Every fall, the American Library Association sponsors Banned Books Week, a week-long celebration to commemorate Americans’ rights to read freely by highlighting banned and challenged books in an educational and engaging way. Books can be “challenged,” where a person or group attempts to remove or restrict the book from libraries based on personal objections. A “banned” book is one that was challenged and ultimately removed from libraries. Books are challenged for a variety of reasons, such as when books include LGBTQIA+ characters, profanity, witchcraft, nudity, anti-police positions, or a variety of other reasons that some individuals or organizations deem controversial. In 1982, the Supreme Court case Island Trees School District v. Pico ruled that schools couldn’t ban books merely due to their content. However, regardless of the Supreme Court decision, books are still challenged and banned to this day. Some of the most challenged books of last year include "Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out” by Susan Kuklin, because of its inclusion of transgender characters, and “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, due to its “anti-cop” themes.
Nardos Gebreyohannes, junior psychology major and student employee in the library’s Technical Services Department, is a strong supporter of Banned Books Week. “It is important that we celebrate all kinds of people through books and have the freedom to not censor free speech,” she said. “I’m very glad we have the freedom to read what we want, when we want. Banning things because of one person’s beliefs does not reflect the wishes of all other kinds of people.” Banned Books Week will be celebrated at Indiana State University’s Cunningham Memorial Library from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3. More information on Banned Books Week at Cunningham Memorial Library can be found at libguides.indstate.edu/BannedBooksWeek.