Week-long event reifies the importance of intellectual rights
By Naomi Ambrose, Staff Writer
During the week of February 24 to March 2, the yearly Freedom to Read Week event was held throughout Canada.
This annual event “encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom,” according to the Freedom to Read website.
The website also stated that Freedom to Read Week is connected to the Book and Periodical Council (BPC). The council oversees Canadian associations that are involved, either directly or through their members, with writing, publishing, promoting, circulating, reading, and every other aspect related to producing and consuming written works.
This year’s event marks 35 years since the launch of Freedom to Read Week.
The Freedom to Read website also suggested a variety of ways that Canadians could get involved. The website encouraged members of the community to participate in the event through activities like starting a banned-book club and sharing their experiences with banned books in their school or community libraries. Other suggestions included encouraging participants to create quizzes and trivia questions based on challenged books and instances in history when the freedom to consume literature has been limited
Douglas College Library participated in the event. According a news release on the library’s website, the library display shelves featured banned books as well as books that have challenged the status quo.
Some of the featured books included Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, and Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. People who borrowed the controversial books were encouraged to have their photos snapped. The photos were then posted on the library’s Twitter page.
While sharing her thoughts about Freedom to Read Week, Alexandra Dobre, Douglas College’s Outreach and Engagement Librarian, explained the importance of the library’s participation in the event.
“In this day and age, particularly with challenges to correct information and freedom of the press, it is critical that Douglas College students advocate for their freedom to read whatever they choose, and not be dictated by government or institutional or educational policies as to what they can,” said Dobre in an email interview with the Other Press.
Dobre also stated, “Books in Canada get challenged and banned regularly and libraries and schools get asked to remove such books from their collections […] Freedom to read is linked to academic freedom which is one of the purposes of a well-rounded education and great citizenship.”
When asked whether events like Freedom to Read are enough to encourage people to exercise their right to read banned books, Dobre said, “I think events like Freedom to Read week certainly bring awareness and remind students of their right to intellectual freedom.”