each day.
Swan said that while most books aren’t outright banned anymore, groups and individuals often “challenge” books in public and school libraries based on moral, religious or other grounds.
A list of 2011’s most challenged books mostly include works for young adults such as Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” trilogy, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie and the “Gossip Girl” series by Cecily Von Ziegesar.
Classic literature such as Alduous Huxley’s “Brave New World” and Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mocking Bird” also made the 2011 list of most challenged books.
“There is still an issue of censorship and having the freedom to choose what to read is forever under fire,” Swan said. “You can’t let one group of people make that choice for everybody else.”
The events at the college’s library will run through Friday.