Ban These Books? Let’s Talk
America’s burgeoning cultural wars have swept into school and community libraries, where works from Huckleberry Finn to Toni Morrison’s Beloved have long faced challenges. Now, a new politically charged wave of book-banning sentiment takes aim at titles on sexual and racial identity.
Marking this year’s observance of Banned Books Week, September 18-24, a panel of veteran librarians from Kansas City-area library systems examines the issue and walks through a range of books that have been targeted for removal or restriction in public libraries and schools. Joining the discussion, which is moderated by Kaite Stover, the Kansas City Public Library’s director of readers’ services, are:
- Cass County Public Library Director Dan Brower
- Lacie Griffin, collection development and interlibrary loan manager at the Johnson County Library
- Longtime Kansas City Public Schools librarian Rebecca Marcum Parker
- Debbie Stoppello, director of library collections at the Kansas City Public Library
Advocates of book bans often point to specific content that they maintain is too graphic and inappropriate for younger readers. Many students and parents have pushed back against those challenges, however. They join a wider call for intellectual freedom and inclusive collections in school and other libraries, and libraries themselves remain resistant to allowing an individual or single group to dictate what everyone can read.