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Robert E. Kennedy Library is supporting Banned Books Week for the fourth time through a display. “We use the week to bring to light that books are still being censored, and that we want people to stand up against that,” Banned Books Week team leader Kristen Thorp said.

Brenna Swanston

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Robert E. Kennedy Library is tipping its hat this week to Banned Books Week by hosting a display of anti-censorship art.

Banned Books Week team leader Kristen Thorp said the art display will take over the first floor of Kennedy Library. In the spirit of Banned Books Week, the exhibit aims to raise awareness about censorship in modern society.

“We use the week to bring to light that books are still being censored, and that we want people to stand up against that,” she said.

When a community member challenges a book and attempts to remove it from a public shelf, the book becomes a banned book, Thorp said. Most often, institutions ban books on the basis of inappropriate content.

Banned Books Week is a national campaign against the removal of books from public institutions, Thorp said. This is Kennedy Library’s fourth year supporting the movement.

“It’s unique for academic libraries to get involved,” she said. “But more are doing it now than ever before.”

Kennedy Library’s art display features pieces from the library’s collection of comic book art by Michael Moore. It will also include Cal Poly students’ art.

Student contributions will come from graphic communication students who partnered with the library on the project. One such student artist is graphic communication senior Matt Rice, who works as a graphic design student assistant at Library Information Technology.

Rice said he helped design buttons, posters and other pieces to help advertise Banned Books Week. The designs drew inspiration from pre-existing materials, including photos of recognizable authors such as J.K. Rowling, whose books have been banned in some public institutions.

“There was very little original art,” Rice said of his work, “but lots of piecing together into cohesive designs.”

For Rice, his work was more than just a project — it became a personal, educational experience about censorship, he said.

“As I did more research into the nature of censorship in literature, particularly in the academic setting, I realized what a great thing Banned Books Week is,” he said. “The way I see it, Banned Books Week encourages not just reading books, but free thinking and inspiration.”

The library’s communications and public programs coordinator Karen Lauritsen said she expects the art display will be effective in raising awareness about banned books.

“I am particularly excited when artists collaborate,” Lauritsen said. “There have been different places, including Cal Poly, where the emphasis is really on making something beautiful. Because I think that really tells the story.”

Banned Books Week began Sunday and continues through Saturday.

A previous version of this story said the library’s comic book collection was by Alan Moore, though it is actually by Michael Moore.

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