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Learn about Freedom to Read Week at the Stettler Public Library February 16, 2022 4:40pm

February 20 to 26, 2022, is a significant week in the Stettler Public Library’s calendar. It is Freedom to Read Week, the week that celebrates intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. You may be wondering why this week is so important. It has to do with challenges to the materials you can access through libraries. These challenges come for a variety of reasons.

A challenge to library material is an attempt to censor, remove or restrict access to a publication, resulting in people not being able to access the material easily or indeed at all. For example, publications are challenged when a reader objects to or finds offensive the language, humour, viewpoints expressed, the portrayal of sexuality, different political ideologies, and opinions. Challenges can come from library patrons, parents and guardians, students, elected officials, and others.

Many excellent books have been challenged throughout the years. Some of the most challenged books in Canada include The Giver by Lois Lowry; The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood; Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson; The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling; The Holy Bible; The Goosebumps Series by R.L. Stine; Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. I’m sure that you have read some of these as well as many others.

A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone,” as was said best by librarian and former editor of Wilson Library Bulletin, Mary Jo Godwin. While it is not our intention to offend anyone, we recognize that it is a fundamental right to be able to read what you want, access the information that you desire, and to be able to express one’s thoughts through words.

When a book is challenged at the Stettler Public Library, the person objecting to the material is asked to complete a “Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials” form. The form asks several questions, have you read or viewed the entire work, what portions of the material did you find objectionable, what alternatives to the work would be suggested and what action the person would like the library to take. The Library Manager reviews the request, and a written response is provided to the customer. If the customer disagrees with the response, they may make a further request for reconsideration to the Stettler Library Board, whose decision will be final.

The Stettler Public Library has a display on now in which you can have a Blind Date with a Banned Book. Each book is wrapped in brown paper with a description of the book. You will not know which book it is until you sign it out and take it home. I challenge you to check one out to celebrate your Freedom to Read!

Crystal Friars

Stettler Public Library


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