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Westwood Library leads Freedom to Read Marathon

Participants to read aloud from banned, challenged books

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Kirsten Wurmann (right) and library assistant Britt Embry will be participating in the Freedom to Read Marathon on Feb. 28.

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Kirsten Wurmann (right) and library assistant Britt Embry will be participating in the Freedom to Read Marathon on Feb. 28. Photo Store

Books that have been banned or challenged over the years will have their pages read in defiance of both old and present-day attitudes opposing them.

Westwood Library, located at 66 Allard Ave., is holding its second annual Freedom to Read Marathon on Feb. 28 from 1 to 4 p.m. in honour of Freedom to Read Week (Feb. 23 to Mar. 1).

According to the Freedom to Read Week’s website, the week is "an annual event that encourages Canadians to think about and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom, which is guaranteed them under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms".

To exercise those rights, Westwood Library branch head Kirsten Wurmann is inviting Winnipeggers to attend the Freedom to Read Marathon to read aloud from banned or challenged books.

The free event is three hours long, but people can come and go throughout the afternoon as they please.

"A lot of the focus is on challenged and banned books, because people do challenge books in schools and libraries, so it’s to remind ourselves that this does happen and we do have the freedom (to read what we want)," Wurmann said.

Those interested in reading aloud at the event can sign up for a time slot by calling Wurmann at 204-986-4742.

There will be a cart of books set up for people to browse through and select for reading. Wurmann said certain sections will be bookmarked to explain why the work was banned or challenged.

"For example, Harry Potter has been challenged repeatedly so we have a little bookmark that explains when and where it happened," Wurmann elaborated, noting that The Hunger Games, The Diviners, and Catcher in the Rye are also in the pile.

When readers sign up for a time slot, they’re expected to only read for a short period of time from a section of a book.

"We also have staff reading aloud during that time. It’s a symbolic gesture and also a little bit of fun too," Wurmann said. "Libraries have the responsibility to maintain the right to read, view, hear, express any idea on any subject."

The Millennium Library (251 Donald St.) will also be celebrating Freedom to Read Week by having a Freedom of Expression Day on Mar. 1.

"(The library) will invite different writers to talk about the ways that free expression has been challenged, and some of them will be reading from challenged books as well," Wurmann explained.

Writers expected to be in attendance include Al Rae, David Camfield, and Nick Christie.
For more information about Freedom to Read Week, visit freedomtoread.ca

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