SOUTH SIOUX CITY — The South Sioux City Public Library may look like a crime scene this coming week, but there’s nothing criminal about it.
The South Sioux City Public Library is participating in “Banned Books Week” and to recognize the 40-year-old awareness campaign, it is setting up a caution and danger tape to block its collections of books, movies and music, according to a press release.
“By ensuring that all materials are cordoned off as a precaution and with a danger tape, we have had the experience of having our materials censored or made difficult to obtain. We urge readers to move beyond the caution tape. on guard and make their choice,” said the Deputy Director of the South. The Sioux City Public Library, Dan Nieman said.
He then added “When we look at the titles of books that have been challenged. It’s easy to say yes, this book should be challenged, but when we think about challenging a book, we have to remember that someone else may want to challenge your favorite book or author.”
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This year’s theme is “Books Unite Us, Censorship Divides Us,” according to the statement.
The Banned Books Week website, forbiddenbooksweek.orgexplains the tradition started in 1982 “in response to a sudden increase in the number of book disputes in schools, bookstores and libraries”.
At the time, some of the most contested books included “The Catcher in the Rye”, “The Grapes of Wrath”, and “Our Bodies, Ourselves for the New Century” (a women’s health reference).
In the following decade, according to the American Library Associationthe three most contested books were Alvin Schwartz’s “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” (an anthology of horror tales aimed at children), “Daddy’s Roommate” by Michael Willhoite (a children’s book about the divorced father of ‘a young boy finding a male partner) and Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” (an autobiography partly centered on childhood trauma and racism).
For 2021, the three most contested books all dealt with LGBTQIA+ themes and content about sexuality: “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe, “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison and “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson . The oldest book on the 2021 Top 10 list is Toni Morrison’s 1970 work “The Bluest Eye,” which includes depictions of child sexual abuse.
The statement from the South Sioux City Public Library says ‘Banned Books Week’ is usually held the last week of September and ‘brings together the entire book community – librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers and readers of all types. – in shared support for the freedom to seek out and express ideas, even those that some consider unorthodox or unpopular.”
Jared McNett is an online editor and reporter for the Sioux City Journal. You can reach him at 712-293-4234 and follow him on Twitter @TwoHeadedBoy98.