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Library partners with Sigma Tau Delta to mark Banned Books Week

The University of Delaware Library is partnering with Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honor society, and ENGL 280: Challenging Books, to celebrate Banned Books Week Sept. 25-Oct. 1.

Banned Books Week is a national celebration of the freedom to read, and is an opportunity for libraries and educational institutions to raise awareness of the problem of book censorship.

According to the American Library Association, more than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982. However, many of these challenged books remain accessible thanks to the efforts of teachers, librarians and citizens who speak out in defense of the first amendment and the freedom to read.

This year, the library will participate in Banned Books Week in partnership with the Department of English and Sigma Tau Delta with programs and exhibits that highlight this important issue.

The fourth annual Banned Book Read-Out will take place on Friday, Sept. 30, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., on the South Green. The rain location is Morris Library.

The event will provide students, faculty, staff and other members of the campus community with an opportunity to engage in conversation surrounding this important issue. The event will also feature a display of challenged books, graphic novels, and films from the University of Delaware Library and children's books from the Education Resource Center.

The read-out will be a central feature of the celebration on Sept. 30. Students, faculty and staff are invited to participate by sharing and reading out passages from their favorite books that have been banned or challenged anywhere in the world. Participants can also enter for a chance to win a copy of a frequently banned book.

The campus community is also welcome to participate virtually by contributing a recorded reading of a passage from a controversial book. Along with the reading, virtual participants can explain where and why the book has been challenged, share a story about the text, or describe an experience with a local challenge.

To participate virtually, send an MP4 file to or visit the Morris Library and use the Student Multimedia Design Center's One-Button Studio to record a message. The One-Button Studio will be available during the entire Banned Book Read-Out on Sept. 30, and can also be reserved by calling 302-831-8832.

The library will also showcase a selection of historic copies of banned and censored books from its Special Collections as part of an exhibition, "Banned Books," curated by Alexander Johnston, senior assistant librarian. The books on display will range from Renaissance texts that were banned for religious and political reasons to more recent literary texts that were suppressed by government censors on charges of obscenity.

One of the highlights is a 1632 copy of Galileo Galilei's Dialogo, which was condemned as heretical by the Roman Inquisition for espousing the belief that the Earth revolved around the sun. The exhibit will be on display in the Information Area on the first floor of the Morris Library from Sept. 26 to Oct. 21.

In addition to the Banned Books exhibit, the current Special Collections exhibit, "Shakespeare Through the Ages," includes two English histories that were challenged by the state in their day. One, Edward Hall's chronicle, printed in 1550, was banned outright in 1555 by Queen Mary I. The other, Raphael Holinshed's chronicle, printed in 1587, was expurgated at the command of Queen Elizabeth I, as she disagreed with the chronicle's take on contemporary events.

"Shakespeare Through the Ages," curated by Alexander Johnston, is on view through Dec. 12 in the Special Collections exhibit gallery.

Those with questions about the read-out are invited to contact April Kendra at Questions about the virtual read out may be directed to Meg Grotti at

Full information on Banned Books Week is available at the American Library Association website and also at this Banned Books Week site. ALA maintains a list of frequently banned or challenged books.

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  • Department of English
  • 203 Memorial Hall
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • University of Delaware
  • Phone: 302-831-2361