Bringing the banned back – Lansing Library gives away banned books this week

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banned books
Free books are available at the Lansing Library during Banned Books Week. More will be added as the week goes on. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
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Book giveaway during Banned Books Week, while supplies last

By Josh Bootsma

LANSING, Ill. (September 19, 2022) – Sunday, September 18 marked the start of Banned Books Week nationwide and to celebrate, the Lansing Library is doing the opposite of banning books: it’s giving them away for free.

Books like Kite Runner, The Handmaid’s Tale, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and others are on display at the library for the week, and local residents are invited to claim them as their own.

“We believe our community should be able to read anything they want to read,” said Lansing Library Director Lisa Korajczyk, who said questions of censorship are best left to parents of individual readers.

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banned books
On the back of the display, books are available for checkout. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Banned books – data and history

Banned Books Week was started in 1982 in response to “a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries,” according to bannedbooksweek.org.

Books have been banned or challenged for a variety of reasons, including graphic violence, sexual content, gender-related content, racial slurs, and supporting a specific social agenda.

PEN America, a non-profit dedicated to issues of literature and human rights, has created an index of banned books in the United States from July 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022. The index lists bans on 1,145 titles by 874 different authors.

Bans stemming from school districts are most common, says PEN America, with book bans occurring in 86 school districts in 26 states. These districts represent 2,899 schools with a combined enrollment of over 2 million students, says the organization.

Nearly half of all banned books (47%) fall into the young adult category, written for readers ages 13-17, says PEN America. The most common topic currently being banned in libraries, schools, and elsewhere in America is LGBTQ+, with 33% of the banned book list dealing with these issues. Other common topics include health- and sexual-related content (25%), racism and social justice (22%), and history (16%).

Banned books while supplies last

Free banned or challenged books are available at the Library as supplies last. Library staff will continue to re-stock the shelf, located near the entrance of the Library, as books are claimed, and as inventory allows.

The Lansing Public Library is located at 2750 Indiana Avenue.

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