Banned Books Week will be recognized at Troy University Libraries on its Alabama campuses from Sept. 25 – Oct. 1.
The Dothan, Montgomery and Troy campuses will be united with a central theme of “Diversity” and the slogan “Stand Up for Your Right to Read.”
Troy Libraries was one of only six organizations to receive the Freedom to Read Foundation’s Judith F. Krug Memorial Fund $1,000 grant to help fund Banned Books Week.
The Freedom to Read Foundation website said that The Judith F. Krug Memorial Fund “is dedicated to continuing and promoting the remarkable legacy of Judith Krug, founding executive director of the Freedom to Read Foundation and founding director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom.”
“Starting in 2010, FTRF initiated the Judith Krug Fund Banned Books Week event grants project to disburse grants to organizations,” according to the website. “Judith was a co-founder of Banned Books Week.”
According to the American Library Association, “Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read” and “highlighting the value of free and open access to information.”
Lizz Robb, a senior psychology major from Tuscaloosa, said she believes that everyone has a right to read and a right to learn in his or her own way.
“Through reading we learn, not just to better our vocabulary but to to strengthen our imagination and communication,” she said. “We learn about different places and lifestyles and how people grew up there. By banning books, you’re banning learning, and I believe that everyone has the right to learn.”
Banned books have been targeted for removal or restriction nationwide in schools and libraries across the country.
“Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular,” the ALA website said.
The Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles a list of challenged books based on data from media stories and reports sent to the group from communities in the United States.
The top ten most frequently challenged books of 2015 include “Looking for Alaska” by John Green, “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E. L. James, “I Am Jazz” by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, “Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out” by Susan Kuklin, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon, The Holy Bible, “Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan” by Jeanette Winter and “Two Boys Kissing” by David Levithan.
Several classic challenged or banned books that the OIF has identified include “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee and “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R Tolkien.
Kayla Boston, a senior music major from Panama City, Florida, said she thinks young adults ought to be able to read what they choose.
“We have the ability to decide what offends us and what doesn’t, and we don’t need any one else to make that decision for us,” Boston said.
During Banned Books Week, Troy campus students, faculty and staff will have the opportunity to “Read with T-Roy,” the University’s mascot. Faculty will also share about their favorite banned books at a “Read Out” event, and art students will be submitting works that illustrate the impact of their favorite banned books.
Kirk Curnutt, professor and chair of English on Montgomery’s campus, will be giving a lecture offered to high school students. He shared the importance of the diversity theme and the effect of censorship.
“I think we often don’t realize that a lot of the issues that go into banned books, lots of the reasons specific books are banned, have to do with the suppression of certain voices,” Curnutt said. “So I think that diversity is a way of demonstrating that there are certain people, or certain groups more likely to be banned.”
“Not all books are banned because it’s a freedom of speech issue, or there’s something in it the offends parents,” Curnutt said. “Most times books are banned for political reasons.”
“I think it’s important for people to understand that banning books never works. I think that taking the books out of the hands of people is really discouraging,” Curnutt said. “Rather than stopping people from reading things, we oughta have them read it and have a civil conversation about the meaning of books.”
Curnutt said that he hopes people will become interested in banned books and understand why others are attempting to remove certain texts.
“My hope is that people will be interested in the idea of why things get banned, and I hope it makes them want to go read, and be active politically in terms of having a free society, and to understand that really there are always forces out there trying to control what they can get access to, and it’s usually done in the name of their benefit,” Curnutt said.