In observance of the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week, Lafayette students, faculty, and staff took part in a literary flash mob in Skillman Library. They read passages aloud from 30 of the American Library Association’s top banned books including To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, Harry Potter, Beloved, Grapes of Wrath, and The Great Gatsby.
In conjunction with Judith’s Reading Room, a local nonprofit literacy organization, Kirby librarian Ana Ramirez Luhrs and Erin D’Amelio ’13 (Mount Bethel, Pa.), a double major in English and French, organized the event along with a number of related activities protesting the banning of books by schools, bookstores, and libraries across the country. Also part of the week, Alan Gribben, professor of English at Auburn University, will present “The Price of Fighting Censorship: Mark Twain Editions Today” 4:10 p.m. Thursday in the Gendebien Room of Skillman Library.
D’Amelio interned at Judith’s Reading Room over the summer where she assembled customized libraries that were donated to nursing homes, after-school programs, and women’s shelters. The nonprofit organization was started by Cathy and Scott Leiber to provide “freedom through literature” to underserved communities. In addition to Lafayette, Judith’s Reading Room, which received a competitive grant from the American Library Association, has partnered with Villanova University and University of Southern California to promote Banned Books Week.
Last year, there were 326 reported challenges of books, according to the Office of Intellectual Freedom, and many more go unreported. That’s in addition to the 11,300 books that have been challenged since 1982.