Springfield-Greene County Libraries confronts banned book controversy

Henry Novack, Reporter
October 11, 2011
Filed under News

Sarah Ockler's book "Twenty Boy Summer" has faced being banned in school libraries around the country. The author recently visited Springfield to discuss the problem of censorship of literature.

Imagine if the Harry Potter series was banned in your school library.  Librarians all around the country are working to ensure that never happens.  Springfield Greene County Libraries hosted “banned book week” last week to air the debate of what books are appropriate and non-appropriate for high school students.

Banned Book Week is a national observance by libraries and other organizations to celebrate the freedom to access information, while drawing attention to the harms of censorship.

The Springfield Greene County Library applied for, and received a federal grant that will pay for authors to come to Springfield and talk about their books and express how they feel about the bans.

This grant recognizes authors Sarah Ockler, “Twenty Boy Summer”; Dr. William Allen; “ Conversations with Kurt Vonnegut”; and Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five”.

Republic School District chose to ban both “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “Twenty Boy Summer”, stirring up much controversy among people in Greene County. After much recent debate, the two books were “unbanned” from the school library, along with many other books, under one condition: Only the students’ parents may personally check out these “restricted” books in the school library for their son or daughter.

“I don’t think anything should be banned,” says Peggy Hanes, librarian at the Midtown Carnegie Branch Library. “People should be able to read anything they wish. However, not all books are appropriate for children. It is a person’s choice on whether or not they read something.”

Sarah Ockler was invited to discuss her book and express how she feels about her book being banned. Ockler was the featured speaker on Friday, Sept. 30 and featured reader on Oct. 1 in two segments of the library’s “Read-Out” discussion series.

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