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Library observes Banned Book Week to highlight freedom of speech

What do the books “Harry Potter,” “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Huckleberry Finn” have in common?

They, at one time or another, were on a list of banned books in this various places in this country.

As such, officials at Pahrump Community Library want to celebrate the freedom to read as part of its annual Banned Book Week, which runs Sunday through Oct.1.

This year’s national theme is “Diversity.”

Assistant Director Mandy Cafeo said Pahrump’s library has been observing banned book week for more than eight years.

Cafeo is working on a display at the library in observance of the occasion, with a focus on protecting First Amendment Rights.

Books that have been challenged by individuals or groups will also be highlighted.

“I will display what we have on the top ten challenged books list,” she said. “There’s not so much effort in banning the books nowadays, but there are groups and individuals who challenge certain books.”

Cafeo noted the Pahrump Library has taken action to a challenge which occurred there several years ago.

The books that were challenged focused on teen sexuality on a clinical level.

“We had one challenge of some of the books in our youth library section,” she said. “The books were the young adult sexual maturity-type books and a few mothers actually took issue with them.”

As a result, Cafeo said the library reached a compromise with the mothers.

“I wouldn’t call it a formal challenge because it was just between us and those mothers,” she said. “We came to an agreement to put those books in a different section to where the librarians at the children’s desk can monitor who was viewing those books to make sure no one who was too young would pick them up.”

In regard to the Harry Potter series, Cafeo said, some people took issue with the subject of witches, which are prominent in J.K. Rowling books.

The fact that the “Little Red Riding Hood” character had a bottle of wine in her basket, was the reason for concern among some parents.

Cafeo noted that one of the most well-known books has come under challenge.

“One of the top ten challenged books this year is the Bible, due to religious viewpoints,” she said. “Many of the challenged books are of a religious nature or focus on the topic of the LGBT community. Some of them had to do with racial content.”

Cafeo also made it clear that though Pahrump’s library carries books that are on the banned book list, patrons are welcome to check them out.

She noted that the library normally sees a slight uptick in visitors each year at this time.

“We do see a surge with people checking out some of these challenged books,” she said. “I think it might be due to the fact that they are highlighted because we put a list out and put the books on display. It is left up to the individual libraries as to whether they decide to go with the challenge and remove the book, but we don’t. We haven’t seen any book bans in this country in a number of years. That sort of action happened decades ago.”

Pahrump Community Library’s Banned Book Week runs from September 25 through October 1.

For additional information call 775 727-5930.

The library is located at 701 East St.

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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