USM Library celebrates Banned Books Week

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Banned Books Week is celebrated around the nation to the delight of all readers.

"Banned Books Week was started in the early 1980s to promote First Amendment rights regarding access to information and the right to read and to form thought," said Jennifer Brannock, curator at the University Libraries at the University of Southern Mississippi.

In 1982, after nine books were removed from school libraries, the Supreme Court ruled that this form of censorship was unconstitutional. Banned Books Week was born and has been celebrated during the last week of September ever since.

Books are still challenged every year. Formal challenges are issued to libraries and school by people who deem them inappropriate. Over 300 books were challenged in 2013. If the challenge is acknowledged, the book can potentially be banned at that particular library or school district.

Popular fiction series like the "Hunger Games," "Twilight," and "Harry Potter" have been repeatedly challenged. Classics like "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Of Mice and Men" are also on the list. Some may be surprised to find that the Bible is also a banned book.

To raise awareness for the freedom to read, USM is hosting an event Thursday in the Cook Library on campus from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Students, faculty, and administration will read 15 minute segments from banned books.

"Everything from 'Captain Underpants' to '50 Shades of Grey'," said Brannock.

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