Freedom to read in the public library – L’Etoile d’or
There has been a lot of discussion around the word “freedom” lately.
The meaning may vary from person to person, but the guarantee of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the same for everyone. Under Article 2(b), everyone has the right to freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.
This statement is never truer than when public libraries across the country reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom during Freedom to Read Week, which runs from February 20-26.
One week a year the library celebrates the freedom to read, but the reality is that we fight for your right every day. There is an abundance of reading and listening material with a wide variety of opinions, thoughts, beliefs and ideals at the library.
There are also those who disagree with these opinions, thoughts and beliefs and as such believe that this material should be removed from the public library. We oppose this censorship, believing that when people have the freedom to choose, they take responsibility for their own preferences. They must also respect the rights of others to make that same choice.
As you browse through the stacks of the library, you may find books that are unconventional, inappropriate, or unimportant to you. Having these materials available for the next person to read is essential, these books impact people’s lives.
On the Okanagan Regional Library’s website, our statement on intellectual freedom reads: “We stand for access to information and exposure to diverse points of view. The library as a public institution supports the free exchange of ideas as a fundamental element of a democratic society.
Visit the library and browse the stacks. Discover a disputed book from the display.
Ask about Maus by Art Spiegelman which was published in 1986 and recently banned from a Tennessee school library. With the waiting list for this Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel growing, the ban seems to have sparked renewed interest in the book.
Spiegelman designed a bookmark for banned books week a few years ago. It says “Keep your nose in a book – and keep other people’s noses out of the books you choose to stick your nose in!”
Celebrate Reading Freedom Week in February and keep reading banned books.
Caroline McKay is the Community Librarian for the Summerland Branch of the Okanagan Regional Library.
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