Libraries nationwide will highlight America’s rich literary history this week by exhibiting novels that have been banned over the years.
In homage to the American Library Association’s annual Banned Books Week, UCSB’s library will be spotlighting books ranging from Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird to Stephanie Meyer’s best-selling Twilight series. The event provides students with the opportunity to study ideas and literary topics that have been repressed through history.
Aside from drawing attention to the practice of banning books, Jane Faulkner, Davidson’s librarian for the English and French collections, said UCSB’s nod to the ALA also reveals the appeal of forbidden fruit.
“[For the display in the library lobby] we actually had 25 or 30 copies of banned books,” Faulkner said. “Delightfully, half of the books that we had originally put on display are now [checked out]. Ironically, once a book has been banned, it flies off the shelf.”
Although ALA has hosted the event in years past, this is the first time that UCSB’s library has chosen to present an exhibition in honor of the week.
According to Janet Martorana, Collections Outreach chair — the committee that compiled the display — the exhibition allows the student body to appreciate the importance of banned books.
“I want students to read those banned books,” Martorana said. “It’s important to hear thoughts that one doesn’t necessarily agree with because it shows the bigger picture.”
Additionally, Martorana said the books, ranging from contemporary banned books to infamous classics, were all chosen to reiterate the importance of being open minded at a liberal college.
“These are important thoughts not just in a democracy or society, but certainly on a university campus and in a free open library,” Martorana said.
The exhibition also presents surprising statistics about the types of books that are normally banned and the reason for their censorship.
“It’s always striking to learn why a book has been banned,” Faulkner said. “[For example,] Twilight has been banned for ‘religious viewpoint.’”
Breanna Smith, a fourth-year English major, said ALA’s Banned Books Week is fundamental to the preservation of intellectual freedom.
“I think that it’s important to highlight that books are being banned, because much of the time people are not aware that it’s being done,” Smith said. “We assume in today’s society that we can do or watch whatever we want, but it’s important to demonstrate that there is still censorship going on in America.”