‘Censorship divides us’: Spokane Public Library holds events for Banned Books Week

SPOKANE, Wash. — It’s Banned Books Week, and libraries are gearing up with a new theme.

“Books unite us, censorship divides us,” says Amy Rodda, director of the Community Library Network.

Libraries across the region are standing firm, pushing to keep books on shelves.

“The public library is just that, it’s for the public,” explained Rodda. “We’re here for everyone.”

In her time with the Community Library Network, she says five books have been formally challenged. None of them have been removed from shelves.

“We’re not here to dictate or endorse, but we are here to make sure if somebody wants to come read about a certain topic, that they can find that here at the library.”

It’s a mentality that’s contagious within libraries across the region.

“As a public entity, as a public library, we believe in the freedom to read,” said Amanda Donovan, director of marketing and communications at Spokane Public Library. “[We believe in] the freedom to view and to make sure a variety of perspectives are available on our shelves.”

Both libraries are embracing Banned Books Week, an event that first began back in 1982.

“Banned Books Week is a chance to highlight and celebrate the freedom to read,” said Rodda.

The Spokane Public Library is hosting three different events at their downtown location. They’ve organized three guest speakers to speak about censorship, and their personal experiences when it comes to books being banned.

One of those speakers is Kimber Glidden, the former Boundary County Library director. Glidden recently stepped down from her position after conservative Christian activists demanded the library remove over 400 books from their shelves. These titles focused on LGBTQ+ themes, and contained sexual scenes within them.

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Though none of the books on their list were ever a part of the library’s collection.

Donovan is excited to host her.

“I think all librarians will really stand together and [agree that] the freedom to read, the freedom of expression; it’s paramount to the librarian field.”

Glidden is slated to speak at the Spokane Public Library on October 6.