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Controversial books not banned; instead Washoe County libraries stock up

Controversial books not banned; instead Washoe County libraries stocks up (SBG)

Readers find some books in the library controversial and offensive. So libraries in different parts of the country ban them.

But staff at the Washoe County Library not only welcome controversial books, they're stocking up on them.

"Our favorite materials are things that others may find offensive," said Debi Stears, Washoe County Resources Librarian.

Almost every book you read in high school has been on the banned book list at some point. It's a list of the most challenged books that comes out every September, released by the American Library Association.

Books that have made the list include George Orwell's 70-year old novel "1984," with critics calling it "pro-communist."

"Catching Fire," the second novel in the Hunger Games series, was challenged for violence. The most recent controversial book, "13 Reasons Why," is accused of glorifying suicide.

Someone even complained about The Bible.

But Washoe County continues to offer books banned elsewhere.

"We celebrate the banned list. Every year we look for the opportunity to remind folks, the First Amendment, freedom of speech is so important in our culture and it's one of the things that makes the United States such a great place to live," Stears said.

Amanda McDaniel and her daughter, 5-year-old Rowan, don't miss an opportunity to read books at the library.

"Oh my gosh, incredibly important. We come to the library every week," she said.

McDaniel is very cautious about what she lets her kids check out.

"As a parent I think, yeah, we probably need to censor some of what our kids are reading until they're older," McDaniel said.

But she thinks parents should be the filter, not the government.

"Don't tell me there's a book I'm not allowed to read or they're not allowed to read. We'll make that decision," she said.

The library is filled with racy books, politically charged books on both sides of the isle and just overall controversial material. Whatever the topic, whatever the controversy, the library wants to provide all view points and staff say they know the importance of free speech.

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