Public Library celebrates Art Spiegelman’s ‘Maus’ during Banned Books Week 2023

MOUNT VERNON — Banned Books Week is observed each year by by libraries across the nation, and the 2023 theme is “Let Freedom Read!”

Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County Banned Books Week Co-Chair Alyssa Gomez-Lawrence reminds Library patrons that, “Taking away our freedom to read is the equivalent of taking away our fundamental human right to freely think. My freedom to read, is your freedom to read, is their freedom to read. We must protect our collective freedom.” 

The Library launched Banned Books Week 2023 with a community read and book giveaway of Art Speigelman’s classic, Maus. While Maus has been classified as a “graphic novel” — in common parlance known simply as “comics” — Maus tells the true story of Speigelman’s own parents struggle to survive the Holocaust. Spiegelman documents his parents’ World War II survival stories in a stunning visual narrative that portrays the Jews as mice, and their Nazi tormenters as cats. “We chose Maus for a number of reasons,” says Jamie Lyn Smith-Fletcher, Library Deputy Director of Development, Special Projects, and Writing Programs. “As witnesses and survivors of World War II pass away, we’re losing a collective memory of one of the most horrific events in human history: the Holocaust. The Nazis stirred up populist anger by targeting Jews and “homosexuals” as scapegoats– expanding their list of enemies to include the Roma, dissidents, intellectuals, educators, and artists– and by burning books that Nazis disagreed with. It’s important to remember what hatred is capable of, and that we must never allow this to happen again. Maus tells part of that story in very human, unforgettable ways through art and writing.” Maus is appropriate for readers age 10 and older, and copies are available at the Main Library and the Kenyon College Bookstore while supplies last.

Banned Books Week is a local collaboration. The Annex, Gund Gallery’s new downtown gallery and community space, is hosting two events. Kenyon College Office for Community Partnerships co-sponsored this year’s book giveaway by providing over 100 free copies of Maus. PEN America serves as a media sponsor for this year’s panel discussion. 

Banned Books Week Events

  • “Maus and Banned Books Week: Adult Book Discussion” with Librarian Christie. Tuesday, October 3rd, 12 noon- 1:00 pm at the Main Library, 201 N. Mulberry Street, Mount Vernon. Patrons who register by noon on Friday, September 29th at https://tinyurl.com/2xnbt4en will receive a complimentary box luncheon. Attendees are also welcome to attend and bring their own lunch. 
  • Let Freedom Read! Book Tasting” Saturday, October 7th, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm in the Main Library Solarium,  201 N. Mulberry Street, Mount Vernon. 
  • “Countering Book Bans Workshop” led by Banned Books Week Co-Chair Debbie Nabubwaya Chambers. Saturday, October 7th, 10:00am – 11:00am in the Main Library Multipurpose Room. 201 N. Mulberry Street, Mount Vernon. 
  • “Teen Comics Drawing Workshop” with Bentley Boyd, Saturday, October 7th, 11:00 am – 12:00 noon at The Annex, 12 East Gambier Street, Mount Vernon. All young creatives under age 19 are welcome. Learn how to draw your own comics!
  • “Maus, Book Bans and the First Amendment” Panel Discussion with special guests Lee Chambers, Jeff Gottke, Lois Hanson, David H. Lynn, and Library Director John K. Chidester. Saturday, October 7, 1:00 pm – 2:00pm at the Main Library Multipurpose Room, 201 N. Mulberry Street, Mount Vernon. Moderated by Banned Books Week Co-Chair Alyssa Gomez-Lawrence. 
  • “Comics Drawing Workshop” with Bentley Boyd, Saturday, October 7th, 2:00pm -3:00pm at The Annex, 12 East Gambier Street, Mount Vernon. Aspiring artists of all ages are invited to this session, where participants will learn to draw dynamic comics.  

Banned Books Week is sponsored by a coalition of organizations dedicated to free expression, including the American Library Association, American Booksellers for Free Expression, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of University Presses, Authors Guild, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Freedom to Read Foundation, the National Book Foundation, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, PEN America, People For the American Way Foundation, PFLAG, and Unite Against Book Bans. It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.
All Library events are free and open to the public. Unless otherwise noted, registration is not required. For more information, visit www.knox.net, email knoxwrites1@gmail.com, or call (740) 392-BOOK ext. 259.

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