Banned Books Week Read Out

University Libraries at The University of Southern Mississippi will host Banned Books Week Sept. 21-27, 2014, as a part of the nationwide event to celebrate the freedom to read.

Typically held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community–-librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers and readers of all types–-in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

University Libraries will present the Southern Miss Read Out in the Cook Library Art Gallery Sept. 25. Members of the university faculty, staff and student body including Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Joe Paul, professor of journalism Dr. David R. Davies, and Honors College Dean Dr. Ellen Weinauer will read excerpts from their favorite banned books throughout the day.

“There is always confusion about censorship and banned books,” said Ellen Ruffin, curator of the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection at Southern Miss. “Well-meaning parents often lodge complaints or challenges concerning books their children are reading. Parents have the right to make those kinds of decisions for their own children, but what they deem appropriate may be in direct conflict with other parents.

“In the United States of America, we have basic freedoms, and by drawing attention to Banned Books Week, we hope to remind people of their freedoms - to read, to believe, and to choose,” Ruffin said. “The American Library Association’s document on the Freedom to Read begins by stating that the freedom to read is essential to our democracy. One of my favorite quotes is from Voltaire, who said, ‘I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend your right to say it.’”

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted with removal or restrictions in libraries and schools. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only because of the efforts of librarians, teachers, students and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.

The Read Out schedule for Sept. 25 is as follows:

*10 a.m. Fred Varnado, Director of the Office of Professional Development - Bone, written by Jeff Smith

*10:15 a.m. Dr. Dave Davies, Interim Chair and Professor, School of Mass Communication & Journalism - Captain Underpants, written by Dav Pilkey

*10:30 a.m. Jennifer Brannock, Associate Professor and Curator of Rare Books and Mississippiana, University Libraries - 50 Shades of Gray, written by E. L. James

*10:45 a.m. Dr. Amy Miller, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, College of Arts and Letters - Are You There God, It's Me Margaret, written by Judy Blume

*11 a.m. Dr. Joe Paul, Vice President for Student Affairs - Catcher in the Rye, written by J. D. Salinger

*11:15 a.m. Linda Ginn, Associate Professor and Catalog Librarian, University Libraries - Grapes of Wrath, written by John Steinbeck

*11:30 a.m. Dr. Sherita Johnson, Associate Professor, Department of English - Black Boy, written by Richard Wright

*11:45 a.m. Dr. Ellen Weinauer, Dean of the Honors College and Associate Professor of English - To Kill a Mockingbird, written by Harper Lee

*12 p.m. Dr. Susan Hrowtowski, Associate Professor, School of Social Work - I Know why the Caged Bird Sings, written by Maya Angelou

*12:15 p.m. Justin Martin, General Manager, WUSM - Brave New World, written by Aldous Huxley

*12:30 p.m. Jeffrey George, President of the Student Government Association - Looking for Alaska, written by John Green

*12:45 p.m. Dr. Karen Coats, Dean of the Graduate School - Les Miserables, written by Victor Hugo

*1 p.m. Dr. Eric Tribunella, Chair and Associate Professor, Department of English - King and King, written by Linda DeHaan

For more information on The Read Out and Banned Books Week, contact Dawn Smith at dawn.smith@usm.edu or 601.266.4120.