Literary experts discuss reasons for banning books

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A panel of librarians and professors met in Hale Library’s Hemisphere Room on Wednesday to discuss censorship and the banning of books as a part of the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week. The week’s events are sponsored by Sigma Tau Delta, K-State Libraries and the department of English.

The panel included Daniel Ireton, undergraduate and community services librarian at Hale Library; Lucas Loughmiller, central library services coordinator for USD 383; Philip Nel, professor of English; Joe Sutliff-Sanders, assistant professor of English; and Susan Withee librarian at the Manhattan Public Library.

Ireton said the major reasons the books are banned are because of racism, language, violence, homosexuality and inappropriateness to age groups.

“People looking to ban books are usually misinformed,” Loughmiller said. “[They want to have] a level of control they wouldn’t usually have.”

Regardless of the banning of books, Withee said that in today’s world, people can often get a hold of books via the Internet, but it is important for books to remain available in libraries that are free to the public.

Nel noted that banning books limits access of these books to the poor, who may not be able to read them if they are unavailable in a library. He also said it can have an upside.

“[It is] a gift to the author and publisher,” Nel said. “It creates interest.”

Ireton agreed that if a book is banned, more people will want to read it. He said that banning a book from a public library doesn’t ban it forever; it just places hurdles for the reader to overcome.

“People are going to find a way [to read the book],” Loughmiller said. “All they’ve done is elevate the book to make it more desirable.”

Nel said books are often banned in schools because the people banning the books are trying to maintain childhood innocence, but this act is ineffective.

“I encourage parents to read the book — read it with their children,” Nel said.

Loughmiller explained that in his time as a librarian, the people trying to ban a book were usually misinformed. The situation in which someone challenged a book always ended up being defused by a librarian, he said.

“There are no classes that teach the role of a modern librarian,” Loughmiller said. “Librarians are so much more than storytellers.”

However, if people are set on having books removed from libraries there are ways to get them removed without being banned.

“A frequent tactic is stealing books,” Withee said. “People are trying to control information.”

Banned Books week continues with readings in Bosco Student Plaza at noon today and Friday.

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