Reflections from Franklin Pierce student, Brianna Bourque:
There is a course called Banned Books taught at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, NH. I am a freshman here at the university and I decided to take the course during the school year 2017-2018. During the course, we read approximately a dozen banned books like Lysistrata, Witches, Looking for Alaska, and Fanny Hill. While reading the book, we would discuss the author's intention for creating it, why we think the book was banned, and why we think the story should be kept on the shelves in schools, and libraries. The reason I took the course was to see how society's views of inappropriate book topics have changed over time. After learning what I did in Banned Books, I can say that it was a very challenging and fascinating experience.
An important aspect of the class, that was very challenging, was an individual project called the Library Censorship Report. For this we were required to contact one school library and one public library, and to request that they inform us their book challenging policy, the process if it were to occur, and any history they have of books being banned there. For this assignment, I decided to reach out to my old high school library (Merrimack Valley High School) and the New Hampshire State Library(NHSL). Upon contacting the two libraries via snail mail, I received word that neither had ever received a request to have a book banned, or even challenged. But after speaking with the librarian there, Rebecca Stockbridge, my contact information was then sent to four more people. I soon discovered by speaking with Jessica Gilcreast, the Bedford High School Librarian, that there was a book challenge at Bedford High School many years ago. The book was eventually pulled from the curriculum, but is still available in the school library.
After reading through the minutes and the process it takes to ban a book, I became very appreciative of my ability to read the twelve banned books during my course. I also became very thankful that no books had ever been challenged or banned in my high school, because I would have been missing out on learning opportunities. Through taking the course, I have also become more aware of how often books get banned or challenged in the U.S., and which states it is more likely to happen in. I intend to use this knowledge of book challenges and bans to prevent them so others can continue to learn, and I also would like to continue passing my knowledge of this onto others so they can hopefully prevent bans too.