Kamloops library celebrates 'Freedom to Read Week'

By Adam Donnelly
February 27, 2017 - 4:21pm Updated: February 27, 2017 - 6:40pm

KAMLOOPS — It’s 2017, which means there aren’t many subjects still considered taboo enough to remain completely off limits in Canadian society today. At the Kamloops branch of the TNRD Library, they’re ensuring our intellectual freedom remains intact by celebrating Freedom To Read Week, a national campaign to encourage Canadians to think about intellectual freedom while making sure we understand our liberties enshrined in the Charter Of Rights And Freedoms.

According to Catherine Schmidt, Head of Adult Services at the Kamloops Downtown Library, outright bans on specific books are “Pretty rare.”

Throughout history, though, books have been banned for a variety of reasons. In 21st Century Canada, it doesn’t happen very often. This week is Freedom To Read Week, an initiative celebrated across Canada, meant to bring awareness to intellectual freedom.

“Freedom to Read Week is really a way to show support for authors, writers, artists who have been essentially silenced… by various people in the world who don’t want their views or words, to be spread in a certain way ” Schmidt explains.

Historically, books have been banned for many reasons, including political, religious, and in some cases simply asinine ones.

The picture-book titled “It’s a Book” was banned in several school districts in Massachusetts “for the fact it says ‘This is a Jackass’,” Beverly Westerby, Adult Services Advisor at the Library said while pointing to an illustration of a donkey.

Along with bringing awareness to the issue of banned books, the staff at the TNRD Library have some events planned around Freedom To Read Week, including a non-traditional book club called “Books and Brews”. Westerby, who organises the “Books and Brews” club says “It’s a more vibrant atmosphere, I guess than your quiet, traditional book club.” This week’s meeting of “Books and Brews” takes place at Duffy’s Pub on February 28th. The theme is banned books.

There will also be some events held at the downtown branch of the library.

“We’re hosting a read-in,” Schmidt tells CFJC Today. “It’s a mock of a sit-in protest, where we’re going to invite people to just come into the library, and show their support for intellectual freedom by… sitting down with us… between 3-6pm on Thursday, March 2nd, to discuss banned books or just to read a banned book.”

It was George Washington who said: “If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” If today’s political climate is any indication, the butchers are sharpening their knives.


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