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
- religious viewpoint
- political viewpoint
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or school deems that more drastic measures are necessary, access to the item might be restricted, or it could be withdrawn completely.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.