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Oregon Libraries: Celebrate Free Speech with a Banned Book

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October 5, 2007

Portland, OR – Libraries across Oregon are putting an interesting array of books on display this week, ranging from children's stories to classics. It's not unusual, except for the fact that all of these titles have been banned or faced challenges in schools and libraries for their content. Libraries are encouraging readers to walk on the wild side and crack open a "banned book" this week.

"Banned Books Week" displays include "To Kill a Mockingbird," "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," and "Little House in the Big Woods," all of which have been high on the lists of controversial titles. David Fidanque with the ACLU of Oregon says restricting books limits free speech and leads to censorship.

"We trust people to make decisions on their own about what materials they or their families read, see and hear in the privacy of their own homes. I think most Oregonians want to be able to decide for themselves."

Fidanque adds people are often surprised to learn that the book that's been challenged most often -- is the Bible.

"People challenge works of literature for all kinds of reasons. It should be up to individual readers to decide what they have access to, rather than having the government or librarians make those decisions."

In Oregon every year, nearly 20 books face challenges in order to remain on library shelves. A new online database at www.aclu-or.org, sponsored by the ACLU of Oregonand the Oregon Library Association details the books and materials challenged in Oregon libraries since 1979.

Dondrea Warner/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - OR