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Okotoks library commemorating Freedom to Read Week

A banned and controversial books display will be up at the Okotoks Public Library in recognition of the initiative, slated for Feb. 20 to 26.
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Lauren Scappaticci, program and marketing coordinator for the Okotoks Public Library, stands by a display of historically banned books on Feb. 18. Freedom to Read Week is being recognized in Okotoks, Black Diamond and Turner Valley from Feb. 20-26.

The Okotoks Public Library is doing their part to promote literacy, tolerance, knowledge and a love of reading in the community during Freedom to Read Week, set for Feb. 20-26. 

Michelle Toombs, CEO of Marigold Library System, sent a letter to council encouraging them to declare next week Freedom to Read Week to promote intellectual freedom, which they approved unanimously. 

Lauren Scappaticci, program and marketing coordinator at the library, said libraries have a responsibility to protect intellectual freedom and provide patrons with the material to establish their own opinions and perspectives. 

"Freedom to Read Week is just a reminder that we're here to provide a safe and welcoming place for everyone and that means that we'll have a wide variety of views and opinions and education showcased in our collection," she said. "It's up to the individual to create their own opinion and find that information for themselves and that's what intellectual freedom really means." 

She said the library will be putting up a display of books that have raised questions or were banned in certain countries and school curriculum. 

Speech bubbles will be placed on each book explaining why it has been banned as well as the justification made by the person who initiated that process. 

The Canadian Library Association has a list of challenged books on their website, alongside the history of debate. Recognizable titles that made it into that collection include The Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. 

"There's always going to be subjects or topics that some people find uncomfortable or unpopular or taboo, but that doesn't necessarily mean that we'll censor those," Scappaticci said, again emphasizing that consumption is all about personal choice. 

The past few years have been challenging for the library, given the need to suspend in-person programming and move to virtual delivery during the pandemic. Scappaticci said they are looking forward to welcoming patrons back for in-person events in April, pending a continued de-escalation of COVID. 

"A lot of the joy of being in the library environment is to be able to provide programs for the community, that's what we love to do," she said. "It makes the public library a space that's not just for books. It's for learning and discovering things of all kinds." 

Turner Valley and Black Diamond councils also accepted the proclamations for their communities on Wednesday night, however the Sheep River Library is not running any programs for Freedom to Read Week, due to challenges associated with the pandemic. 

For more information about Freedom to Read Week visit and to keep up with the latest news on the Okotoks Public Library visit

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