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This year’s Banned Books Week, the annual celebration of the freedom to read, will run September 24-30. The focus will be on the the importance of the First Amendment, which guarantees our right to read.

The celebration of Banned Books Week in libraries can raise some questions. Do libraries like to ban books?  What exactly are banned or challenged books? Who is doing the banning or challenging?

Challenging a book means arguing that it should be removed from library shelves because the person making the case (the challenger) doesn’t want other people to read it. If a challenge is successful, and the book is removed from circulation, then it is said to have been “banned.”  The American Library Association stands up for everyone’s right to read whatever they want, or choose not to read what they don’t want, with the understanding that parents make reading decisions on behalf of their children.

Even though Fontana Regional Library has not seen any books challenged or banned in Macon, Jackson, or Swain Counties recently, many popular and culturally important books have been banned in various communities over the years -- from Harry Potter to the Bible -- and it still happens today.

Celebrating Banned Books Week is a way to learn about those books and the controversies surrounding them. To do this, libraries in Macon, Jackson, and Swain Counties have created displays of books that have been challenged or banned in other communities across the country. The goal is for readers in Western North Carolina to celebrate their right to read those books and any others that they choose.

National sponsors of Banned Books Week include: American Booksellers AssociationAmerican Library Association; American Society of Journalists and Authors; Association of American Publishers; American Association of University PressesAuthors Guild; Comic Book Legal Defense Fund; Dramatists Legal Defense Fund; Freedom to Read FoundationIndex on Censorship; National Coalition Against Censorship; National Council of Teachers of English; PEN AmericaPeople for the American Way Foundation; and Project Censored.  It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.