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HomeNewsFreedom to Read Week in full swing at the Smithers Library

Freedom to Read Week in full swing at the Smithers Library

Banned and challenged books are front and centre this week at the Smithers Public Library to celebrate Freedom to Read Week.

Every year, libraries across Canada participate in the week to help showcase why it’s important to keep a wide range of perspectives on information without censorship.

According to Library Director Wendy Wright, this freedom of information is also engrained into the library’s core values.

“What that means is providing access to anything that anyone wants to read.”

She added there’s various reasons people might want to read something from hearing a book is good and wanting to make their own judgement to wondering why people might not like a book.

“In the last couple of years, organized groups started circulating lists with dozens and sometimes hundreds of books, calling on their members to fill out forms and to sign petitions demanding the removal of these enormous lists of books,” said Wright.

In 2023, the library received four challenges with one of them being a list of 62 SOGI 123 books.

“They didn’t bother to check whether we had any of the books. We had about a third of them,” she said.

Across the country, the number of book challenges between 2021 and 2022 went up 62 per cent compared to the yearly average between 2015 and 2021.

A large portion of that increase was to books covering sexuality, gender, and substance abuse.

Popular books that have been challenged or continue to be challenged include the Harry Potter series, To Kill a Mockingbird, and War and Peace, which are in the library’s catalogue and on display this week.

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