Freedom to Read Week (Feb. 19 – 25)

Freedom to Read Week takes place every February in Canada. It’s a week to focus on issues of intellectual freedom.

When groups or individuals interfere with this right by attempting to prevent or impede access to books or magazines, this is known as a challenge.

The Petawawa Public Library and Intellectual Freedom

You may have heard about publications that have been challenged in school settings, but libraries have also been subjected to calls to censor, restrict, or remove materials in their collections. The Petawawa Public Library is committed to upholding, and advocating for intellectual freedom to ensure everyone can access the information they seek. In our Policy Manual we have a policy on Intellectual Freedom that clearly states this.

Reasons books and magazines have been challenged

Since 1984 Freedom to Read has shone a light on publications Canadians have questioned. The reasons for challenging these books and magazines include:

  • sexually explicit content
  • depiction of violence
  • LGBTQ content
  • obscenity
  • nudity
  • sexism
  • religious viewpoint
  • racism
  • political viewpoint
  • occult/witchcraft
  • hate

A fuller list is available in the article entitled “Understanding Challenges to Books and Magazines” by Jaclyn Law and Alvin M. Schrader on the Freedom to Read website.

What happens when an item is challenged

Challenging a book or magazine does not mean the item will be automatically banned. There are a range of possibilities.

After carefully evaluating the nature of the challenge, an institution such a school or library can decide to change nothing and continue to provide free access to the item. In a library, a work may be reclassified and moved to a different part of the collection.

If the library or school deems that more drastic measures are necessary, access to the item might be restricted, or it could be withdrawn completely.

What to do if you have a concern about material in the Petawawa Public Library

We have a “Statement of Concern about Library Materials” form, and we encourage you to use it. You’ll have an opportunity to name the publication and articulate your thoughts on why you believe it is unsuitable. This will open a dialogue and you will end up with a response from the Library that will weigh your concerns against our Intellectual Freedom policy.

Exercise your intellectual freedom today!

Borrow a challenged book this week! View our Freedom to Read Topic Guide for reading suggestions from our Library.

Published by Petawawa Public Library

The history of the Petawawa Public Library can be traced back to 1973 when what is now known as the Town of Petawawa consisted of two separate municipalities: the Village of Petawawa and the Township of Petawawa. In 1997, with the amalgamation of the Township and Village, the new Town of Petawawa became home to the “Petawawa Public Library”. Today, the Petawawa Public Library continues to grow. It employs full-time and part-time staff and continues to rely on the help of loyal volunteers to serve over 7000 active members.

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