Faculty, students and staff from Oregon State University will read excerpts from challenged or banned books from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 26-28 in the brick mall in front of Strand Hall, in recognition of Banned Books Week.
The readings are free and open to the public. Strand Hall is located on the northeast side of the Memorial Union Quad. The weeklong event is hosted by OSU’s School of Writing, Literature and Film, in conjunction with the Valley Library.
“Banned Books Week is really about celebrating the freedom to read,” said Susan Rodgers, associate professor of creative writing and one of the event’s organizers. “Most challenged books remain available, and that’s because librarians, teachers and community members stand up to defend our access to those books.”
Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a surge in challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Goals of the initiative are education and advocacy about the problem of book censorship.
In 2015, the top 10 most challenged books included “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” by Mark Haddon, which are current favorites of college students. In the last decade, most frequently challenged authors include Toni Morrison, Sherman Alexie, Mark Twain and Judy Blume.
Rodgers worked with Valley Library staff member Zac Laugheed to create the campus event, which was designed for the Corvallis-area community. The organizers hope the event will continue and grow in future years.
“It’s a moving experience to stand in a public space, and read out loud from a book you love that has been banned or challenged,” Rodgers said. “It doesn’t even matter if people are there to listen. Just the act of reading the words is powerful.”