The Marriott Library is celebrating the annual American Library Association’s Banned Book Week with its second “Freedom to Read” open-mic event Wednesday.
Anyone on campus can come and read a piece of literature that has been challenged or banned from schools’ bookshelves for up to three minutes. Heidi Brett, spokesperson for the library, said the event is a way to celebrate and remind students of their intellectual freedom and threats to it.
“There are people in organizations everywhere in our society that, if they don’t feel comfortable with one certain idea or way of life or what have you, they want it to be censored,” Brett said. “I think it’s good for us all for us to remember that we do live in a free and open society.”
Alfred Mowdood, head of the research and information services, said it’s important to recognize banned and challenged books because of the value contained in what material is considered controversial.
“Freedom of thought is in the very DNA of the U,” Mowdood said.
Brett said participants don’t need to sign up — they just need to be present and let the organizers know they’d like to read. She said the library decided on an open-mic as opposed to a set reading by library employees as a way to directly involve students.
“We don’t want anyone to take for granted their intellectual freedoms, and we feel that libraries are and should be a place that there is no censorship,” Brett said.
As a college library, Brett said they don’t get as many requests to censor material as high schools and middle schools do, but they do still receive some pressure from visitors. In the last year, an anonymous patron asked that the facility remove an LGBT-themed book from the shelves and was refused.
Brett isn’t sure how many people will show up to this year’s events, but last time they had around 100 people read. All books — from children’s books, such as Captain Underpants, to classics, such as The Catcher in the Rye — are welcome. You can also come to just listen and not read at the event, which will go from 11 a.m to 1 p.m.
To see some of the more popular banned books, the library has copies covered in brown paper bags on the first and third floors.