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CT Libraries Observe Banned Books Week


Friday, September 23, 2022   

As "Banned Books Week" comes to a close, Connecticut libraries have been celebrating with great fervor - despite numerous book bans and challenges, here and across the country.

According to the American Library Association, this year 1,651 books have been targets of attempted bans, mostly by conservative groups or parents who want to restrict kids' access to some topics. They're mostly titles with themes of gender identity, LGBTQ content, or race and racism.

Connecticut isn't immune to these challenges, said Sam Lee, who chairs the Intellectual Freedom Committee for the Connecticut Library Association.

"The big title that we've been seeing challenged is 'Gender Queer' by Maia Kobabe," she said. "It is a graphic novel memoir about e/eir's experience identifying as agender, transgender and that experience."

So far this year, Lee said, there have been about 30 reported book challenges in the state - and there could be others, as they're not always reported to the Library Association. But to keep limitations on literature from becoming the norm, Lee advised everyone to stop by the library to read a book.

Book challenges don't always end with banning a certain title, and there are other ways the Connecticut Library Association ensures that books remain on shelves. Lee said one way this occurs is through librarians, who are trained to provide their patrons access to all types of literature. And there's a particular state law in place that applies to all Connecticut libraries.

"In Connecticut, we have a confidentiality statute covering library records," Lee said, "and that confidentiality statute protects their privacy, and enables them to read freely, and read widely and read privately, without government intrusion."

Lee described the recent book bans as "depressing" - a way to impose control by limiting people's freedoms. She feels restricting reading can even damage the health of a democracy.

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