The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday June 3rd

Poll: Book-banning gets approval boost

And as preparations begin for the nationwide Banned Books Week, which starts Sept. 27, criticism of what many consider classics continues to be an issue.

“I think people have really strong beliefs, and I don’t mean just religiously — I mean a really strong world view,” Chapel Hill Public Library readers' services coordinator Susan Maguire said.

“When something comes outside of that worldview they panic, and there are always people who will challenge a differing opinion. It’s often expressed as we’re protecting our kids, but the argument has been made that protecting your kids from violence in a book, when they can watch the news or play video games, is bananas.”

In a Harris poll released in July, 28 percent of participants said they believed there were books that should be banned completely — a 10-point increase from respondents who answered the question four years ago.

Maguire said though the poll is interesting, she questions the generalities in its questioning. Currently, no books are banned from the Chapel Hill library, she said.

Brian Sturm, associate professor in the UNC School of Information and Library Science, echoed Maguire's skepticism.

Sturm said that rather than encouraging students to confront those who wish to ban books, he urges them to congratulate fellow readers on feeling passionate about the material they are reading.

“We see the starvation in Africa and we shrug, we see the people getting bombed in the Middle East and we shrug and it just doesn’t effect us,” Sturm said. “When a person actually takes the time to say, ‘This bothers me that you’re providing this kind of material,’ I say to my students, ‘Congratulate them on the fact that they care enough to come in and talk to you.”

He said it’s the job of a librarian to challenge readers.

“The professional’s job is to create a variety of books that will move the community forward,” he said. “It’s going to challenge people in the community to think differently. That’s what growth is all about and what libraries are all about, in my opinion.”

Aside from their opinions about banning books, Maguire and Sturm both narrowed down their favorite book to William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” — a title that is regularly challenged.

UNC junior Tamara Jackson, whose favorite author Judy Blume is often criticized for a sexualized writing style, said parents will often try to ban books to protect their children, but questioned if they would rather have their children learn things in school or on the street.

Her friend and fellow UNC junior Rodnei Crutchfield agreed, saying it is our First Amendment right to read certain texts.

“People need to learn to be uncomfortable,” he said.



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