Posts Tagged ‘Banned Books Week’

Library Bill of Rights

by Kara Logsden on September 7th, 2017
Forrest Spaulding Photograph

Forrest Spaulding Photograph

2017 marks the 100th anniversary Forrest Spaulding’s first appointment as Director of the Des Moines Public Library. He is a pioneer in the Library world for his advocacy for human rights and belief that all people should have free and equal access to information. He is also remembered as a humanitarian and advocate for outreach service. He was named by American Libraries Magazine as one of the 100 most important library leaders of the 20th Century.

Spaulding is best known for writing the Library Bill of Rights (see text below). He started his career as a journalist and learned from time working in Peru about the dangers of censorship. Concerns about censorship increased in the United States in the late 1930’s. Spaulding was pressured to censor items in the Des Moines Public Library collection. His response was a Library Bill of Rights presented to the DMPL Board of Trustees.

The Library Bill of Rights, adopted by the Des Moines Public Library Board of Trustees, was also adopted by the American Library Association on June 19, 1939. It has been amended a few times but the sentiment remains the same. Today it reads:

The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.

I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.

V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

Adopted June 19, 1939, by the ALA Council; amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; February 2, 1961; June 27, 1967; January 23, 1980; inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996.

Annually in September, libraries across the country join in celebrating Banned Book Week. This year the celebration starts on September 24th. The Iowa City Public Library has many programs planned for Banned Books Week as well as the annual Carol Spaziani Intellectual Freedom Festival. A highlight of this year’s program is a visit by NPR’s Brooke Gladstone on Sunday September 24th at 2:00 PM at the Englert Theatre.

As I reflect on the Library Bill of Rights and what it means in our community, I am thankful for Forrest Spaulding and the many librarians who have been pioneers in the area of Intellectual Freedom. Their advocacy helps assure our public libraries continue to provide equal access to information and ideas.

Reading another person’s letters …

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on October 1st, 2015

An upcoming episode of On Air: The ICPL podcast will feature a Favorite Book segment.

Not books.


It isn’t easy choosing a favorite book. I have tons of favorites from various stages in life, but there is one title that remains my hands-down favorite: 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff.

84, Charing Cross Road details the 20-year friendship between Hanff, a writer living in New York City, and Frank Doel, chief buyer of Marks & Co., antiquarian booksellers in London. This lovely non-fiction book is an epistolary book, written entirely in the pair’s letters. (It was later turned into a stage play, TV play and a movie, starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins.)

I love epistolary novels – books written as a series of documents, such as letters and journal entries. There’s realness with this genre, even in fiction works. Reading something private instantly makes the reader part of the character’s personal life.

Some of my favorite epistolary titles include Stephen Chboksky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower (bonus: it’s also a banned 0504_i-will-always-write-backbook; perfect for Banned Books Week reading); Attachments: A Novel by Rainbow Rowell; and Where Rainbows End (previously published as Rosie Dunne) by Cecelia Ahern. Now, I have a new title to add to the list: I Will Always Write Back by Martin Ganda and Caitlin Alifirenka.

I Will Always Write Back is the true story of two lives changed by a letter. Caitlin wrote to Martin as part of an English assignment, choosing Zimbabwe because she liked the name of the country. Her letter arrived with nine others, at a poor school with 50 students. Martin was lucky enough to receive one because he was the top student.

Caitlin and Martin had very little in common, but somehow they struck up a friendship that transcended their differences, eventually changing both of their lives. I Will Always Write Back is a great story of generosity, inner strength, and friendship. I could not put it down, finishing it in one afternoon.

I Will Always Write Back is cataloged as for ages 12 and up, but I see it as one of those books everyone should read, no matter if you are 15 or 50. It will make you smile, make you cry, and make you better for having experienced how truly amazing people can be.

Storytime Recap: Banned Books

by Morgan Reeves on September 30th, 2015

Today we visited a topic near and dear to every librarian’s heart: intellectual freedom. It’s banned books week so of course we had to read some banned and challenged books. We started storytime off as usual with our welcome song, “Clap Everybody and Say Hello.” I explained that challenging a book is an attempt by a person or group of people to have materials restricted or removed, while banning is actually removing those items from the collection. One boy summarized the concept as, “they don’t like those books.” I also talked briefly about how it is often parents or other adults challenging books in an attempt to protect children from difficult ideas and information, but that the library believes in intellectual freedom. We believe that only parents have the right and responsibility to restrict access to ideas to only their children and no one else. A bit of serious talk for storytime, but an important subject. I told everyone I would be reading some banned and challenged books and that they could guess the reasons for the challenge or ban after each story.

Then to get us in the mood for some stories, I led the room in a nursery rhyme.

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard,
To give the poor dog a bone;
When she came there,
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.

Poor puppy! After another repetition for those new to the rhyme, we moved on to our first story, Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray.

A lot of voices shouted out “because he farts” as the reason behind this challenge, which was pretty on target. This story in which a family learns to appreciate and love their especially flatulent dog was challenged for its use of the words “fart” and “farting” 24 times.

Read the rest of this entry »

Iowa City Public Library Celebrates Intellectual Freedom

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on September 14th, 2015

The Iowa City Public Library will celebrate the 2015 Carol Spaziani Intellectual Freedom Festival Sept. 23 through Sept. 30.

This annual celebration is named for former librarian Carol Spaziani in honor of her 26-year career at ICPL and for her life-long commitment to the freedom of ideas.This year’s lineup of events includes the following:

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 10:30 to 11 a.m. in the Storytime Room: Preschool Banned Books Storytime with Kathy

We will celebrate the American Library Association’s Banned Books week by reading banned or challenged books.

Thursday, Sept. 24, 7 to 9:30 p.m. in Meeting Room A: Film Screening – State Fair (1933)

Directed by Henry King, and starring Janet Gaynor, Will Rogers, Lew Ayres, this was the first film version of the 1932 novel State Fair by Philip Strong. Nominated for an Academy Award for best picture, this film would run afoul of the newly created Motion Picture Production Code the following year. Guest speaker Corey Creekmur, an Associate Professor in the University of Iowa’s Departments of English, and Cinema and Comparative Literature, will introduce the film and provide background behind the Motion Picture Code.

Saturday, Sept. 26, 10:30 to 11 a.m. in the Storytime Room: Preschool Banned Books Storytime with Casey

We will celebrate the American Library Association’s Banned Books week by reading banned or challenged books.

Tuesday, Sept. 29, noon to 1 p.m. in Meeting Room A: Poets on the Barricades – Voices of the Oppressed

Performed by of the Iowa City Johnson County Senior Center’s Reading Aloud group.

Wednesday, Sept. 30, 10:30 to 11 a.m. in the Storytime Room: Preschool Banned Books Storytime with Morgan

We will celebrate the American Library Association’s Banned Books week by reading banned or challenged books.

Wednesday, Sept. 30, 7 to 8:30 p.m. in Meeting Room A: One Community, One Book Book Discussion – Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Join us for a discussion of “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson, the 2015 One Community, One Book selection. The discussion will be led by the University of Iowa College of Law Associate Dean Emily Hughes, and Adrien Wing, Associate Dean for International and Comparative Law Programs at the University of Iowa and Director of the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights.

For more information about the Iowa City Public Library’s Carol Spaziani Intellectual Freedom Festival, visit, or call the Library at (319) 356-5200.

Iowa City Public Library Celebrates Banned Books Week

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on September 22nd, 2014

Celebrate the freedom to read during Banned Books Week.

The annual event was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, book stores, and libraries. Banned Books Week brings together all members of the book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers –- in support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas.

This year’s Banned Books Week celebration will be held September 21 through September 27.

According to the American Library Association, more than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982. There were 307 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2013. A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness.

The 10 most challenged titles of 2013 were:banned_books_week

  • Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
  • The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  • Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
    Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  • The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
  • A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
  • Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  • Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
    Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  • Bone (series), by Jeff Smith
    Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence

The Iowa City Public Library has Banned Books Week buttons for sale through September 27. They are available at the Help desk for $1 each. The Library also invites patrons to share photos of them reading banned books on twitter and Instagram, using the #caughtreadingatICPL hashtag.

Teens in grades seventh through 12th can celebrate Banned Books Week by participating in an online scavenger hunt about young adult books that are challenged and/or banned. Teens with the most correct answers will be entered into a drawing to win a Downtown District Gift Card. The scavenger hunt can be accessed at:

For more information about Banned Books Week, visit