Mitchell Memorial Library's latest exhibit results from a cross-campus collaboration between the MSU Libraries Education Librarian Rachel Cannady and Dr. Kathleen Alley in the Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education Department. Dr. Alley's class, Teaching Children's Literature at Elementary and Middle Levels, discussed intellectual freedom and how to handle challenged books in a classroom and then created posters on the subject that will hang in Mitchell Memorial Library's 3rd floor Atrium during Banned Books Week.
"Encouraging children to read widely and deeply and to talk about what they read, develops thinking and helps children better understand themselves and others in their world," said Alley. "There is nothing to fear in books - instead we should be more afraid of what happens when ideas are not discussed. Lyndon Johnson said, 'Books and ideas are the most effective weapons against intolerance and ignorance.'"
"Reading books, talking about books, we learn about viewpoints like our own and viewpoints different from our own," said Dr. Devon Brenner, Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education Department Head. "Books teach us to think. So it is important to be able to think about all the ideas--even the ones that make us uncomfortable."
In addition to the class's posters, there will be an exhibit of banned books that MSU Libraries owns. The books displayed can be readily browsed and checked out. Information about why the books were banned or challenged is also provided. "We wanted the display to be as interactive as possible," said Cannady, "so people can be informed and make their own decisions."
The American Library Association (ALA) has been celebrating Banned Books Week since 1982. Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community – librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types – in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.
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