Washoe County Library System will join in the national celebration of the freedom to read during Banned Books Week from October 1-7, 2023. This year’s Banned Books Week theme is “Let Freedom Read.”
Banned Books Week draws attention to national and local efforts to remove or restrict access to books in libraries, schools, and bookstores. Launched in 1982, this annual event highlights the freedom to seek and to express ideas and emphasizes the importance of the fight against censorship. Washoe County Library plans to mark the celebration by featuring frequently challenged titles on display and available to check out throughout the library system.
Between January 1 and August 31, 2023, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom documented challenges to 1,915 unique titles nationwide. This reflects a 20 percent increase in the number of book challenges recorded during the same reporting period in 2022.
Since 2014, Washoe County Library Collection Development Manager Debi Stears has received two formal book challenge requests. Stears states, “One of the real strengths of our collection is that we have a wide range of materials that reflects the interests of our wonderfully diverse population. Banned Books Week gives us an opportunity to emphasize how important it is that we continue to protect the right to read for all members of our community.” More recently, Stears has observed an uptick in less formal methods of challenging books occurring at multiple Washoe County Library locations.
Currently on display at the Spanish Springs Library, “What are your neighbors hiding from you?” features several books that have been intentionally damaged or hidden by members of the public in an effort to prevent patron access. Censored titles include books about the LGBTQIA+ community, African Americans, Native Americans, immigrants, politics, sexuality, and the Holocaust. Books featured in the display are available for checkout.
Patrons are invited to visit a Banned Books Week display at any Washoe County Library location, explore online displays at catalog.washoecountylibrary.us, and learn more about local and nationwide efforts to combat censorship at bannedbooksweek.org. Visit washoecountylibary.us for library locations and hours and for online access to downloadable copies of frequently challenged titles.