September 10, 2018

Banned Books Week recognized at SIU’s Morris Library

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Throughout time, the written word has at times sparked controversy and led to the banning of books. Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Morris Library is recognizing Banned Books Week Sept. 23-29, with a special events and displays.

Banned children’s books and McCoy materials focus of two special displays

The library will have two special displays in place. On the third floor, near the Instructional Materials Center, visitors will find an exhibit highlighting children’s literature that has been challenged or banned. Included are a wide variety of titles, including some quite familiar to many people such as the “Hunger Games” series by Suzanne Collins, the “Harry Potter” series by J.K. Rowling and David Gerrard’s “Animal Farm.”

On the first floor, near Delyte’s, Ralph E. McCoy’s personal collection of First Amendment freedoms materials will be displayed. The collection traces the origin of the freedom of expression concept in the United States and the United Kingdom from about 1600 to the current era.

Everyone is welcome to view the displays during library hours.

Check out the Banned Books Buffet

The library is hosting a Banned Books Buffet from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 26 in the front entrance lobby, near the Abraham Lincoln bust. Students, faculty, staff and community members are welcome to attend and get a picture with “banned” books in the selfie booth.

Commemorative bookmarks, buttons and copies of the “2017 Field Report on Banned and Challenged Books” will also be available. Light refreshments will be served.

Books are challenged by the hundreds

Books are still banned and challenged today. A challenge is essentially an attempt to remove or restrict materials because a person or group objects to the printed material or some part therein. Sometimes, the objections are upheld and books are actually banned.

The American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 416 books challenged or banned among library, school and university materials in 2017. The most commonly challenged were: “Thirteen Reasons Why,” by Jay Asher; “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie; “Drama,” written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier; and “The Kite Runner,” by Khaled Hosseini.

Despite challenges and even bans, controversial books remain available, thanks to the librarians, teachers, students and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read, according to Pam Hackbart-Dean, director of Morris Library’s Special Collections Research Center.

For more information about Banned Book Week or the center, contact Hackbart-Dean at or 618/453-1452.