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Celebrate reading freedom, Banned Book Week at Poudre Libraries

A+reading+corner+next+to+the+business+section+of+Old+Firehouse+Books+in+Fort+Collins+Sept.+15.
Collegian | Aria Paul
A reading corner next to the business section of Old Firehouse Books in Fort Collins Sept. 15. Old Firehouse Books is an independently owned and operated bookstore, selling both new and used books in Old Town Fort Collins.

Let freedom read,” promotional posters for Banned Books Week read. Beginning next week, the Poudre River Public Library District will be hosting their very own Banned Books Week in collaboration with the American Library Association to celebrate the intellectual freedom and right to read, said Laura Puls, a senior librarian at the Harmony Library.

Banned Books Week is a national event that has taken place during the last week of September or first week of October since 1982. However, the Freedom to Read Statement was formally recognized by the American Library Association and the Association of American Publishers in 1953 and is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.

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The Poudre River Public Library District includes three libraries — Old Town, Harmony and Council Tree — that span across all of Fort Collins, providing residents with the opportunity to “come in, be together and learn and explore together,” said Diane Lapierre, executive director for the Poudre Libraries.

After spending over 30 years working in public libraries throughout the Northern Colorado area, Lapierre shared her thoughts on the reality that there have been some challenges to books in public libraries that she has personally experienced. She said occasionally, a customer asks for a book to be removed from a shelf. Lapierre made it clear that those rare customers are taken very seriously.

“Our folks in our collection department will read reviews, take a look at the book and determine (if) should it be in our collection or not based on the criteria we use and the reviews that are there,” Lapierre said.

The criteria for whether a book should be removed from a library or moved to a different section in the library consider more than just the complaint. It also looks into if that book is checked out, if there is a new edition that could update the content and reviews from other libraries and experts to inform their decision. However, a book has never been removed from any of the libraries in the Poudre Library District.

“We should definitely be having conversations about thoughts, ideas and books anytime we’re trying to restrict somebody else from thinking, reading and speaking,” Lapierre said. This is the goal of the celebration of Banned Books Week, allowing residents of Fort Collins and people throughout the nation to understand.

“It’s important for us to be proactive and make sure that our policies are in place for protecting intellectual freedom,” Puls said as she discussed all the events Poudre Libraries will be hosting during the first week of October in celebration of Banned Books Week.

Each library throughout the district will have book displays that will include an image of the books that have recently been challenged as well as some information on the other side that will explain why the book was challenged, even if it is checked out. Fort Collins residents will also get the opportunity to partake in a reading program Oct. 2 at The Lyric, wherein volunteers will read passages from banned books to open up the dialogue about why the book should or should not be banned from libraries and learn from other perspectives.

Puls also said the libraries will be hosting a challenge for the month of October in which they will encourage participants to read one banned book and then pick one of six other activities to complete before the end of the month. Participants can enter to win some banned books swag.

Poudre Libraries will be hosting events all week to celebrate the freedom to read and the opportunity to continue to have open dialogue about books being challenged. Colorado State University students will be provided with the opportunity “to pay attention to these kinds of bans, look at their own library collections and consider what they want to see in their libraries,” Puls said.

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Reach Dominique Lopez at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @caffeinateddee6.

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About the Contributor
Dominique Lopez, Opinion Editor

Dominique Lopez is a third-year journalism student minoring in women’s studies and is currently the opinion editor for The Collegian.

Lopez is originally from Alamosa, Colorado, and moved to Fort Collins to attend Colorado State University. While in Fort Collins, Lopez has spent her time working for The Collegian and is a swim instructor and front desk associate at Splash Swim School.

When Lopez isn’t working or attending classes, you can find her at home reading a good book, stress baking in her kitchen or binge-watching her favorite TV shows.

She chose journalism as her field of study in the hopes that it would bring her closer to the community and provide her with the opportunity to write about what is really affecting her in that moment. Some topics she is passionate about are social justice, gender studies and finding ways to honor her community and origins through her education.

As the opinion editor, Lopez hopes to inspire new writers to be able to find their true passions in writing, as well as diversify the topics that are written about in The Collegian’s opinion section and iscuss thoughts on important issues that impact the students at Colorado State University.

Lopez is excited to pursue this new year of journalism and is eager to see what the year will bring, especially as she continues to meet new journalists pursing topics they are passionate about.

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