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Celebrate Banned Books Week with the library

Kick off Banned Books Week with a panel discussion on censorship and free lunch at the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library on Sept. 19.

The event, “Talking about Censorship: A Discussion About Banning Books in a Free and Open Society,” will be moderated by Rebekah Cummings, an associate librarian and the Digital Matters interim director at the library.

Libraries and schools across the nation are asked to remove books from their shelves on a regular basis. In 2021, the American Library Association documented more book-banning attempts than any previous year in the past 20 years. The Marriott Library panel discussion will explore why so many challenges are occurring, trends in library and school censorship, and what can be done to reduce this censorship.

“Book challenges are increasing in Utah and across the nation, prompting impassioned—and sometimes polarizing—discussions around intellectual freedom, the right to read and the value of diverse literature,” Cummings said. “While libraries have always welcomed dialogue with our patrons and challenges to our collections, the most recent challenges clearly target LGBTQ and BIPOC stories, many of which are penned by revered and award-winning authors.

Panel guests include the following:

  • Catherine Bates, teacher-librarian at Brighton High School
  • Lauren Liang, associate professor of educational psychology at the U
  • Richard Price, associate professor of political science and co-coordinator of queer studies at Weber State University
  • Katie Wegner, Salt Lake County Library assistant branch manager and Utah Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee co-chair

The event will be held from 12-1 p.m. in the ProtoSpace on the second floor of the library.