Monticello Public Library News

     • The Monticello Public Library will celebrate children’s author Mo Willems on Saturday, Oct. 7. Families are welcome to join in the fun with the characters from Willem’s books from 10:30 a.m. to noon. All of the library’s games, crafts, snacks, and activities will be themed around the characters: Elephant and Piggie, Pigeon and Duckling, and Knuffle Bunny. Registration is not required but appreciated to ensure there will be enough supplies available for the party. The program is free and open to the public, and, is sponsored by the Friends of the Library.

     • Mike Chapman will present his “From Gotch to Gable: Why Iowa Has Such a Strong Wrestling Tradition” at the Monticello library on Thursday, Oct. 5, at 6 p.m. He will talk about how one man, Frank Gotch, is largely responsible for Iowa’s love affair with the sport of wrestling. And another man, Dan Gable, helps keep the flame burning. This program is free and open to the public, and is sponsored by the Friends of the Library.

     • The library will once again have a pumpkin-decorating contest starting on Monday, Oct. 9. Decorated pumpkins can be dropped off from Oct. 9-17 at the library. Voting for your favorite decorated pumpkin will be open from Oct. 18-26. There will also be a pumpkin-decorating time at the library on Saturday, Oct. 14 from 10 a.m. to noon. Supplies will be available for you to decorate a pumpkin. Pumpkins will also be available for purchase during this time as well. You may also bring your own pumpkin to decorate. No carved pumpkins will be allowed in the contest. Pumpkins may be painted, colored on, and have items glued to them; get creative. See the library’s website or Facebook page for full contest rules. Winners will be announced on Oct. 26.

     • Throughout the country, most children are starting a new academic year. Teachers are sending out their lists of required readings, and parents are beginning to gather books. In some cases, classics like “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “The Catcher in the Rye,” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” may not be included in curriculum or available in the school library due to challenges made by parents or administrators.

     Since 1990, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has recorded more than 10,000 book challenges, including 323 in 2016. A challenge is a formal, written complaint requesting a book be removed from library shelves or school curriculum. About half of all challenges are to material in schools or school libraries, and one in four are to material in public libraries. OIF estimates that less than one-quarter of challenges are reported and recorded.

     It is thanks to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, and students that most challenges are unsuccessful and reading materials like “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” “Slaughterhouse Five,” the Harry Potter series, and the “Hunger Games” series remain available.

     The most challenged and/or restricted readings have been books for children. However, challenges are not simply an expression of a point of view. On the contrary; they are an attempt to remove materials from public use, thereby restricting the access of others. Even if the motivation to ban or challenge a book is well intentioned, the outcome is detrimental. Censorship denies our freedom as individuals to choose and think for ourselves. For children, decisions about what books to read should be made by the people who know them best—their parents.

     In support of the right to choose freely for ourselves, the ALA and the Monticello Public Library are celebrating Banned Books Week, Sept. 24-30, an annual recognition of our right to access books without censorship.

     Since its inception in 1982, Banned Books Week has reminded us that while not every book is intended for every reader, each of us has the right to decide for ourselves what to read, listen to, or view. Monticello Public Library and thousands of colleges, schools, libraries, and bookstores across the country will celebrate the freedom to read by participating in special events, exhibits, and read-outs that showcase books that have been banned or threatened.

     American libraries are the cornerstones of our democracy. Libraries are for everyone, everywhere. Because libraries provide free access to a world of information, they bring opportunity to all people. Now, more than ever, celebrate the freedom to read at your library! Read an old favorite or a new banned book this week.


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