Pacific University’s library is displaying a variety of commonly challenged books this week in honor of Banned Books Week. The display will be up until Oct. 3.
The library will also display resources on censorship and intellectual freedom.
Every year, the library participates in Banned Book Week, a national event founded by the American Library Association held annually during the last week of September.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, Banned Books Week began in an effort to raise awareness about the freedom of speech and the value of free expression.
Information provided by the ALA shows books are most commonly challenged because the material was considered “sexually explicit,” contained “offensive language,” or was “unsuited to any age group.”
A book is challenged when an individual or group attempts to restrict or remove access to a book. This not only means expressing a point of view about a specific work of literature, but is also the attempt to remove the material from a library or school curriculum, according to the ALA.
A book is banned if the challenged material is removed from the library or curriculum and becomes inaccessible.
Private groups and individuals, not the government, usually bring up book challenges and bans. If a work is banned, it is not illegal to read that work, it is just harder to access.
In recent years, most challenges to ban books have been unsuccessful largely due to groups arguing banning books violates the First Amendment.
Banned Book Week is sponsored by such organizations as the American Book Sellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society for Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers and the National Association for College Stores.
In 2011, Banned Book Week added more sponsors to the list including the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English and PEN American Center.