With Banned Book Week library embraces controversy

San Francisco residents — not exactly an inhibited bunch to begin with — will get a chance soon to further embrace their bad side, albeit in a literary fashion.

Starting on Saturday, the San Francisco Public Library will host a series of events in recognition of Banned Book Week, a national movement created to remind the country about the importance of First Amendment rights.

The weeklong celebration will be highlighted by a lunchtime music and reading performance on Thursday afternoon at the library’s main branch on Larkin Street. A lineup of musicians and writers, including Ben Fong-Torres, Richie Unterberger and Roy Zimmerman, will stage various performances in support of controversial works.

Since 2001, there have been legal challenges to over 3,700 books in American libraries, including movements against novels like the prize-winning “Kite Runner,” which has been adapted for screen and stage, and “Gossip Girl” series of young adult novels, which also have been adapted into a controversial TV series.

“Although in San Francisco we are fortunate to receive few challenges to our materials, it is important to recognize and celebrate this democratic freedom and the diversity of materials available at our libraries,” said City Librarian Luis Herrera. “As our mission statement says, we are dedicated to free and equal access to information and to the joys of reading for our diverse community.”

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