Southern Utah University’s Gerald R. Sherratt Library is holding its annual Banned Books event on Monday, Sept. 27. The event will be held in the library lobby from 2-3 p.m. This event hopes to bring awareness to censorship and the First Amendment in educational institutions.
Students can browse through carts full of books that have been banned or pulled from institutions across the country at the event. Even though this event has always been in-person, a new feature will be a Zoom lecture from library staff this year.
“Every year in September they have a banned books period in the American Library Association,” said Christopher Clark, an assistant professor in the Library & Information Science Department. “I’ll be doing a Zoom lecture on the history of banned books and a Q&A so students can ask questions.”
Censorship and the use of the First Amendment in education is hardly a new debate. Public libraries have been at the center of countless court battles regarding the removal of books that contain potentially offensive material.
The biggest culprit is books that discuss topics such as race, ethnicity, sexuality and religion. The pressure to remove books from the curriculum is not from students, but from parents who fear their children are learning the wrong materials.
Many educational institutions strongly advocate for academic freedom and venturing into controversial topics is part of the learning process rather than banning certain kinds of literature.
Through this event, students can learn more about the possible repercussions and use their freedom of expression to protect education.
Demands for censorship put administrators in a bind. Taking a particular book out of the curriculum can damage the quality of educational programs and miss state education requirements, but keeping parents satisfied is always a priority.
The Library also hopes students will check out other events they hold throughout the semester. At the end of October, the Library holds a horror movie and scary stories event. In November, the Library will hold two more events — A Library Odyssey, highlighting astronomy and science fiction, and an Art Exhibition.
The Library strives to host entertaining events where students can get their questions answered and the Banned Books event is the perfect place to start.
To find more information and keep up with their events, visit the Library website.
Article & Photos By: Addie Horsley