Tuesday August 30, 2016

Storytime Censored

By Maureen Schlangen

An exhibit of rare first editions of banned and challenged books - many of them children's classics - celebrates young people's freedom to read.

Starting Tuesday, Sept. 6, in the University of Dayton Roesch Library, an exhibit of 15 rare editions of popular children’s, teen and young-adult books will highlight attempts at censorship in the modern era and underline the American Library Association’s contention that “parents — and only parents — have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children — and only their children — to library resources.”

The “Storytime Censored” exhibit, featuring selections from the Rose Rare Book Collection of Dayton-area collectors Stuart and Mimi Rose, coincides with the ALA’s Banned Books Week Sept. 25–Oct. 1. Launched in 1982, the week brings book challenges and bans into the public eye in defense of intellectual freedom — the right to seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction.

In most instances, the ALA says, people who challenge books’ circulation sincerely believe that censorship can improve society, protect children and restore what they may see as lost moral values. However, the ALA says, under the First Amendment, all have the right to read, view, listen to and disseminate constitutionally protected ideas, even if someone finds those ideas offensive.

The exhibit, which closes Sunday, Nov. 13, includes a first edition of 19th-century feminist Louisa May Alcott’s classic Little Women (1868), challenged early for its “radical” portrayal of Jo March, said to be one of the sassiest and smartest female characters in American literature, and by modern-day feminists who suggest it’s not radical enough — pandering to the “weaker sex” mentality and failing to empower girls to succeed.

Other highlights:

Roesch Library is on the University of Dayton campus near Stewart and Brown streets. The gallery is open during Roesch Library’s public hours, 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Daytime visitors may acquire parking passes at the visitor center at College Park and L Street. Visitors may park in any single-letter lot without a permit from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and anytime between 4:30 p.m. Friday and 10 p.m. Sunday. 

Download the list of books on exhibition (PDF).

Use and follow the official hashtag #StorytimeCensored. 

Sources: American Library Association, Ann Arbor Public Library, Christian Science Monitor, Harper College Library, the Smithsonian Institution, University of Tulsa, The Week.

— Maureen Schlangen, University Libraries e-scholarship and communications manager

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