Books Unite Us, Censorship Divides Us.

A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.” - Jo Godwin*

Though provocative, I embrace this quote from librarian Jo Godwin, who knew libraries have a solemn responsibility to serve their whole populations through the provision of diverse resources, even if it ruffles some feathers.

I like to turn Godwin’s convention on its head and demonstrate how great the Williamston branch is because of the items we offer that affirm and support all people. One way we do that is by celebrating Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held the last week of September, it spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools.

In 2020, the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom tracked 156 challenges to materials and services in 2020.

Of the 273 titles that were targeted, here are the most challenged:

1.    Melissa's Story (formerly George) by Alex Gino - Read the author's statement on the name change here.

2.    Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds

3.    All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

4.    Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

5.    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

6.    Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin

7.    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

8.    Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

9.    The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

10.  The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

For more information on why these books were challenged, visit ALA's website here.

*[Mary] Jo Godwin was an editor of the Wilson Library Bulletin, a professional American magazine published for librarians from 1914-1995.

Julie C., Head Librarian of CADL Williamston