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Banned Books Week - October 1-7: Let Freedom Read

by Erin Moore on 2023-10-06T04:12:00-07:00 in Diversity & Equity, Education | 0 Comments

As a medical librarian with a background in both public and academic libraries, I cannot fathom allowing Banned Books week (Oct 1-7) to slip by unnoticed. It's expected that Banned Books week would constitute a super-event in public and academic libraries. After all: over half of book bans occur in public libraries. Libraries and librarians themselves are vulnerable to legislation proposals that create possible penalties for providing access to the ideas contained in books (in the case of Arkansas, this proposal was "temporarily blocked".) The wider implications of book banning is playing out at state and national levels and goes far beyond the walls of the public library.

But how can we honor Banned Books Week in hospital or health sciences libraries? Certainly, there is documentation on medical-themed texts that have been the subject of bans or challenges. However, Censorship and Intellectual Freedom are truly at the core of the larger discussion in which the Medical Library Association (MLA) is a participant.

MLA's Censorship & Library Practices Toolkit

Indeed, the MLA has developed a toolkit to proactively address issues of censorship. This toolkit provides information on tracking censorship legislation, issues related to privacy & intellectual freedom, resources related to sexual & reproductive health, lgbtqia+ health info, state-specific resources, library policy best practices, and more.  The purpose and scope of the toolkit:

"A core value of librarianship is to provide accessible and trustworthy health information. However, institutional policies and regional and national laws often place limits on what information can be shared with library users. Navigating this conflict between our professional values and external rules can be a complex and difficult endeavor. The purpose of this toolkit is to provide resources that can assist health sciences librarians in establishing policies, procedures, and information resources that can help to minimize these potential conflicts and provide a solid basis for dealing with them when they arise.

I will definitely be making use of the linked state-specific resources to keep on top of legislation. Please take a moment to learn more about banned and challenged books and consider your thoughts on these complex issues. How do you see issues of privacy, censorship, and intellectual freedom and curiosity unfolding in the health care world?

This Saturday, October 7th, is known as "Let Freedom Read" day. Learn how you may take action and combat censorship to support teachers, librarians, educators and readers. 


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