July 10, 2001 (12)


Banned in Boston and elsewhere

EDITORS: Photo available on request.

ANN ARBOR---What do the Harry Potter book series, "Gone with the Wind," and "The Merchant of Venice" have in common?

They all have interesting characters and entertaining plots, and they are all books that have been banned or challenged at one point in time. They are also part of a new exhibit at the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library at the University of Michigan.

Poster from the "Banned Books and the Freedom to Read" exhibit
"Banned Books and the Freedom to Read" is the title of an exhibit that includes books that have been banned or challenged for social, religious, sexual or political reasons throughout history. The exhibit is organized in themed cases by category, including a special case of books banned or challenged in the state of Michigan.

One case presents a "keyhole" display that allows a sneak peek into books deemed as "dangerous." As visitors look through the keyholes of this display, they can see the books, the names of the authors, those responsible for banning the books and the reasons they were banned.

Marna M. Clowney and Lynne N. Gunderman, information resources supervisors, and Laura E. Nottley, information resources assistant, at the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library developed the exhibit after learning that the Harry Potter books had been banned in some places. "Once we learned that Harry Potter had been banned, we decided that banned books would be our theme," said Clowney. "Because we deal so closely with books, journals, and other information resources on a daily basis, we agree with the American Libraries Association that as American citizens we have the right to read what we want to read."

Regardless of what books or material various communities or organizations deem "unfit" or "ban," the American Libraries Association (ALA), to which U-M's University Library belongs, gives their interpretation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as "the free expression of ideas as embodied in the First Amendment is a basic human right. As American citizens, we have the right to read what we want to read, hear what we want to hear, watch what we want to watch and think what we want to think. Intellectual freedom is the right to seek and receive information from all points of view, without restriction, even those ideas which might be highly controversial or offensive to others."

This and other information about banned and challenged books can be found at the Association's Web site, http://www.ala.org, where answers can be found to "Why are Books Challenged?" "Who Challenges Books?" "What's the Difference Between a Challenge and a Banning?" and what are the most frequently challenged books of 2000 and the most challenged authors of that year.

The exhibit at the U-M Library will continue through September encompassing the ALA's Banned Books Week, Sept. 22-29, 2001.

The exhibit is displayed in the lobby on the first floor of the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library North, from now through September (except for Labor Day, Sept. 3, 2001, when the Library is closed). The Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library is open —
8 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday
8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday
2 p.m. to midnight Sunday.
The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Contact: Joanne Nesbit
Phone: (734) 647-4418
E-mail: mjnesbit@umich.edu