SLC Library displays controversial books during ‘Banned Books Week’

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Books challenged and banned by critics in some parts of the country are on display at the Salt Lake City Library.

From Sept. 27 to Oct. 3, the library will be participating in Banned Books Week, a national effort to highlight works of literature that have faced restrictions in public schools and libraries.

"It's easy to support popular beliefs and popular views and popular opinions. What's hard and what's challenging and what's uncomfortable is to promote those challenging views," said Tommy Hamby, adult services coordinator for the library.

Displayed under signs that read 'Banned,' books from Toni Morrison and F. Scott Fitzgerald are easily accessible to readers. Next to them, readers will find the reasons why they are so controversial.

Morrison's “Beloved” was criticized for sexually explicit material, while Fitzgerald's “The Great Gatsby” was challenged for language and sexual references.

"I think that when people challenge books there's a good intention. It's this idea of protecting people from those challenging ideas," explained Hamby. "But we don't become better by only listening to what we already agree with, or exposing ourselves to what we already agree with."

According to the American Library Association, there were more than 300 book challenges reported to the group's Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2014.

The ALA recorded a controversial challenge in Utah in 2012. After receiving a complaint from a parent, the Davis County School District restricted access to the picture book, “Our Mother's House.” The story depicted a lesbian couple raising a child. The district decided to remove the book from shelves and only allow students with a permission slip to read it.

"People need to be exposed to different ideas even if those are challenging ideas," said Derk Babbitt, who uses Salt Lake's main library branch regularly.

During Banned Books Week, the library will offer users a special deal if they check out the books. For every 10 minutes they read, the library will deduct $1 from any late fees they may have on record.

For more information on the event, visit bannedbooksweek.org

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