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Colorado town bans book bans

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The Wellington, Colorado governing board voted last week in favor of a resolution that prevents the board from restricting access to materials at the town’s public library.

The debate around whether to restrict access to books deemed obscene — a debate that has been ongoing in America since the colonial era — has recently been reignited.

So far in 2022, there have been attempts to ban or restrict access to 1,651 different titles, according to the American Library Association (ALA). That number is up from 1,597 books in 2021, the year with the highest number of complaints since the ALA began documenting book challenges more than 20 years ago.

In Wellington, residents expressed concern over the "sexual content" in a list of books available in the Wellington Public Library, writes the Coloradoan. One resident submitted a list of books to the town’s board that included titles like E.L. James' "Fifty Shades of Grey," Stephen Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" and Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye."

Some residents asked the board for a book ban. The resident who submitted the book list told the board that she did not want to ban the books, but instead wanted the library to “implement more restrictions so that children could not access the books without a parent's permission,” according to the Coloradoan.

According to the local newspaper, an overwhelming majority of residents at last week’s board meeting made public comments in favor of the resolution that effectively bans any book ban at the library.

The resolution the town board passed defines the Wellington Public Library's mission "to serve and reflect every member of our community in an enlightened, democratic, and unified approach." The resolution also stipulates that the board cannot "censor, suppress, remove, monitor or place age restrictions on ideas or information in our public library."

Wellington Library staff noted to the Coloradoan that the library does impose some age restrictions. Library users must be at least 12 years old to sign up for a library card, and anyone under the age of 18 must have a parent’s signature to receive a library card.

Every year, the ALA celebrates Banned Books Week, an annual awareness campaign that draws attention to banned and challenged books. This year’s Banned Books Week takes places September 18-24. The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression also maintains an active catalogue of commonly banned books.

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