The first week of October is Banned Books Week and the South Hadley Public Library is planning two events to celebrate the freedom to read. Reading is a foundational skill, critical to future learning and to exercising our democratic freedoms. Intellectual freedom is the right of library users to read, seek information, and speak freely as guaranteed by the First Amendment. Today, this freedom to read is threatened by organized movements seeking to bring national culture wars to local library and bookstore shelves.
On Tuesday, October 3, from 4:00 to 6:00, SHPL will be taking part in a state-wide Let Freedom Read “read in” where residents and readers can come to the library for an enjoyable afternoon of reading whatever book they want to. The event will be moved inside the Children’s Room, if necessary, due to weather. Light snacks will be provided by the Friends of the South Hadley Public Library.
On Saturday, October 7, from 10:00 to 11:30, the library will be taking part in a Banned Books Brunch being held at Center Church as part of the Showcase South Hadley cultural festival. This panel discussion will feature local speakers an independent bookstore and academic, public, and school libraries. Light refreshments will be provided.
According to the American Library Association, there were 45 book challenges in Massachusetts in 2022 affecting 57 titles. That’s more than the past 9 years (2013-2021) combined which totaled 38 challenges. Nationwide, ALA reported 1,270 book challenges in 2022, up significantly from 350 in 2019.