Banned Books

September 29 through October 6 was Banned Books Week. This annual event reminds us Americans not to take the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion for granted.

I’ve read banned books, and I bet you have, too. The list of banned books includes classics like Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird. Like me, you probably had no idea that there were any ideas so objectionable in those books that we needed to be protected from them. Obviously, someone saw something that I did not, and that difference of opinion is the very basis of the intellectual freedom we Americans enjoy.

We each have the right to hold any opinion on any subject, and we can communicate those opinions through a variety of means. Providing access to ideas and information of all kinds is the Public Library’s mission. Librarians everywhere adhere to the opinion of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas that “Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.”

So the Madison Public Library has materials that frequently make the banned books lists, and the library will continue to make books like the Harry Potter series and others available to anyone who wants to read them. Frankly, if there isn’t something on the Public Library’s shelves that you disagree with, we’re not doing our job.

I find the exchange of ideas and discussion of differing viewpoints stimulating. It pushes me to consider the facts, weigh the information, and possibly draw some new conclusions. Take advantage of the Public Library’s open invitation to enjoy that kind of stimulation through books, magazines, newspapers, video, the Internet, and discussion.