Maag Library brings awareness to censorship and banned books

Maag Library highlights commonly banned books. Photo by Viktoria Paliakovich / The Jambar

By Jessica Stamp

Youngstown State University’s Maag Library is bringing awareness on banned books and censorship from Sept. 19-23 with Banned Books Week. 

According to the American Library Association, a ban or challenge is the removal of that material or an attempt to remove or restrict materials based upon the objections of a person or group. 

“In Oklahoma, a bill introduced in the State Senate that would prohibit public school libraries from keeping books on hand that focus on sexual activity, sexual identity or gender identity,” an article by the New York Times said.   

PEN America stated on its website, “state legislators are introducing — and in some cases passing — educational gag orders to censor teachers, proposals to track and monitor teachers, and mechanisms to facilitate book banning in school districts,” 

The library will display some of the most commonly banned books of this year while also having events like guessing the banned book, located on the main floor. 

To challenge students on their knowledge, banned-book bingo cards will be available to see how many banned books students have read. The banned-book bingo cards are located at the front desk and students who get a bingo can enter their name into a drawing to win a prize. 

Colleen Duchon, reference librarian for health and human services, wants students to be aware of what is happening to censored books and its effect on libraries. 

“It’s just to bring to light the aspect of censorship and libraries and making sure that people are aware of the challenges and essentially trying to take away collection in … any library that’s out there,” Duchon said. “There has been a large increase in banned books challenges that are going on nationally.” 

Duchon said it is important to support libraries so they can continue to share stories and ideas  people can benefit from. 

“Everybody has a story and everybody should be able to read that story and to see themselves in the world,” Duchon said. “You take that away, you’re not taking away that person, you’re just taking away their validity and you’re taking away their feeling of being present in literature.” 

Duchon said she likes to describe banned books by comparing them to a restaurant and if there is an item on the menu an individual doesn’t like, that individual can’t tell the restaurant not to serve it anymore. The individual can either not go to that particular restaurant anymore or choose a different item on the menu. 

“You can’t completely take away what other people want just because you don’t like it. It’s not your responsibility to control a collection for the rest of the community just because you feel like it’s inappropriate,” Duchon said.

Duchon said she encourages students to get involved with their library and to let those in the community know the library is constantly promoting freedom of information.