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Faculty, students to read excerpts from minority authors in observance of ‘Banned Books Week’

NEWPORT, R.I. (Sept. 27, 2016) – Members of the Salve Regina community will line up to read excerpts from their favorite “Banned Books” to highlight how censorship disproportionately affects minority authors. The “Read Out,” which is sponsored by the university’s McKillop Library, is part of the week-long celebration of “Banned Books Week,” a national observance coordinated by the American Library Association.
A mix of faculty, students – and librarians – will be reading from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 28 on the lawn outside McKillop Library, Ochre Point Avenue. Each participant will offer a few words about why they’ve chosen their book and then read a brief excerpt.   
Among the selections are: “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak; “Bless Me Ultima” by Rodolfo Anaya; “Sula” by Toni Morrison; “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker; “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain; “Eleanor and Park” by Rainbow Rowell and “Home to Harlem” by Claude McKay.
According to the American Library Association, more than half of all books that are targeted for censorship are written by authors of color or contain issues dealing with diverse communities. Salve Regina’s event aims to highlight the fact that there is still an active impulse to censor these books in the United States.
“People tend to seek to ban books that contradict their personal values and world view, and the library profession is solidly in favor of intellectual freedom and solidly opposed to censorship,” said Dawn Emsellem-Wichowski, director of library services. “Among our core tenets is the belief that a democracy must allow all voices in the marketplace of ideas. Libraries can be places where these ideas are explored and debated.”
Through the banned books week events, students can hear about which books made their friends and professors who they are, and see why censorship is a dangerous thing, she said. Other events activities during the week include “Blind Date with a Banned Book” and “Movie Night.”
“Librarians take the perspective that literature’s job is to challenge us, or, alternatively, to show us that we’re not alone,” Emsellum-Wichowski said. “Reading books can expose us to lives lived outside our own experience, building bridges and empathy. Personally, I feel that empathy and the impulse to understand the lives of others is something that is sorely needed right now.”