New DU exhibit highlights book ban

Banning books is not new. In fact, the first known event in the United States happened in 1637. Certain books are constantly banned, such as finn blueberry. The Bible is regularly questioned. Although the books are constantly challenged, they are rarely removed from collections.

Currently on display on the main level of the Anderson Academic Commons (AAC) Library at the University of Denver is a collection of books notable for having been repeatedly banned, curated from the library’s Special Collections and Archives by Madison Sussmann , librarian and exhibition assistant. teacher.

“What does “forbidden” mean? asks University of Denver archivist David Fasman, explaining that book banning is an institutional-level event that’s actually quite limited in its ability to reduce access to controversial titles. In fact, he says, banning a book in one location often generates more interest in it in neighboring collections. Most book bans occur in school libraries, and the majority of challenges and removals are happening in a handful of states.

Fasman will teach an enrichment program course at the University on Nov. 29 that explores modern and historical examples of censorship, from Socrates to social media.

“Look who they’re not allowing to tweet right now and who they’re not allowing to have Instagram accounts,” Fasman says. “It’s not just about books from the 1800s. It’s repeated over and over throughout history.

The relationship between disputed stories and the people they tell about is not trivial, especially in a time when misinformation is rampant. Most books banned in the United States in 2022 feature marginalized people, such as LGBTQIA+ people and people of color, and reports show this activity is increasing at an unprecedented rate. And then there’s the book burning, which Fasman sees as a prelude to something far more unsettling.

“People have to be careful,” he says. “People have to start worrying about when books are being burned in certain areas and which books are being burned in certain areas.”

Fasman compares images taken from a 2022 book bonfire in Tennessee to a historic photograph of Nazis burning books in Berlin in 1933. “They look almost identical,” he says. “It’s only black and white versus color.”

Intellectual freedom is complicated and libraries exist to serve the communities around them.

“Sometimes you have to defend objectionable material,” says Katherine Crowe, curator of special collections and archives at DU. It is the librarian’s job to manage book selection and collection management, playing a vital role in enabling ethical access to meaningful content, including books that have been challenged, banned and burned.

The AAC is always looking for ways to meet student needs, and recent recognition from the Princeton Review confirms that the work is not going unnoticed. The University was awarded first place for “Best University Libraryin 2022 based on student votes.

“The library is a positive presence in our students’ lives, and it shows,” Crowe says. “Libraries are not just bookstores. We are a place where people meet and hopefully create new acquaintances and make connections.

AAC offers a variety of meeting spaces. Those visiting the library can choose to work in the cafe or in a private study room, or simply meet for coffee and a chat. The AAC model is an intentional sharing space, and it is intended to be agile and adaptable to users.

“They can configure it however they want,” Crowe says. If you go down to the lower level of the AAC, you can even access the library’s special collections and archives, where many unique historical documents can be viewed, including those on display in the new exhibit.

The Forbidden Books Exhibition is free to the public and can be viewed during normal library hours.

The David Fasman Two-Hour Enrichment Course is a unique two-hour event that is also open to the public. Register here for “Banned Books, Censorship, and Intellectual Freedom: The Age-Old Battle for the Freedom to Read, Believe, and Speak Without Limits.”

Angela C. Hale