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Libraries promoting intellectual freedom during Banned Books Week

| October 4, 2023
There's a Banned Books Week display in the Dover Library's Adult Department There’s a temporary display in the library’s adult department explaining how libraries support intellectual freedom. (Dover Public Library) 

DOVER (WJER) (Oct. 4, 2023) – Libraries across the country and here locally have been taking a stand against literary censorship.

It’s Banned Books Week, an observance established more than 40 years ago in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in libraries, bookstores, and schools. Dover Library Director Jim Gill says thousands of books have been challenged or banned for various reasons including Charlotte’s Web, The Great Gatsby, and the Harry Potter series. 

“Some are sheer lunacy. Some are, ‘Well, they got a point there’ It just depends on what the situation is and where that challenge was made, what part of the country, what was the social and economic, cultural norms of the time. That makes a big difference. Right now, books that are being challenged have to do with political issues, LGBTQ rights, things like that.”

There’s a temporary display in the library’s adult department explaining how libraries support intellectual freedom by providing access to materials that reflect our diverse community.  

“There’s an interactive little exercise where you can make a decision on a question and choose what’s right for you. And so that little exercise at our Adult Department desk is a way to reiterate that what you choose to check out, to read is your decision. It’s not the government’s decision. It’s not your neighbor’s decision. It’s your decision, and that is a sacred right, we believe.”

This year’s Banned Books Week theme is “Let Freedom Read.” Michelle McMorrow-Ramsell directs the countywide library system and says they strongly believe in an individual’s right to make their own literacy choices. 

“The freedom to read is the freedom to be able to choose what they want to read and also the freedom to choose not to read something, and we always support parents involvement in what their children read as well.” 

The library system hosts a Banned Books Club that meets on the second Saturday of each month to discuss controversial titles. October’s book is “11/23/63” by Stephen King, a novel about a time traveler who tries to stop the JFK assassination.

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