September 22, 2008

Readings planned in honor of Banned Books Week

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Morris Library at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will sponsor readings from books previously banned in some place and time in recognition of Banned Books Week, Sept. 27-Oct. 4.

The readings will be at 5:30 p.m., Oct. 2, at the Longbranch Coffeehouse, 100 E. Jackson St. in Carbondale.

This is the 27th annual American Library Association week celebrating the American public’s freedom to read by increasing the awareness of books previously censored or banned. To participate in the activities, contact Melissa Hubbard, Morris Library’s rare book librarian, at or by calling 618/453-3269.

The late Ralph McCoy became director of the SIU library in 1955 and later became dean of library affairs. His two decades with the University included a strong interest in First Amendment rights and freedom of the press. Now, the library’s Ralph McCoy Freedom of the Press Collection is a very diverse and extensive collection of “challenged” reading materials, acquired through the decades.

“Censorship has long been a concern of librarians and we are indeed fortunate to have such a renowned collection at our disposal,” said David Carlson, dean of library affairs at SIUC. “In a larger sense, we encourage people to read what they want and celebrate the freedom to read.”

Such well-known novels as “The Great Gatsby,” “Catcher in the Rye,” “The Grapes of Wrath,” “1984,” “Of Mice and Men,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Ulysses” are just a few of the many books once challenged, censored or banned. For more information about banned books, look online at