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Stand up for your right to read and learn more about challenged books

September 8, 2016

VCU Libraries hosts participatory and learning experiences to mark Banned Books Week, Sept. 25-Oct. 1.


Banned Book Week is an annual effort by the American Library Association to call attention to the fact that many books--even some of the great classics--have been challenged or banned or removed from libraries due to criticism, censorship or pressure from individuals or community groups.


Events held during this week celebrate the freedom to read. Beyond libraries, booksellers, publishers, teachers and authors also support the week, which highlights the First Amendment right to access and read books on every subject, even ones that may be considered controversial.


“To protect the right for people to read what they choose to read is a fundamental issue for librarians," says M. Teresa Doherty, who has organized the activities at James Branch Cabell Library. She is assistant head for access services and a member of the American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee.


“Challenges are made not just to materials in public libraries, but also in school libraries  and academic research libraries as well,” she said. “We encourage students, faculty, and staff at VCU to defend the First Amendment and read a banned book.”


Opportunities are:

  • Read from banned or challenged materials. Students, faculty and staff are invited to read on video a short selection from their favorite banned or challenged book, Monday, Sept. 26, 1 to 3 p.m. and Tuesday, Sept. 27, 4 to 6 p.m. in study room 201a. These short videos will be shared online.

  • Selfies with banned books. Look for a cart in the lobby near the Information Desk for books, comics, DVDs, videogames and other items that have been challenged. Take selfies with a favorite item. Share via social media with the hashtag #VCUright2read.  

  • Green screen photo op. Pose against a green screen, choose a fun background and  take a stand for the right to read. Photos will be posted on VCU Libraries Flickr and used on other VCU Libraries social media. Cabell Lobby, Wednesday Sept. 28, 2 to 4 p.m.

  • Learn about "The Comic Book Menace! Banning Comics in the U.S." VCU English professor Tom De Haven, an expert on this topic and an engaging speaker, will talk on the history of comic book censorship. Thursday, Sept. 29, 7 to 9 p.m., Cabell Library, Room 250. 

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