Book banning and censorship locally, explained

Published: Nov. 9, 2021 at 7:31 PM EST
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - During the Virginia gubernatorial race, censorship and book banning became a popular topic, with some school boards raising questions about the content of some material.

As a result, many were asking questions about what the process is when a book is questioned.

Dr. Jennifer Brown, Augusta County Library’s Director, said sometimes people will bring a book to the staff’s attention when they disagree with the content.

“People come to the library to pull books from our collection primarily because if they object to the content, then they think that it’s harmful for other people as well,” Brown said.

She said those objections often center around content: sexual instances or ideology.

When a person brings a concern to their attention, they form a committee to review the content. In the end, Brown said they usually choose the leave the book on the shelf.

“Most libraries don’t decide to pull the book because we believe that libraries should have all kinds of books and ideologies in their collections,” Brown said.

She said most libraries often operate under two principles: intellectual freedom and the freedom to read. She said each person should decide what they want to read, not have that choice taken away by a library.

“By pulling books from our collection what we’re really taking away is the freedom to choose and for individuals to make those choices for themselves,” Brown said.

For children’s books, she said it’s up to the parents to make that choice. She said books help people understand each other.

“By providing materials that have a diverse array of experiences, especially in our nonfiction collection and our autobiographies, what we’re really doing is we’re creating a window into those experiences. People can explore those experiences and identities and diversity in a safe way,” Brown said.

She said The Hate U Give, Harry Potter, and To Kill a Mockingbird are books often brought up for review.

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