Welcome to a world in which leaders are stripping you of your right to think freely. Books are being pulled from public and school library shelves and are being kept out of bookstores or off book-reading hardware because of “inappropriate” content.
Governments, school administrations, misguided politicians and community and corporate leaders, seeking to “protect” people from ideas that make them uncomfortable are banning books. Yes, still. Now. Today.
This week is Banned Books Week. The people on the front line fighting war to maintain your freedom to read whatever you want are Librarians.
The American Library Association has a list of Graphic Novels that are banned and/or challenged repeatedly. You’ll see that most are GNs for adults that are misguidedly assumed to be for children, but in many cases are objected to simply because they portray sex or death at all – heaven help us all if it’s gay sex.
Librarians are fighting in many ways to make sure you can make your own decisions and maintain your privacy.
In Honor of Banned Books Week and even more so, in honor of Librarians, here are some manga and anime “Armed Librarians.”
Library Wars is a story about a young woman who joins the Librarian military force to fight government censorship. The version of this story published in English is as much romance as it is military escapades, but the story could be real. And if Librarians ever started a military force to protect freedom to read, as old and out of shape as I am, I’d jump to serve in any capacity. A seinen version of this story (which is not substantially different in any way) ran in Dengeki Daioh magazine. Two volumes of the shoujo version are out in English.
The Library of Bantorra stores the world’s history in the form of stone books that contain people’s memories within them. Protecting people’s access to those stories are extraordinary people with amazing powers, the “Armed Librarians.” The Book of Bantorra anime is still available for free, legally on Crunchyroll. The 10-book Light Novel series begins here Tatakau Shisho: Koi Suru Bakudan. (Japanese.)
But far more important than fictitious fighting librarians, there’s your local library and the Librarians that, without you knowing (or caring,) are doing their absolute best with just about nothing. Stop by your local library – thank them for their efforts, donate some money to their “Friends of” foundations, donate books, donate manga, donate time…all of it will be appreciated. They need all the help they can get in this fight. That means putting aside the typical fan negativity. “Oh, *my* library sucks.” Really? Can you take out 1984, or get Well of Loneliness on loan from another library? Is there a Graphics Novel section – no matter how small? Are there books you can take out? Then, no, your library doesn’t suck. Don’t whine about what they don’t have, because what they don’t have is time, staff and above all, they don’t have enough money. HELP them. They are fighting for you. Take a second and help fight for them.
Once more I want to sing the praise of my local library, The Morris County Library and the entire MAIN library system, for being shining examples of doing amazing things with less than nothing. (For those of you who are unaware, the governor of my state has basically cut the budgets of schools and libraries to, in most cases, all but zero and in some cases, zero. He is a man who does not value reading, math, science or, clearly, thinking.) I have been donating manga to the library and am planning on taking pictures of the GN shelves at all the libraries in the system that have them for a future article here. I got the volumes of Afterschool Nightmare I reviewed for the MMF through the system from the library I spent much of my childhood hours at. It was very nostalgic walking in there to pick them up.
Read a Banned Book. Think for Yourself. Support Your Library.
We all have to work together on this now or, one day soon, we won’t have the choice at all.