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A Message From the Director: Banned Books Week 2023

Posted about 9 months ago by Scott Firestine

The Richmond Public Library (RPL) stands firmly against censorship and in support of the freedom to read. We celebrate Banned Books Week, which is held every year from October 1-7, to affirm our belief that everyone has the right to access information and ideas, even those that may be unpopular or controversial.

This year, books are being banned and challenged in libraries and schools across the country and nearby locally in Virginia. These challenges are often based on the personal beliefs of a few individuals who invoke fear, misinformation, and sometimes boldface lies. This is the definition of tyranny. It has a chilling effect on free speech and intellectual freedom.

At RPL, we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to read and learn about different perspectives, even those that they disagree with. We believe that censorship is a dangerous and harmful practice that undermines our democracy and corrodes freedom.

During Banned Books Week, we encourage everyone to visit their local library and check out a banned book. We also encourage you to speak out against censorship and to defend your right to read.

Here are some ways you can support Banned Books Week:

  • Check out a banned book. Your local library will likely have a display of banned books during Banned Books Week. Take some time to browse the display and check out a book that you’re interested in reading.
  • Speak out against censorship. Let your elected officials know that you support the freedom to read and that you oppose censorship. Write to your local newspaper or speak out on social media. Don’t let oppressive political forces take your liberty and right to be informed, enriched and empowered.

At RPL, we are committed to providing access to information and ideas for all members of our community. We believe that libraries play a vital role in our democracy by providing a safe and welcoming space for all people to learn and grow.

Scott Firestine

Scott Firestine became the Director of Richmond Public Library in May 2016. He has over 25 years of professional experience in libraries. He is very proud to lead Richmond Public Library into the future. Prior to being Richmond’s seventh City Librarian in its 100 year history, he was the Director of Appomattox Regional Library System which serves the City of Hopewell, County of Prince George and County of Dinwiddie, Virginia. Mr. Firestine began his career in public libraries at Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1991. There he spent 10 years and worked in most every area of that system before moving to Virginia to be the Assistant Director for Appomattox Regional. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Wabash College and a Master’s of Library Science from Indiana University School of Library and Information Science. Mr. Firestine was awarded the Virginia Public Library Director’s Libby Lewis Award for the library director who “Most embodies the qualities of enthusiasm, nurturing spirit, and love of libraries.” Currently he is the President of the River City Rotary, Secretary and Treasurer of the Hopewell Beacon Theatre in Hopewell, Virginia. Service to children and young adults is his greatest passion. This grew from the work he did with Hopewell/Prince George Chapter of Virginia’s Smart Beginnings. His personal professional philosophy is open access for all to inform, enrich and empower.

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