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KU Libraries host lecture on the issues of book banning

Monday, March 6, 2017

The University of Kansas Libraries will host a lecture on the issues of book banning from public school libraries featuring Dr. Steven Case, associate professor and director of the Center for STEM Learning at KU. The program will be held at 4 p.m. on April 5 in Watson Three West.

KU Libraries Dean Kevin L. Smith will open the program with perspective on the legal issues surrounding censorship, and Case will present “Annie is Still on My Mind: Lessons on censoring critical thinking.” A brief question and answer session will follow the lecture.

Case has experience with public censorship of books. While working as a teacher in a local school district in 1993, the district superintendent announced the removal of “Annie on My Mind,” a coming of age novel for young adults, from the school libraries. A group of plaintiffs, including students, parents and a teacher, Case, supported by the American Civil Liberties Union and a local law firm, Shook, Hardy and Bacon, sued the school district, the superintendent and the principal of one of the high schools.

“We were successful in returning the book,” explained Case. “However, the success came with many difficult lessons that are still relevant today. I’ve spent my career in education committed to advocating for accessible books, the facilitation of critical thinking and fighting censorship of ideas, literature and learning.”

In his lecture, Case will tell the story of the lawsuit and its continued relevance in today’s educational environment. “By sharing what we learned some 20 years ago, I am confident that others will become educated about the damage to learning caused by banning books and the censorship of creative works,” said Case. The event is free and open to the public.

“Intellectual freedom – the unfettered ability for each person to receive the information they need and to engage critically with that information – is a core value for libraries,” said Smith, who earned a J.D. from Capital University Law School. “Without it, our work would always be subject to arbitrary and capricious interference from many directions, and democracy would suffer. The struggle exemplified by Dr. Case and many other courageous individuals is therefore vital to both libraries and to citizenship itself.”

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