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Orange County Focus

COUNTYWIDE : Banned Books Get Libraries' Attention

September 28, 1992|MARESA ARCHER

Three branches of the Orange County Library will commemorate national Banned Books Week with displays and readings of banned books.

The annual event is held to alert the public to the ongoing problem of book banning, which organizers contend is a violation of the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech.

"People seem to think book banning is something that happened in the '50s and '60s. But we've seen no decline in the attempt to ban books," said Patricia Glass Schuman, board member of the American Library Assn. in Chicago.

Libraries throughout the country will display books that have been banned or are the targets of ban attempts.

In Orange County, county library branches in Mission Viejo, San Clemente, and the Mary Wilson branch in Seal Beach are participating.

Each will have a complete list of banned books, as well as a display of the titles the libraries carry that are banned elsewhere.

The displays will be up through Oct. 3, but they may stay up longer, according to Helen Lotos, community relations manager for the library system.

"The branch librarians said the displays are always well received, and so they may just keep them up until it's time for some other scheduled display," Lotos said.

J.D. Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye" has the distinction of receiving the most attempts at being banned, with most critics objecting to profane language in the book, according to officials of the library association.

But seemingly innocuous books, such as "Little Red Riding Hood," are also targets.

"Some parents' organizations in Culver City and Imperial (County) said it was too violent," Glass Schuman said.

"There is nothing wrong with parents deciding what their children should read, but they don't have a right to decide what someone else's child can read," she said.

Of the 500 attempted book bans in 1991, only about 10% were actually removed from library shelves and classroom curricula.

But Schuman cautioned that the figure is probably low, because not all instances of bans are reported to the association.

"That figure also doesn't take into account the intimidation factor," she said.

"Once a group or individual starts harassing a local library or school board, potentially controversial books are not bought to avoid trouble."

Banned Books

The following is a partial list of books banned or challenged from March, 1991, to March, 1992, and the rationale given for the bans or challenges:

J.D. Salinger, "Catcher in the Rye," challenged at the Grayslake, Ill., Community High School because of obscene language.

John Steinbeck, "East of Eden" and "The Grapes of Wrath," challenged in the Greenville County, S.C., schools because the books use the names God and Jesus in a vain and profane manner and contain inappropriate sexual references.

Mark Twain, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," pulled from required reading lists at several school districts in Texas, Arizona and Michigan for language derogatory to African-Americans.

Louis Sachar, "The Boy Who Lost His Face," challenged at the Thousand Oaks Public Library because of inappropriate language.

Carol Joyce Oates, "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been," challenged in Tyrone, Pa., schools because of its use of profane language.

Sheila Kitzinger, "Being Born," challenged at Lakeview, Ore., school libraries because a parent complained that after her son read the book he asked pointed questions about childbirth.

Maya Angelou, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," removed from a Banning eighth-grade class after several parents complained about explicit passages involving child molestation and rape.

Clive Barker, "Tapping the Vein," removed from the Multnomah, Ore., County Library because of graphic violence, language and sexual content.

Source: American Library Assn.

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