Witch Ghoul’s For You?

vintage illustration of witch riding a pumpking drawn by bats Image courtesy of the New York Public Library under Creative Commons

I spot the hills
With yellow balls in autumn.
I light the prairie cornfields
Orange and tawny gold clusters
And I am called pumpkins.
On the last of October
When dusk is fallen
Children join hands
And circle around me
Singing ghost songs
And love to the harvest moon;
I am a jack-o’-lantern
With terrible teeth
And the children know
I am fooling.
Theme In Yellow by Carl Sandburg

Halloween is upon us, and whatever your creepy traditions (carving pumpkins, going all out on costumes, scary-movie marathons or telling ghost stories at haunted houses), the UGL is here to help set the mood. The UGL graduate assistants put together a list of a few books and films that would fit into anyone’s Halloween traditions. What are some of your favorite scary flicks and reads? Let us know in the comments!

DVD cover: a ghoulish family poses together

The Addams Family
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, starring Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia, Christina Ricci
This is a classic for Halloween. Based on a cartoon, the film has retained popularity since its 1991 release due in no small part to its playfully macabre characters. Did you know there was even a musical made in 2010 based on this quirky family? Currently, it’s touring in Brazil.




DVD cover: Cary Grant carries a surprised person over his shoulder

Arsenic and Old Lace
Directed by Frank Capra; starring Cary Grant, Priscilla Lane

If horror isn’t your thing, watch this classic film. On Halloween, Mortimer Brewster gets married, discovers a terrible but strangely humorous secret about his beloved aunties, attempts to deal with a cousin who believes he’s Teddy Roosevelt, and tries to force another cousin with a criminal record out of the house. Hilarity ensues.




DVD cover: a spooky house with figures peering out from windowsClue
Directed by Jonathan Lynn, starring Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd
We’ve all seen bad movie adaptations of board games and video games, but Clue is everything it should be: costumes + murder + hilarious dialogue you’ll be quoting for years. Will it be Colonel Mustard with the lead pipe? Mrs. Peacock with the knife? How high will the body count go?




book cover: an empty staircase in shadow.Ghosts Among Us: True Stories of Spirit Encounters
By Leslie Rule
Despite the huge number of horror films and novels available, nothing’s scarier than a real-life ghost story. In Ghosts Among Us, Rule researches reported encounters with the supernatural, which are bolstered with black and white photos of haunted locations. If you’re into more serious research on all things spooky, check out the University’s Mandeville Collection. It’s got info on everything from UFOs to witchcraft and magic. To search for items in the catalog, type “Mandeville Collection” and the choose “Subject” from the drop-down menu. Proceed at your own risk…..


DVD cover: demonic figure with gunHellboy
Directed by Guillermo del Toro; starring Ron Perlman and Selma Blair
Maybe it’s not directly related to Halloween, but Hellboy has got plenty of demons, monsters, and spooks to keep you entertained. If you watch the movie and want still more, why not check out some of the comics as well?




DVD cover: three witches shoot lightning into a full moonHocus Pocus
Directed by Kenny Ortega; starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimi
Clearly the best Halloween movie of all time. Enough said.






book cover: a haunted house with many spooky secrets.I Spy Spooky Night: A Book of Picture Riddles
Photos by Walter Wick, riddles by Jean Marzollo
This fun picture book is part of a series of “find-it” riddles for kids, but the photography is unbelievable! Walter Wick creates a series of eery pictures from miniatures that really makes you feel like you’re roaming through a haunted house. And what better way to take a break from school and gear up for Halloween than playing a kid’s game?




book cover: image of ghostly disintegrating figureScary Stories to Tell in the Dark
By Alvin Schwartz
This is a collection of short stories that have been adapted from folklore and stands out among my best memories of reading as a kid. It is a great book to share during Halloween season. Even today, the original artwork is pretty creepy and beautiful. It’s noted by the American Library Association as the most consistently challenged books in the 1990s, so you know it has to be good!



book cover: Horse with eerily-lit skeleton headSomething Wicked This Way Comes
By Ray Bradbury
The story is about two boys–one born just before midnight on Halloween, the other born just after midnight. The circus has come to town, and there’s something that is just not quite right. The story investigates what it means to be young, to be scared, and it will scare your boots right off. Ray Bradbury presents realistic characters with real wants and needs, and mixes in the horror of a circus gone wrong with a dying summer and the need to escape in the just right way.

Need some more spooktacular recommendations?


Check out the UGL’s Pinterest board Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) for more haunting suggestions!

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Meet our Dog Stars!

In case you’ve missed the brightly colored Pug posters, the “Stall Stories” or our tweets and Facebook posts, therapy dogs are coming to the UGL next week—for real!

Research shows that interaction with dogs reduces stress by decreasing the level of cortisol and increases happiness by releasing endorphins. The Undergraduate Library, partnering with the International and Area Studies Library, will be hosting registered therapy dogs for students to walk, pet and play with as part of our ongoing stress reduction initiatives during midterms and finals. (If you think we’re crazy for letting pooches in with the patrons, read about Yale Law Library’s therapy dog!)

Dogs from the CU Registered Therapy Dog Group will be available in the UGL on Monday, Oct. 29 from 2-5pm and on Tuesday, Oct. 30 from 2-5pm and 7-9pm. We encourage you to come, de-stress, and make a new furry friend. If you’re on Twitter, feel free to tweet about your experience—we’ve even got a hashtag: #UGLBFF. (And while you’re at it, follow us @askundergrad.)

In the mean time, here’s a sneak peek at three of the dogs you can meet:

Two poodles relax on a deck.

Raven, on the left

Raven is a 6-and-a-half-year-old Standard Poodle. She loves people of all ages, but prefers adults since they are the best petters. She does most of her therapy work at libraries (so she’ll fit right in at the UGL!) and at the Urbana Crisis Nursery. When she’s not working, she enjoys fetching frisbees and tennis balls.


Hunny is picture with medals from winning a rally.

Hunny, the rally champ!

Hunny is a 6-year-old Australian Cattle Dog mix adopted from Good Shepherd Humane Society near Eureka Springs, Arkansas. In addition to therapy visits, Hunny trains and competes in Dock Dog and APDT Rally Obedience venues earning a Junior Dock Dog and APDT Rally Championship titles. Hunny is also a canine star of the theater, most recently appearing in S.T.A.G.E. productions of “The Miracle Worker” and “Cranford.” Hunny shares her People and Paw Print Pond with five Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, two Labrador Retrievers, and five rescue cats.


A fluffy Malamute sits in the snow.

Full disclosure: This isn’t Sam, but we’re sure he’s just as handsome as this Alaskan Malamute.

Sam is a 7-year-old Alaskan Malamute. He’s a very calm, large, furry, wolfy-looking dog who is quite content being petted. He has a Three Stooges sort of sense of humor, is very curious, and very typical of the Malamute attitude that anything that happens, he can take care of, so why worry. He also subscribes to the belief that you can never know when you might have to pull a sled, so nap whenever possible. Energetic isn’t an adjective one would use to describe this guy. He is casually obedient, selectively deaf, but utterly charming and sweet. He’s a conformation champion (so he’s quite stunning), loves agility obstacles though he hates to jump, and he isn’t too crazy about do-overs. He suffers from severe test anxiety, so understands what mid-terms can do.

If these dogs look like good cuddle BFFs to you, stop by the UGL on Monday or Tuesday to say hello. Interested in learning more about therapy dogs? Check out Pet Partners (formerly the Delta Society) to learn more about the work that therapy dogs do.


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UGL 101: Ask A Librarian

UGL 101: an introduction

Somewhere, in the deep, dark night, a cry goes out for help. A student has an information need, and they can’t make it to the library to get help. Whatever shall they do? There is tearing of hair and rending of garments. All seems lost, until—what’s this? A tiny, yellow image of a running figure? A prompt inviting visitors to share their needs? Could it possibly be…a chat window that connects students to an actual live librarian in real time? It is! Hurrah! The day is saved!

Ask A Librarian Chat Box:

A beacon of hope.

Okay, so maybe it’s never that dramatic. Most people don’t actually rip their clothes in frustration when they need help. Sometimes, though, you do have a reference or research question that needs answering right away, and you can’t make it to the library to ask our reference librarians for assistance. When that happens, you can use our handy dandy Ask A Librarian services to get the help you need.

You might have seen the Ask A Librarian chat window, pictured above, on the UGL homepage. It also appears, with some minor variations, on the main library gateway page, and on the search results page within many different databases—look for it! No matter where it shows up, and no matter where you’re surfing from (be it home, a coffee shop, up a tree—wherever!) it will connect you to a live librarian who is ready to help you with your question. Just start typing in the message bar where prompted, press enter, and a librarian will respond. From 9 am to midnight Sunday-Thursday, 9am-5:30pm on Friday and 10am-6pm on Saturday, real librarians sit and eagerly await your inquiries. Go ahead and ask them!

Chat boxes may look different on different pages.

The chat box may also look like this. They all work!

If you don’t want to use the chat box we provide on our sites, you can add us on AIM, Yahoo, MSN, or Google Talk, and chat with us that way. Our screen name is the same on all four platforms: askillinois. You can also add the main library to your account; their screen name is askuiuc.

If you’d rather not use IM at all, fear not! We have other ways for you to get in touch with us. For instance, you can also text us! Send your question to 217-686-4361, and we’ll text you back with an answer. Be aware that standard messaging rates apply.

All these options are available to you if you need a librarian and can’t come to the library to ask your question. If you can make it to the library, though, stop by our reference desk and ask us in person! We’re directly in front of you when you enter the main doors, near the circulation desk. You’ll know us by our spiffy blue vests. You can also stop by during Office Hours to get research or writing help—no appointment necessary! Whatever method you prefer—we’ve got you covered.

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Fight the Flu!

Don't let yourself feel like a sick basset hound.

October is halfway over (uh, what?), midterms are almost here (say it ain’t so!), and the semester will be wrapping up before we know it (gulp!). The last thing you need to worry about on top of everything else you have to get done is being sick.

Fortunately, as students, you can get a flu shot from McKinley Health Center (if you want) for FREE! That’s right: free of charge, gratis, zip, zero dollars, cheaper than dirt, etc. And, you don’t even have to make a separate trip to McKinley if you’re already spending all of your precious free time in the UGL studying. This week, on Wednesday, Oct. 17 and Thursday, Oct. 18 from 1:30pm to 4:30pm, you can get your flu shot right in the UGL. McKinley will have a tent set up on the upper level, near the collaboration rooms.

There are several differing opinions on the importance of getting a yearly flu shot, though when living and working in highly communal areas like a university campus, the benefits may outweigh the risks. The Center for Disease Control has a detailed FAQ about the seasonal flu shot if you’re looking for more information.

If you choose to get a vaccination, all you need to do is bring your I-Card to the UGL on Wednesday or Thursday. McKinley staff will be on hand to administer the vaccines. If you can’t make it to McKinely but also think you will miss the dates in the UGL, take a peek at the whole list of McKinley’s flu shot clinics, happening around campus (they’ll also be back in the UGL on Oct. 29).

Flu shot or not, we wish everyone a healthy second half of the semester—after all, whose research and circulation questions are we going to answer if everyone is home sick?


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Office Hours @ the UGL

Research and Writing Help you can Believe in!

It’s that time of year. The leaves are turning orange and red, the sun is setting a little earlier, and you’re getting busier. Papers are getting assigned, projects are almost due, midterms are almost upon us.  Because we want you to rock the socks off all your classes, the UGL is here to help you in any way we can. Starting this month through December 4th, you can visit us for some one-on-one research and writing help during Office Hours @ the UGL.

You always have the option of stopping at the Research Desk or chattin’ us up through IM, but if you need some one-on-one research time away from the noisy traffic of the library, Office Hours is here for you. Every Monday from 2-4 and every Tuesday from 7-9, UGL librarians are waiting in room 291 to answer all your burning research questions. We can help you with any part of your research process, too, whether you’re just getting started, need more sources, or don’t know if the ones you have are credible. Quick question or in-depth research? We’ll help with both. And bonus: Writers Workshop tutors will be there too. So you can come get help with your research and your writing, all in one stop!

The best part? You don’t need to make an appointment. Just stop in and let us know how we can help you. To make sure you get the most out of your visit though, here are a couple tips:

  • First, if you have a specific assignment you’re working on, bring any assignment details you have with you. The more we know about what you have to do, the better we can help!
  • Second, if you’ve done any work on the assignment so far, make sure to tell us, so we can start from the best possible place.

Don’t let your research get the better of you. Visit Office Hours @ the UGL and get help you can believe in!

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Study Break? Grab a comic!

We know you’re hard at work this time of year—as if you weren’t busy enough already, midterms are coming, and papers and projects are mounting up left and right. We see you studying hard in the UGL, and we’re here to support you in all your research needs. In the midst of all that academic frenzy, though, it’s important to do some fun things for yourself, and we can help you with that, too! You might already know about the movies and video games we have available for you to use—but did you know that we also have a huge collection of comics and graphic novels for you to check out? Well, it’s true!

Our librarians love you so much that we work tirelessly to bring you books that we think you’ll enjoy. Last year, this meant bringing in almost 200 new graphic novels to our collection. Not just your average, run-of-the-mill comics, either—we have works from many different countries, in many different languages, as part of our goal of diversity. Many of them are available in English as well as in their original language, be it French, Spanish, Norwegian, Japanese, Chinese, or another. Some of them are pretty rare or obscure and hard to find—but we rounded them up, just for you! Here are a few volumes we think you should have a look at:


book cover: black and white illustration of pointy-faced figurebook cover: comic illustration of figure looking isolated at a social gatheringbook cover: high-contrast illustration of figure in sailing costumebook cover: illustration of young person juxtaposed with skeletonbook cover: small illustration of seated figure in ancient warrior costumeLoco by Pedro Espinosa
This “silent” work (meaning it has no words or dialog) from Spanish artist Pedro Espinosa was originally published serially in the 1980s; now it’s all collected together in one volume. The main character, Loco, silently expresses his concerns about societal, political, and familial issues.




Conventum by Pascal Girard
The horror, the agony, the trials and tribulations of attending a class reunion, and the self-reflection it can cause—in French with simple, charming illustrations by Québécois artist Pascal Girard.




Corto Maltese: The Ballad of the Salt Sea by Hugo Pratt
Originally published in 1967-1969, this was the first story featuring the rogue sailor-adventurer character of Corto Maltese. Though the stories are fictional, the historic periods and places featured were exhaustively researched by creator Hugo Pratt, and Maltese meets fascinating characters from all over the world, real and imagined. Available in English as well as the original Italian.




7 Billion Needles by Nobuaki Tadano
This reimagining of the 1950s science fiction novel Needle tells of a teenage girl in Japan who suddenly finds her body possessed by a extra-terrestrial being, and embroiled in a manhunt for yet another extra-terrestrial being intent on destroying the human race. Exciting stuff!






Goliath by Tom Gauld
The Biblical story of David and Goliath gets retold, this time from the point of view of the giant Goliath. He may actually be more a lover than a fighter, but bureaucracy and politics conspire to push him into his fabled role of antagonist.





If you read all these and you’re still not sated—or if there’s a graphic novel or comic series you’d really love to see on our shelves—you can always suggest a purchase. We’re working on getting more new additions soon, this time focusing on the Middle East, South Asia, and Eastern Europe. If you have any suggestions for graphic novels in that realm, or even outside of it, drop a line to Chris Diaz (cdiaz25@illinois.edu). We look forward to hearing from you and giving you lots of good stuff to read!

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Beware of the Book

In honor of Banned Books Week, the UGL graduate assistants  (you may’ve seen them hanging out at the Research desk with an iPad, waiting to answer your questions) came up with a list of their favorite books that have spent time on various “banned” lists. If you’re looking for a “dangerous” read, here are a few suggestions:


book cover: well-groomed young professional hides behind large letteringChris recommends…
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
American Psycho is a psychological thriller and social satire about vanity, materialism, and obsession. Set in 1980s Manhattan, the book follows the lives of young misanthropic investment bankers and their various transgressions. Upon the novel’s publication in Australia, its sale was restricted to adults (18+ years of age) and was banned outright in Australian states, such as Queensland, for its hyper-realistic scenes of sex and violence. Despite its disturbing content, Ellis’s prose is stylistically superior to most writers I’ve read. Imagine Vladimir Nabokov writing a Stephen King novel.


book cover: expressive drawing of young coupleChristina recommends…
Baby Be-Bop by Francesca Lia Block
Baby Be-Bop is the story of a young man coming to terms with his sexuality through a series of spectral visits from his deceased family members. It’s lyrical and beautiful and asserts that “Any love that is love is right.” It’s been challenged because some people apparently find the notion of teens being gay and confronting violence and prejudice to be “mentally and emotionally damaging;” some people even tried to sue their library, but they lost, of course.



book cover: purple silhouetted figure reads letter in rocking chair

Tad recommends…
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The book is about Celie, who is healing from years of abuse from her father and her husband, “Mister.” The story is told through letters Celie writes to her sister, whom she has always tried to protect from a similar fate. Later, Celie finds that Mister has been hiding the letters her sister writes in return. Her rage and the support she finds in her friend Shug help her to question what it means to be a whole and loving person. The book has been banned and challenged repeatedly, primarily for language, sexual content (including descriptions of lesbian desire, as well as rape and incest), violence, and its depiction of race relations. It was banned from curricula in the Souderton, Pennsylvania, Area School District because it was considered “smut.”


book cover: grotesque figure in snowy landscapeRubayya recommends…
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was banned in 1955 in South African Apartheid for being “objectionable and obscene.” Before this, beginning with the 1910 movie version, the story created controversy upon entering the American public imagination due to its God-like creation of life. Though Frankenstein is generally considered within the genre of horror, and the creation of a living being out of corpses is nothing short of horrific, it is also considered a major work of Gothic literature and science fiction.

Reading it as science fiction, my preferred reading, encourages the reader to ask which is worse: the horror of Victor Frankenstein’s creation or the consequences of its subsequent social abandonment? The world only sees the “monster” as a monster, despite his self-education and promise that he will remove himself from the populated world if only his creator will create for him a companion. Is it worse to give life to a human-like being made out of corpses or to deny it a perfectly reasonable and moral pursuit of happiness? I’ll leave that up to you to decide.


book cover: stark image of bare tree branches and elderly faceZoe recommends…
The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Giver was number 11 on most banned or challenged books from 1990-1999—just as I was reading it and falling in love with the incredible characters and gripping story. The Giver tells the story of a young boy who is chosen to be the receiver of memory—all memory—in a utopian society that shows its true colors as the book progresses. It won a Newberry Medal in 1994 and yet still became one of the most banned books of the decade—perhaps because of the mystery ending, or perhaps because of the dystopian suggestions in the storyline. Yet the novel confronts growing up, overarching societal problems, and friendships that grow apart: things kids experience every day. The Giver is a part of a loose quartet of books, the last of which will be published within the year.


book cover: young person in wizard robe making dramatic gestureRachel recommends…
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling’s massively successful 7-part series depicting the wonderful world of wizardry topped the 100 “most challenged” books list for 2000-2009. Harry Potter, his magical friends and their wide array of adventures (everything from battling dark arts wizards to navigating teenage hormones) are widely credited as inspiring massive amounts of people to pick up books—children, teens and adults alike. However, the books were also heavily challenged on charges they encourage occult practices, discourage Christian religious beliefs and in some cases, promote evil. And though the overall story itself is excellent, it’s the small details Rowling embedded throughout that truly make these books a remarkable feat of imagination.


book cover: illustration of three figure emerging from brick wallLily recommends…
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
My banned pick is an all-time favorite of mine: The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende. The book is a classic of magical realism, following four generations of the same Chilean family through love, loss, and revolutionary upheaval. HotS, although a staple in many high school curricula, has been banned in Spanish and English due to sexually explicit language and some scenes of intense violence and cruelty. But Allende’s stunning character portrayals and the rich history she develops for the Trueba family makes any cringing worth your while. Easily one of the most thought-provoking and fruitful reads of my lifetime.


book image: crest composed of bird holding arrow in its beakHolly recommends…
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
It never fails, if it’s a popular YA series, someone’s not going to like it. The Hunger Games trilogy follows Katniss Everdeen in a futuristic, dystopian world where the rich are surrounded by luxury, the poor are oppressed and starving, and the children are used a pawns to keep the masses subdued. Katniss is chosen to compete in the annual Hunger Games, where 24 children are forced to fight to the death. While battling for her life, she ignites a revolution no one can control. The series has been challenged over the last couple of years because of the books’ violence, sexuality, and language. I’ve read this series at least 3 times, straight through, and love it every time. My favorite things about it are the strong central female character, the sometimes-subtle social critique, and just because Suzanne Collins can tell a dang good story.


book cover: bright green, with image of feet in a pair of shoesAmanda recommends…
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Yes, this book was recently made into a movie. And yes, Emma Watson is in the movie. However, you should read the book anyway. Perks is written in letter form and tells the story of Charlie, an introverted kid who is starting high school and trying to cope with everything that goes along with that period in life. The book has been frequently challenged because it deals with suicide, drug use, homosexuality, and abuse of various sorts. I love Perks because it is a completely honest portrayal of the awkwardness of beginning high school and trying to find your place. And it has great lines like this one: “We accept the love we think we deserve.”


book cover: cartoonish image of skull and crossbonesDan recommends…
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhouse Five tells the story of Billy Pilgrim, a WWII veteran and survivor of the firebombing of Dresden, as he becomes unstuck in time, relives his past, and spends time as an exhibit in an alien zoo. Kurt Vonnegut’s dark comedic portrayal of wartime atrocities, along with sexually explicit content and strong language, have made the book the target of many a book banner, but what they miss is the strong underlying humanity that drives the book. Vonnegut’s novels are a perennial addiction for undergraduate book lovers everywhere, and this is a great place to start.


book cover: sepia image of young person from mid-20th centuryJennie recommends…
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird follows 8-year-old Scout Finch; her brother, Jem; and their father, Atticus as the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, where the novel takes place, is shaken by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman.  When Atticus is called upon to defend the accused, Scout and Jem get caught up in events that are beyond their understanding as they try to make sense of the world they live in.  To Kill a Mockingbird has been banned because it contains profanity and racial slurs and tackles racial themes. In spite of its history as a banned book, I love it because it is a poignant story about growing up, discovering what one believes in, and seeing the humanity in people who are different from us.


book cover: fantastic image of winged creature and disembodied head in bubbleAshley recommends…
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
A Wrinkle in Time was by apparently banned for challenging religious beliefs. This Newberry Award-winning book is strange and incredibly complex. It absolutely blew my mind when I read it as a kid; it’s no less enjoyable and thought-provoking now.

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Banned Books Week: Just Say No to Censorship

FORBIDDEN: theme of banned books week 2012So, this may seem pretty obvious, but here at the UGL, we like books. Like, a lot. In fact, we like them so much, we think you should have access to any book you want—especially for educational and informational purposes. If it’s not at the UGL or one of UIUC’s other libraries, we’ll work to find it for you at another I-Share library or through Interlibrary Loan—or even the public libraries in town. Our Mission Statement (part of the Undergraduate Library Vision, Mission and Core Values) even says ,“The Undergraduate Library will encourage engagement with information and technology in its various forms…”

However, not all people agree that unlimited access to information is a good thing, especially when it comes to children, high schoolers and even some college students. For decades, parents, community groups, school advisory boards and individuals have challenged various books and their places in classrooms and libraries. Claims of exposure to inappropriate material, counter-culture ideas, anti-religious sentiments and explicit language or sexuality have all been raised as reasons to keep students from reading certain books and publications. This isn’t a thing from the past, either… Books are still routinely being challenged and banned today.

While these concerns should be listened to, the more important issue is usually not so much the content, but adults’ inability to discuss the content in an open manner with students and children, so censoring the material becomes easier. Free access to information is an essential mission of libraries, and every year, we celebrate this mission with Banned Books Week, highlighting the books (usually very popular items) that have been challenged, banned or censored throughout the country. The hope is to A) bring awareness to this situation; B) encourage people to read the entire book before they decide it needs to be censored; and C) start conversations between educators/parents and students on the controversial material and issues, rather than sweeping those things under the proverbial rug. (This year, Banned Books Week is Sept. 30-Oct. 6, but we recommend reading any of these titles year round.)

It’s not all doom and gloom, though! Banned Books Week is celebrating its 30th Birthday this year, and according to the American Library Association, it deserves a huge cake:

The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted with removal or restrictions in libraries and schools. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.

Take a minute this week to reflect on some of your favorite books—from childhood, high school, college—it doesn’t matter. Then, check out some of the lists (including challenged classics, lists by decade, and challenged authors) of most commonly banned and challenged books. What you find might surprise you. How many banned books have you read? Tell us in the comments—we’d love to hear from you!

Coming Thursday: A list of the UGL graduate assistant’s favorite banned books.

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