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Two Des Moines Public Library locations are planning a “Banned Books Read In” event for Sept. 25. The events are taking place at the Central Library and Franklin Avenue Library. They will take place all day and are labeled as “children and teen” events.

According to the Franklin Avenue Library’s website, the event details are:

“Banned books week is October 1-7, and we’re celebrating your freedom to read! School is out, so come in any time during the day. There will be activities available in the children’s area and you might even win a prize! We’ll also have frequently challenged books available if you’d like to sit and read for a while. This is a drop-in program. Feel free to come whenever it works for you!”

There’s a disclaimer on the event page that states children under 10 years old must be accompanied by a caregiver over 12 years old.

According to the Central Library’s website, additional details are writing a postcard to an author, making some blackout poetry, trying a banned books mad lib and more.

The Iowa Standard reached out to Tim Paluch, the marketing and communications supervisor for Des Moines Public Library, to ask a few questions.

Paluch said there are no “set books” that will be featured, but noted librarians and staff will create a display the day before or the morning of the event by walking around the stacks and seeing what books are on “recently challenged” lists.

“This is not a full staff-led event; just a passive table(s) where kids/teens/families can show up, do a craft, make a button and check out those books (or stay and read them),” Paluch said.

The banned books mad libs are not fully finalized as staff is working on them this week, he added. He said he believes the mad libs come from the American Library Association toolkits/downloadable materials. He attached these as examples:

We also asked Paluch what the library’s purpose is behind the event. He said the Des Moines Public Library supports the “freedom to read” and “celebrates” Banned Books Week each year.

“DMPL has a long, strong legacy of protecting that freedom, as the National Library Bill of Rights was drafted at our library in 1938 by then-Director Forrest Spaulding, and was soon after adopted by the American Library Association,” he said. “The Library Bill of Rights is a fundamental document for our library and public libraries nationwide, and our job and role in the community is to provide information and materials to all people.”

In addition to the “passive drop-in events,” DMPL is hosting a community panel at the Banned Books Festival on Saturday, Oct. 7.

We also asked how the library decided to allow children under 10 to participate as long as they’re accompanied by a caregiver who is 12 years old and not 14, 16 or 18 years old.

“That is boilerplate language per approved library policy,” Paluch said. “When someone creates a program for our calendar on the website back-end, if they check hte box that marks it a KIDS event, that language is attached to the event page online automatically. There’s nothing unique about that sentence here; that age range and language is library policy for youth under 10 in the library.”




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