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Local librarians in Pima County weigh in on book bans

'Expect the library has something you don't agree with'
Posted at 5:20 AM, Feb 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-11 12:54:10-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Certain books are being banned across the country, especially if they contain vulgar, racist or sexist material. Last month the Pulitzer Prize winning Holocaust graphic novel 'Maus' by Art Spiegelman was banned in a Tennessee school district.

'To Kill a Mockingbird', 'The Great Gatsby' and 'Of Mice and Men' are some of the other classic titles on the American Library Association's most challenged book list. The Executive Director of Pima County Libraries Amber Mathewson said for a book to be challenged, it's an intricate process.

"For any library system, the only way that a book could ever be banned is if the governing body for that library requires it that be banned," she said. "So sometimes you’ll hear that from school districts that they banned a particular book from their library and that would come from their school board.”

In Pima County, there's a Collection Development Policy that allows people to voice their concerns about a certain book, which then is brought to the Board of Supervisors.

"We do have a very good Collection Development Policy so we do have a process if people are concerned about a book we have," she said. "Expect that the library will have something that you don't agree with and that's our job too."

For the librarians, Mathewson said it's not their job to bar books from anyone as intellectual freedom is cornerstone in the library system, which allows anyone to view information.

"We feel as librarians that it's not our job to defend a certain type of material but it is our job to provide open access to that material," she said.

She said there's a librarian in Pima County that always says the best stocked libraries have something that will offend everyone. Recently, the Arizona House of Representatives introduced bill 2495 that bars schools from showing explicit materials to student with the exception of classic and early American literature.

A local book club that has chapters across the country called Mocha Girls Read, brings together like-minded women of color to enjoy their love of reading.

A local book club that has chapters across the country called Mocha Girls Read, brings together like-minded women of color to enjoy their love of reading.

Shon Parsons, the Tempe Chapter leader, said when it comes to different genres and topics, books are here to open conversations. She said many of the book bans center around children's books and school districts.

"Book bannings are out of fear and maybe you’re afraid for your children," she said. "Personally I believe the more the merrier when it comes to reading. You have a responsibility as a parent to know what’s age appropriate and what to discuss with your children.”

The book club meets once a month over Zoom but soon will move to a hybrid model. They read the books on the banned book list as a part of their regular reading.

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