Lied Library holding event for Banned Books Week

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Graphic by Kayla Roberts.

Lied Library will host the Censorship Cafe on Oct. 4 in conjunction with Banned Books Week, which runs from Oct. 1-7. From 1:30-3:30 p.m. in the Goldfield Room, students can learn about the Banned Books Week initiative and this year’s theme: “Let Freedom Read.”

UNLV’s on-campus libraries are coming together to raise awareness about book bans and other forms censorship takes in our country. Students attending the Censorship Cafe will have the opportunity to check-out titles in the Banned Book Buffet and express themselves at the Black-out Poetry station.

The University Libraries are also asking students to voice their own opinions about which banned books they believe are important to them. In a survey sent out last week, they ask students to weigh-in on banned books such as “Looking for Alaska,” “Perks of Being a Wallflower” and “Thirteen Reasons Why.”

Banned Book Week was founded in 1982 to combat the surge in challenges to books in schools and libraries across the country. According to their website, the event is held to highlight “the value of free and open access to information” and to support “the freedom to seek and to express ideas.” 

According to PEN America, a total of 1,557 unique titles were banned during the 2022-2023 school year, a 33% increase from last year. 674 of these titles were banned due to “LGBTQIA+ content,” including seven of the top 13 most banned titles. 

“It’s pretty concerning,” said student Janriek Bognot. “I guess I just thought it [banning books] was a thing of the past, but to think that not only is it still happening, but it’s on the rise? I thought we were past that.”

“It’s especially scary that so many of the books are being banned for gay content,” another student remarked, requesting to remain anonymous. “I’ve struggled with fully expressing myself for a while, and it sucks knowing that the stigma is still there, at least for some people.”

Along with LGBTQIA+ content, books containing protagonists of color (659 titles) and books dealing with race or racism (338 titles) were also being banned disproportionately. 

To learn more about censorship in America, how it manifests and who is most affected by it, come by Lied Library for information throughout Banned Books Week, and visit the Censorship Cafe on Wednesday.

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