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Banned Books Week arrives

In turbulent times, books are tools that help people navigate the world around them. Intellectual freedom and access to information uplift people in crisis and during more peaceful times, so the James V. Brown Library invites you to champion the right to read during Banned Books Week from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3.

Banned Books Week is the most important opportunity during the year for advocates — publishers, booksellers, librarians, educators, journalists, and readers — to explain why we must defend everyone’s right to choose what they want to read and view.

Since it was founded in 1982, Banned Books Week has helped people recognize and navigate censorship, and the battle for free expression is unending. Reading brings people together, but censorship drives us apart.

The theme of this year’s event, “Censorship Is a Dead End,” is a reminder that we need to fight censorship to “Find Our Freedom to Read.”

“Books can help young people and readers of all ages explore worlds, lives, and experiences beyond their own,” says Nora Pelizzari, director of communications for the National Coalition Against Censorship. “This exploration is crucial in learning to think critically and independently and to navigate ourselves through life. Limiting access to ideas hurts everyone, and particularly students. Banned Books Week gives us a chance to champion the diverse ideas books let us explore.”

In 2019, the American Library Association tracked 377 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services, as well as 566 books that were challenged or banned. A full list is available at http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/banned.

It is estimated that over half of all banned books are by authors of color, or contain events and issues concerning diverse communities, according to ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

Nationwide, the top 5 most frequently challenged books of 2019 were:

“George” by Alex Gino.

“Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out” by Susan Kuklin.

“A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo” by Jill Twiss.

“Sex is a Funny Word” by Cory Silverberg.

“Prince and Knight” by Daniel Haack.

Celebrate your freedom to read by reading a banned book today! Having these books available in public libraries is one way the Brown Library supports the PA Forward statewide initiative, which believes that libraries are community pillars of information and learning, providing numerous points of view.

For your safety, all returned materials are quarantined for three days.

The James V. Brown Library is open for browsing and holds pick up from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. To place a hold, visit www.jvbrown.edu or call 570-326-0536 during the library’s operating hours. The library also is open for public computer usage and for services such as printing, faxing, copying and scanning. Passport services are available by appointment.

The James V. Brown Library, 19 E. Fourth St., Williamsport, Pa., is the place to go to learn, connect and grow. Founded in June 1907, the library champions the love of reading, opens new doors to lifelong learning, provides a haven to those who seek and ensures the preservation of public library services for future generations. The library has more than 225,000 visitors in a year and circulates a half-million items annually. A member of the Lycoming County Library System, the James V. Brown Library participates in PA Forward, a statewide initiative to promote literacies in our communities to power a better future for everyone.

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