Image Credit: Yoli Bergstrom-Lynch
Books are dangerous things. They can open new worlds and share perspectives that you may not have considered before. The power of books makes some people uncomfortable, and they sometimes seek to limit access to books they deem objectionable. Librarians believe people have the right to read anything. Every year since 1982 the American Library Association has reaffirmed the library community's commitment to intellectual freedom and the right to read by celebrating Banned Books Week. During this week librarians highlight books that have either been challenged by people seeking to have a book removed from a library due to offensive content, or been banned after a successful challenge. In the U.S. that doesn’t make it illegal to read the book, but it can make it difficult for someone to find or access the book. In this guide you will find books in the Trinity collection that have been subject to challenges* and bans* somewhere in the world.
Although regulating and restricting access to printed books is as old as print itself, in the U.S. it has taken on a distinctive character. Increasingly the most frequently challenged books in public schools and libraries are those written by BIPOC and LGBTQ authors or that feature associated content. This is true as well in the prison system where restrictions on reading are often both more extensive and less contestable than in the larger society.
While the Trinity Library is committed to intellectual freedom, we acknowledge that sometimes we’ve been complicit in limiting the viewpoints available in our collection. Some books listed here have been added recently in an attempt to broaden the collection. If you have a book you think the library should have in its collection, let us know.
Terms and definitions
Regulating or restricting access to printed books is as old as print itself. Indeed, it is fair to say that the phenomenon of censorship grew in intensity and in proportion to the growth and spread of printing throughout Europe. As the output of the presses increased, governments and other powerful bodies increasingly sought to regulate what could be printed and read, something they had not felt the need to do as strenuously in the era before print. This restriction on printing took many forms. Initially, it involved the bureaucratic control of who could print books and the licensing of what books could be printed by submitting them to the approval of official censors. However, the international trade in and circulation of books—as well as the growth of illicit printing within countries—also led to the creation of indexes of prohibited materials as well as to their occasional confiscation and destruction.
The books featured here represent just a small selection of those held by Watkinson that have been challenged or banned throughout history.
Trinity College Library Media DVD (Level 1) PN1997 .V4835 2014
The colorful, electrifying romance that took the Cannes Film Festival by storm courageously dives into a young woman's experiences of first love and sexual awakening. Blue is the Warmest Color stars the remarkable newcomer Adèle Exarchopoulos as a high schooler who, much to her own surprise, plunges into a thrilling relationship with a female twentysomething art student, played by Léa Seydoux. Directed by Adbellatif Kechiche, this finely detailed, intimate epic sensitively renders the erotic abandon of youth. It has captivated international audiences and been widely embraced as a defining love story for the new century.
Trinity College Library Media DVD (Level 1) PN1997 .C655 2007
"Being the adventures of a young man who couldn't resist pretty girls, or a bit of the old ultra-violence, who went to jail, was re-conditioned, and came out a different young man. Or was he?" So might opine your humble narrator, Alex. Alex and his droogs Georgie, Dim, and Pete are bored. Alex loves Ludwig van, milk bars, and mayhem. One night a botched burglary ends in murder. Apprehended by the police, Alex is tried, sentenced, and sent to prison for fourteen years. Two years into his sentence, he signs up for The Ludovico Treatment, and is released as cured. However, the world is a harsh and violent place, and now Alex is unable to defend himself. O my brothers, what will happen to poor Alex now?
Trinity College Library Media DVD (Level 1) PN1997 .D4973 2009
Back in the 1980s, a giant spacecraft stalled in the skies over Johannesburg. 1.8 million of the aliens that were aboard were rescued, and placed in a refugee camp-- District 9. Over the next 20 years, District 9 became a teeming shantytown like so many others in the developing world. Although there is evidence that the extraterrestrials represent an advanced civilization, their lives on Earth are marked by squalor, dysfunction, and xenophobic hostility. Now, the mass eviction of the aliens is due to commence, overseen by the military/corporate entity MultiNational United. Middle manager Wikus Van De Merwe finds himself in charge, and cannot believe the good luck of his sudden promotion, until events spin out of control, and he realizes he is little more than a pawn in a horrific multinational/intergalactic experiment.
Trinity College Library Media DVD (Level 1) PN1997 .C73 2006
"Crash" tells interlocking stories of whites, blacks, Latinos, Koreans, Iranians, cops and criminals, the rich and the poor, the powerful and powerless, crashing against one another other like pinballs in contemporary Los Angeles. They are all defined in one way or another by racism, all victims of it, all guilty of it. The way they all leap to conclusions based on race ensures that they will learn things--mostly about themselves--and pay a price for that knowledge. In the end, they are better people because of what has happened to them. Not happier, not calmer, not even wiser, but better.
Trinity College Library Media DVD (Level 1) PN1997 .B35 1999
This tale spans 50 years--from 1925 to 1977--a story at once that of individuals and of the history of China. Two young orphan boys are in the Peking Opera's perfectionist training academy. Eventually, Dieyi is assigned the role of the concubine in the famous traditional opera of the film's title, while Xiaolou will play the king. They are locked into these roles onstage, while their personal relationship somehow survives the upheavals of World War II, the communist takeover of China and the Cultural Revolution. Dieyi is livid when Xiaolou marries Juxian, who spends her life at the mercy of two men whose work together has defined their individual personalities.
Trinity College Library Media DVD (Level 1) PN1997 .S3133 2004
The story of a Catholic war profiteer, Oskar Schindler, who risked his life and went bankrupt in order to save more than 1,000 Jews from certain death in concentration camps. He employed Jews in his crockery factory manufacturing goods for the German army. At the same time he tries to stay solvent with the help of a Jewish accountant and negotiates business with a vicious Nazi commandant who enjoys shooting Jews as target practice from the balcony of his villa that overlooks the prison camp he commands.