Rise of banned books, consequences and response focus of free talk

Contact: Sara Volmering

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—“Intellectual Freedom and the Rise of Banned Books” is the topic of a free and open lecture at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 7, in Western Michigan University's Kirsch Auditorium at the Fetzer Center.

Dr. Emily Knox, associate professor in School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will share her expertise on intellectual freedom and book bannings at a lecture on Feb. 7.

Dr. Emily Knox, an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will share her expertise on the rise in banned books, the consequences of these campaigns and actions that individuals can take in response.

The event is hosted by Western's Libraries with support from the Midwest Collaborative for Library Services (MCLS). The lecture will be live streamed for attendees outside Kalamazoo, including librarians in Michigan and Indiana. A brief reception will follow the lecture. Register to attend in person or watch the livestream

Increased numbers of book challenges and bans in schools and libraries have made headlines around the United States, including in communities in West Michigan. 

“This topic is extremely relevant for our society today,” says Julie Garrison, dean of University Libraries. “Free speech and intellectual freedom are an ingrained part of our society, yet we have tension when there is information or knowledge that conflicts with our personal views and beliefs.” 

“I’m excited to bring Dr. Knox to Western to share what’s at stake when book bans and challenges become normalized in our communities,” Garrison says.

MCLS Executive Director Scott Garrison adds that “while many have noted how efforts to censor library materials have increased and that libraries can respond with clear, consistent, and vetted policies and practices, Dr. Knox’s work on the ‘why’ of censorship, what it means to read, and how reading influences character development and behavior is quite compelling. Dr. Knox is a respected thought leader on intellectual freedom, and MCLS is pleased to support her visit to our region and this event.”

About Emily Knox

In addition to being an associate professor, Knox prepares librarians and information science professionals to navigate a complex, ever-evolving information landscape.

She has been featured by NPR, “The Washington Post,” “Time” and “Slate” for her expertise in intellectual freedom, censorship and book bannings.

Her book, “Book Banning in 21st Century America” is the first monograph in the Beta Phi Mu Scholars’ Series. Knox recently edited “Trigger Warnings: History, Theory Context” and co-edited “Foundations of Information Ethics.” Her most recent book is “Foundations of Intellectual Freedom.” Knox has been published in The Library Quarterly, Library and Information Science Research, Open Information Science, and Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy.

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