Reader Sophia Farmer shares a poem from the banned book “Howl and Other Poems.” Banned book week was celebrated Sept. 21 to Sept. 27, and continues as a monthlong focus at Oceanside Public Library. Photo by Promise Yee
Reader Sophia Farmer shares a poem from the banned book “Howl and Other Poems.” Banned book week was celebrated Sept. 21 to Sept. 27, and continues as a monthlong focus at Oceanside Public Library. Photo by Promise Yee
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Banned books get library recognition

OCEANSIDE — Banned books get national library recognition for a week in September, and a month of focused attention at Oceanside Public Library.

Senior librarian Jennelise Hafen said libraries want to draw attention to the need for transparency and access to all types of literature.

“The month raises awareness, and lets people know they are allowed to read what they want,” Hafen said.

To celebrate the freedom to read, Oceanside library organized a public read aloud of the 1956 banned book “Howl and Other Poems” by Allen Ginsberg on Sept. 25.

Performance poets from Glassless Minds poetry group read to a spontaneously gathered audience in the Civic Center Plaza.

Reader Sophia Sandoval said the read aloud gave listeners an opportunity to engage with Ginsberg’s poetry.

Rolland Tizuela, founder of Glassless Minds, said every book should be available to every person in public libraries.

“Youth today have a whole new outlook on the power of literature,” Tizuela said. “People are more well-informed and better equipped to make their own decisions. The younger generation takes everything with a grain of salt.”

He said banning books is an act of close-minded ideology. And added some of today’s greatest literature was once banned, like the works of George Orwell.

While most people support access to all literature at public libraries, Hafen said there are groups that still call for books to be banned because of the works’ sexual content, language or violence.

She said people feel an ownership of books that are bought with taxpayer money and housed in public institutions.

The policy of Oceanside Public Library is to log people’s feedback on books, but does not include removing criticized books from library shelves.

Hafen said if readers have an interest in a subject they should have the right to gain further insight through books.

“Oceanside Library buys titles based on interests and popular reviews, not because of content,” Hafen said.

Hafen said library patrons with an extreme point of view sometimes take matters into their own hands, and steal books off the shelf that they believe should not be read.

She added that often times the objected to sexual content, language or violence in a book is an integral part of the storyline. A fairly recent example is “The Hunger Games” trilogy published in 2008, 2009 and 2010

“‘The Hunger Games’ was banned for violence, but that’s part of the storyline,” Hafen said. “What the author was trying to say was that it possibly could happen. It raises awareness at a different level. It’s worth noting the violence and language.”

The Oceanside Public Library also holds a monthly banned book club. “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini was read and discussed in September. The banned book club meets the third Tuesday of each month.

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