Movements to ban books have increased recently and are even happening in West Michigan. In August, voters in Jamestown, Michigan, chose to defund the township’s library rather than allow certain books to be read.
Banned Books Week, September 18-24, 2022, celebrates the freedom to read and spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. For 40 years, the annual event has brought together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.
In a time of intense political polarization, library staff in every state are facing an unprecedented number of attempts to ban books. The American Library Association (ALA) tracked 729 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services in 2021, resulting in more than 1,597 individual book challenges or removals — the highest numbers the ALA has seen in the 20 years it has compiled these numbers. The preponderance of books targeted were about Black or LGBTQ+ people.
The theme for Banned Books Week 2022 is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.” Sharing stories important to us means sharing a part of ourselves. Books reach across boundaries and build connections between readers. Censorship, on the other hand, creates barriers. Banned Books Week is both a reminder of the unifying power of stories and the divisiveness of censorship, and a call to action for readers across the country to push back against censorship attempts in their communities.
On June 18, Grand Rapids showed its pride during the 34th annual Grand Rapids Pride Festival. Today, our pride continues as we commemorate the 53rd Anniversary of Stonewall, which many consider the catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States. Read more about Stonewall on History.com. Additionally, please stop by the library to see our Stonewall book display or check out some of the resources we have supporting the LGBTQ+ community here at GRCC by visiting our LGBTQ Resources Subject Guide.
On June 17th, 2021, President Biden signed legislation making Juneteenth a federal holiday. This year Juneteenth falls on Sunday, June 19th; therefore, the national holiday will be celebrated on Monday, June 20th, 2022. We encourage you to celebrate freedom by reflecting on what freedom means to you as we approach the holiday. Also, check out and read some of the many resources we have on African-American history and Juneteenth.
Historically, Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19th annually. The holiday is also called Freedom Day or Emancipation Day. It is the day that enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, learned that they were free following the surrender of the Confederate Army in Texas. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st, 1863, which ended institutionalized slavery in America. The enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, did not know about their emancipation until the Union Army, led by General Gordon Granger, arrived in the town and read the Emancipation Proclamation out loud on June 19th, 1865. That was almost two and a half years after Lincoln signed the proclamation.
There is so much to learn about the events leading up to the Emancipation Proclamation and Juneteenth. We have many resources in the library for you to explore, discover and enjoy. So to strengthen your knowledge and appreciation for the holiday, come check out some history.
Summer is here!!!. It’s time for relaxing, reading, swimming, walking, hiking, camping, boating, grilling, and so much more!!! So head out and enjoy the sun, and if you are planning a summer feast, you might want to check out our collection of cookbooks with many summer recipes. Check-out our display on the 2nd floor and /or use Raidersearch to search for words like: barbecuing, and “outdoor cooking“. Let the feasts begin!!!
Like a spider who works to build or repair a web at night, Mark Fortuna, the evening custodian for the library, has created small art masterpieces for staff and students to enjoy. Do you remember the book Charlotte’s Web? In the book Charlotte, a spider uses her silk and talent to save Wilber the pig. Overnight she would weave works of art designed to grab attention and promote Wilbur as some terrific, radiant, and humble pig. These webs of positivity would grab people’s attention, and they would marvel at her creativity, skill, dedication, and love for her friend. Her creations not only saved Wilbur’s life but also brought joy and happiness to the people who saw them.
If you have not stopped by the library lately, you have been missing out on our very own nocturnal artist. Like Charlotte, Mark Fortuna, the library’s evening custodian, has been using his imagination, talent, and skills to bring smiles and joy to those who come into the library. Some morning when we arrive, we find that our resident artist has created another drawing on one of the whiteboards for us to enjoy. Last week he drew an image called “Super Custodians.” In this drawing, he featured himself and others as superheroes which rings true as we certainly all believe that Mark is a super person!