October 09, 2012
We were happy to glance at the morning newspapers the other day and find two rousing defenses of free speech – one from the president of the United States, and the other from a local library official helping to highlight censorship threats.
In his address to the United Nations, President Barack Obama tried to explain why this country values freedom of expression, even when it offends certain people.
Many Americans seem puzzled that the basic concept of free expression gets such short shrift in numerous countries around the globe. But if we want to nurture freedom of expression abroad, we have to nurture and protect it here at home.
That’s why civic exercises such as Banned Books Week are important. Observed each year in many libraries across the country, Banned Books Week reminds readers of books that have either been banned or challenged in U.S. library collections. The observance is a reminder that even here in the United States, not everyone believes in free expression. Some would presume to question not only an opposing or offensive idea, but the right of a fellow citizen to express that idea.
In this year as in many previous ones, LSU’s libraries have extended Banned Books Week into a monthlong event, with a special exhibit in Room 227 of Middleton Library that runs through Oct. 31.
Peggy P. Chalaron, head of LSU’s Education Resource Center, offered an observation about book censorship we should all remember: “Not every book is right for all people, but one person who challenges a book should not be able to decide for an entire community.”
Over the years, books banned or challenged in libraries across the country have included “To Kill A Mockingbird” for its racial themes, “Of Mice and Men” for its “indecency” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” for being racially offensive.
A banned book is a volume permanently removed from the shelf of a library. A challenged book is one that has attracted a complaint from a patron who wants it banned.
LSU Libraries’ Banned Books Week exhibit will be on display from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 10 p.m. Sundays. Library hours, which are subject to change, can be confirmed by calling (225) 578-2349 or (225) 578-5652, or by visiting the LSU Libraries website at http://www.lib.lsu.edu.