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Ronan library celebrates banned books

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RONAN — It’s hard to imagine a public library without great works of literary fiction such as “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “Clockwork Orange.” But for a few American citizens, a library bereft of such masterpieces would be the ideal.

Last week, Ronan Public Library along with public libraries across the country celebrated Banned Book Week with a display of books that have been banned from public or school libraries. 

Banned Books Week celebrates the First Amendment and highlights the benefits of free and public information, while drawing attention to the harmful affects of restricting public access to information. 

“It’s a big celebration for public libraries,” Ronan Librarian Michelle Fenger said. “We want to make people realize that challenges and bans still happen.”

The works of fiction on display in Ronan include the regulars like “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” a book that was at one time banned from England and the United States for sexual content, and modern day children’s titles including “James and the Giant Peach” and the Harry Potter series, which were challenged on grounds of disobedience and witchcraft, respectively. 

Fenger explained that sometimes “parents and teachers don’t think it’s appropriate because of language or sexual content.” But it’s an issue that can be solved with sensitivity to age appropriateness, Fenger believes. 

Historically, the reasons for challenging or banning books can be quite surprising. 

In 1929, Tarzan of the Apes was removed from the Los Angeles County Library system because it was supposed that Jane was living in sin with Tarzan. 

Even more recently in 1983, “The Diary of Anne Frank” was challenged by the Alabama Textbook Committee under the premise that it was a “real downer.”

Even in the current day and age “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Tom Sawyer” are still challenged on the grounds of racism, Fenger explained. 

But luckily, Ronan has had no such problems recently. Fenger said that other than a few patrons who have requested certain books be moved to another section, the public library is proud to contain a range of alleged risqué titles including the “Grapes of Wrath” and “Brave New World.”

“I’m a firm believer in the freedom to read and allowing people to read whatever they want,” Fenger said.

“Visit your local library and pick up a banned book,” she added, smiling. 

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