Banned books on display at Invercargill Library

Teen librarian Rowan Kiff arranges a display of banned book at the Invercargill Public Library.

Teen librarian Rowan Kiff arranges a display of banned book at the Invercargill Public Library.

Fifty controversial novels are wrapped in a mystery book lucky­-dip at Invercargill City Library to remember the banning of books throughout history.

The event marks Banned Book Week,  which runs from September 27 to October 4 and commemorates banned literature worldwide, and follows the banning of Into the River, a teenage fiction facing an interim ban for sexually explicit content. Library visitors can check-out banned books which are wrapped in brown paper.

Teen librarian Rowan Kiff opposed the banning of books, and said reasons behind legal action were often found laughable by later generations.

"Harry Potter was banned because it exposed children to a cult and vaguely inappropriate language, and it's been taken out of high school libraries and other libraries just because of that."

"James and the Giant Peach was banned for being racist, defying authority, drug use, sexually explicit."

The recent banning of Into the River proved contended literature is still at risk of censorship, even in New Zealand, Kiff said.

Into the River, written by Auckland author Ted Dawe, was deemed too sexually explicit for young and vulnerable readers.

"I really wanted to display Into the River, but you can't actually display or advertise it."

Libraries or schools who override the interim ban are liable for fines up to $10,000.

Many books were written ­off for legitimate reasons, Kiff said. "There's a 100 best joke book and it was banned because of racial slurs."

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Digital and communications manager Bonnie Mager said the majority were banned for encouraging children to rebel against society, or particular industries.

"It's often been something ridiculous, like asking children to rebel against the forestry industry. It portrays the forestry industry in a negative way."

Mager said the element of mystery intrigued readers, and banning literature made the novel more enticing to readers.

"We actually ran a similar promotion earlier this year called blind date with a book, and people went crazy."

Mager said many libraries overseas ran similar events to encourage readers to reflect on the ban of literature in all cultures.

 - Stuff


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