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Cape library notes national event with display about banned books

By Staff | Sep 29, 2009

In recognition of this year’s Banned Books Week, a national event celebrating the freedom to read, the Cape Coral-Lee County Public Library has assembled a display of controversial books.
Banned Books Week, launched in 1982 to address a growing number of complaints over books, runs until Friday.
The library, a branch of the Lee County Library System, is part of the American Library Association. When a reader wants to complain about a book in the library system, they file a report with the ALA and it is subsequently investigated.
In 2008, the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom received 513 complaints from communities across the United States and later developed a list of the most challenged titles: “And The Tango Makes Three,” “His Dark Materials,” “Scary Stories,” “Bless Me,” “Gossip Girl,” “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding” and others.
Yet, according to organizers of Banned Books Week, 70 percent to 80 percent of complaints go unreported.
Terri Crawford, spokesperson for the Lee County Library System, said no official programs are planned for Banned Books Week, but libraries have displays recognizing the celebration.
“We let people know it is their right to read and not to take it for granted,” she said.
The Lee County Library System has received complaints about certain titles over the years, not unlike other systems across the county, Crawford said.
“We have had a few over the years, but nothing significant that went beyond a simple request to have it removed,” she said.
Even with the occasional complaint to the ALA, nothing has been banned in the county.
“We’ve had no books banned in Lee County,” Crawford said. “There have been some questioned, but nothing has been removed from our shelves.”
The display at the Cape library is geared toward teens, said youth services librarian Katie Bartholomew.
The colorful display includes “Gossip Girl,” “Kite Runner,” “Tango Makes Three,” “Bless Me Ultima,” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “Uncle Bob’s Wedding” and “Flashcards of My Life.”
Most of the books have received complaints over sexual content, explicit language, violence, themes of homosexuality and anti-religious tones.
Some books have been challenged in Southwest Florida, such as “The Amazing Bone,” a novel by William Steig. It was challenged in 2008 at Sunshine Elementary School in Lehigh Acres after a parent objected to a scene where the main character is robbed by armed thieves.
Parents farther north in Armwood High School and Turner Elementary School in the Tampa Bay area complained in 2008 because of sexual themes in one book and racial language in another. One of the books, “The Land by Mildred Taylor,” won a Newbury Medal.
For more information, visit: bannedbooksweek.org.