Today marks the start of Banned Books Week, a yearly awareness campaign promoting and celebrating our freedom to read. You may have noticed some of our displays here at Central Library — we have some frequently challenged fiction books behind the checkout desk, a nonfiction shelf downstairs on the basement level, as well as a display in the YA area.
Our local area is also no stranger to challenged or banned books. A few years ago, the Albemarle County school board received complaints regarding an anti-Mormon bias in Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Study in Scarlet.” The book was removed from the 6th grade curriculum and made national news. Read the full report on the decision here.
Central’s Brown Baggers book group read the novella for their September meeting, keeping in their tradition of reading a banned or challenged book at this time of year. Group members enjoyed reading this first appearance of Sherlock Holmes — some were only familiar with the character through general pop culture saturation and hadn’t read any of the actual stories — but were mystified by the board’s decision to remove the title from the school curriculum.
Want to find out more about Banned Books Week in general? Check out their official website and learn from the American Library Association which books are frequently targeted for censorship.
The best way to celebrate your right to read this week? Check out a banned book! Search the JMRL catalog for titles or read “A Study in Scarlet” and judge for yourself. The Sherlock Holmes tale is also available for free online through Project Gutenberg.