Banned Books with Librarian Justin Azevedo

Recognizing your freedom to read.
By Alexis Schreiber
September 26, 2019
It's Banned Books Week and we sat down with Justin Azevedo to learn more about it. Justin is a librarian and a youth material selector and chairs the Association for Library Service to Children’s Intellectual Freedom Committee.   

What is Banned Books Week?
Banned Books Week is an annual event that acknowledges the freedom to read by bringing awareness to issues of intellectual freedom and censorship in libraries and schools. Banned Books Week is about acknowledging that the freedom to read continues to be under attack, and celebrating libraries’ role in protecting and championing that freedom.
 Librarian Justin Azevedo
What is the difference between banned vs. challenged?
The word “banned” can be confusing. Many people see a Banned Books Week display and assume the library is banning those books. Most books on such lists and displays are actually there because they are often challenged. In other words, Banned Books Week highlights books that could potentially be banned from access, if such challenges were routinely successful.
Censorship vs. maintenance?
Censorship is the act of suppressing information that an authority finds unacceptable. In the context of libraries, removing a book from the shelf solely because someone (including a librarian) finds it controversial, offensive, or objectionable would be censorship. Banned Books Week is about highlighting such attempts at censorship.
How do we go about properly recognize the week?
Banned Books Week is not about reveling in making controversial content available. Well, it’s not only about that. Rather, it is about affirming and celebrating everybody’s constitutionally protected right to seek and express ideas. A good celebration involves thinking and having conversations about what makes a “good book” and why, what the differences are between the role of a parent or caregiver and that of a librarian or teacher, and where the line is between having an opinion or belief and infringing upon the rights of others.
Learn more about Banned Books Week and review this year’s list of challenged books