It is National Banned Book Week–if we don’t have your favorite banned book at The Community Library, just ask at the front desk. We do requests. Chances are, you’ll find most of the most frequently challenged and banned books already on our shelves, from Harry Potter (Witchcraft!) to the Anarchist Cookbook (Anarchy!). Well, maybe not the Anarchist Cookbook. Our copy appears to have been stolen. Again. (It is one of the most frequently stolen titles in libraries around the country, according to library lore passed on in librarian Freedom of Information gatherings.)
Theft is actually rare at the Community Library–there is a real upside to having free library cards for all visitors with no geographical limitations. There is no reason to steal when there are no barriers to borrowing. There are some exceptions–our occult section is strangely vulnerable to theft by those objecting to the content. We’ve had similar instances of book stealing in young adult books, not by young adults, but by moral arbiters who object to content. As librarians, we do frown upon the dubious rationale that the commission of theft from our community of borrowers in the name of ‘morality’ constitutes an ethical win.
Libraries around the country, with help from the American Library Association, still fight book banning efforts in many communities. Interestingly, since the turn of the new century, challenges by parents or patrons have gone down, but ban requests by special interest groups are going up. This Wednesday at 5:00 pm tonight, smack in the middle of Banned Book Week, North Carolina’s Randolph County Board of Education is having a hearing on the banning the classic work by Ralph Ellison, The Invisible Man. (Our 1952 copy was lost, but we replaced it with a 1992 reprint, and also have the title as a book on CD.)
What is your favorite banned book, from James to Twain? Chances are, you’ll find it @TheCommunityLibrary.