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Hastings and Dobbs Ferry Acknowledge Banned Books

HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – What do J.K. Rowling, J.D Salinger, Anne Frank and Maya Angelou have in common? They are each authors of books that have been challenged or banned in some parts of the United States.

Each year, the American Library Association celebrates Banned Books Week, which ends Saturday. With the help of libraries and booksellers across the nation, the ALA has put a spotlight on the practice of banning books despite the right of freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

According to the ALA, nearly every library and school district across the county has a policy allowing a person to request that a book be taken off their shelves or deleted from a school curriculum.

"Even if well intentioned, censors try to limit the freedom of others to choose what they read, see, or hear," notes the ALA website.

Local libraries acknowledged Banned Books Week, but most said that there's never been a problem with the selection of books.

"I've been here 18 years and no one has ever requested that a book" be removed, said Sue Feir, Hastings Library director .

The Dobbs Ferry Public Library recognized the annual event with a display of banned books, but young adult librarian Anne Quick said there has never been a problem there with someone asking that a book be removed.

"As far as I know we haven't had any challenges ever," she said.

The Dobbs Ferry Library featured books that had been banned in various places across the country covered in paper bags detailing why they were outlawed.

"Anything's free, libraries are all about open access," Quick said.

The ALA website has lists of books that have been challenged and/or banned over the yearsIn Culpeper, VA, the Culpeper County School District of 7,600 students had The Diary of Anne Frank banned when a few parents said the book contained "sexual material and homosexual references."But an overwhelming majority of parents stirred up so much controversy at the banning of this book that school officials re-instated it and placed it on the reading list for a higher grade level.One of the most challenged or banned books on the ALA list is the children's book "And Tango Makes Three," by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, a picture book based on a true story of how two male penguins nurtured an abandoned egg at the Central Park Zoo.

Feir reminded book lovers that many of the books were controversial, but for good reason.

"A lot of times they're explicit, but they're cautionary tales," she said.

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