DVD Picks: Banned Books Week

by Terri Robar, Learning & Research Services

This week, from September 27 to October 3, the UM Libraries have been celebrating Banned Books Week. It is a celebration of the triumph of our freedom of expression. The movies on this list are all based on books that we are featuring in our displays in the Richter Library. The captions for each movie include the information on when and where the book was banned or challenged.

The following films are a part of Richter Library’s DVD collection. In addition to the thousands of DVDs spanning comedy, drama, sci-fi, horror, documentary, and other genres, UM Libraries also houses film-related materials such as screenplays, soundtracks, musical scores, and original book titles. Search the catalog to browse music and print resources related to these films.

The book was burned in Alamagordo, New Mexico, in 2001 for being “satanic.” In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him and, though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, still it remained lost to him. After many ages, it fell, by chance, into the hands of the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins.

The book was banned in public schools in Chicago, Illinois, in 2013. In 1970s Iran, Marjane “Marji” Satrapi watches events through her young eyes and her idealistic family. Their long-held dream is realized when the hated Shah is defeated in the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Now ruled by Islamic fundamentalists, Marji grows up to witness first-hand how the new Iran has become a repressive tyranny on its own.

The book was challenged in middle schools in Goffstown, New Hampshire, in 2011. In the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her sister’s place in the televised event in which one boy and one girl from each of the twelve districts are chosen to fight to the death until one victor remains.

The book was banned in high school classrooms in Raceland, Louisiana, in 2008. With exacting detail, the film re-creates the American siege of the Somalian city of Mogadishu in October 1993, when a 45-minute mission turned into a 16-hour ordeal of bloody urban warfare.

The book was challenged in schools in Morganton, North Carolina, in 2008. An uneducated woman living in the rural American south who was raped by her father, deprived of the children she bore him, and forced to marry a brutal man she calls “Mister,” is transformed by the friendship of two remarkable women, acquiring self-worth and the strength to forgive.

The book was challenged in middle schools in Brentwood, Tennessee, in 2006. The setting is a dusty Southern town during the Depression. A white woman accuses a black man of rape. Though he is obviously innocent, the outcome of his trial is such a foregone conclusion that no lawyer will step forward to defend him–except the town’s most distinguished citizen.

The book series holds the record for being the most frequently challenged title in the U.S. for the decade of 2000-2009. Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy with a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The book was banned in high schools in Nampa, Idaho, in 2012. After Tita is forced to make the cake for the wedding of the man she loves and her own sister, the guests are overcome with sadness. Tita has discovered she can do strange things with her cooking.

The book was challenged in public schools in Olathe, Kansas, in 2007. In the Great Depression, George and Lennie, two displaced migrant ranch workers, dream of the autonomy of owning and operating their own ranch someday.

The book was challenged in high schools in Orono, Maine, in 2006. The fascinating true story of a young woman’s life-altering stay at a famous psychiatric hospital in the late 1960s.

The book was banned in high schools in Coventry, Rhode Island, in 2000. Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time. An otherwise typical soldier in WWII, without warning, he jumps back and forth in his life with no control over where he is going next.

The book was challenged in public schools in Lubbock, Texas, in 2008. In a parallel world where witches soar the skies and Ice Bears rule the frozen North, one special girl is destined to hold the fate of the universe in her hands.

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away…


By Lauren Fralinger, Learning & Research Services

In 1977, there was nothing quite like it. A fantasy story with the scale of an epic history, the overtones of a war story told through old news reels and touches of a Western from its saloon brawls and quick-drawing characters.

Star Wars planet Alderaan. User: Yesuitus2001 / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

The opening lines of “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away,” put early audiences in mind of a fairy tale’s promise of “once upon a time”—and Star Wars indeed had all of these fairy tale elements as well.

Set in space and amid a series of exotic worlds and creatures, Star Wars tied together themes and characters that were familiar to audiences, but set in a strikingly complex, futuristic setting in a time when science fiction movies were not unheard of, but rare.

The story of the tyrannical Galactic Empire at war with the upstart Rebellion has not only continued to survive but also has evolved. The original is at the top of the list of highest grossing movies ever, and it has inspired a host other movies with similar characters, settings, themes, and ideas.


Star Wars: Kenobi by John Jackson Miller is one of the more recent literary spin-offs to the series.

The enormous success of the original Star Wars led to sequels continuing to chronicle the adventures of the Rebellion’s heroes as they overthrew the Empire and restored the Republic. Followed in 1980 by The Empire Strikes Back and 1983 by Return of the Jedi, the second and third movies seemed to complete the adventures of the original three heroes—Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, and Han Solo. Fans demanded more, and an expanded universe of books and graphic novels were released detailing the heroes’ further adventures in the galaxy far, far away.

After 1983, the juggernaut that was Star Wars slowed, but never stopped. Rumors of prequels percolated for years, sparked by the Episode V preceding the title of The Empire Strikes Back. In 1999, those rumors became reality, and a prequel trilogy made its way to theaters, telling the story of Darth Vader’s fall to the Dark Side.

Though the prequels were fraught with criticism, their release sparked off a renaissance in Star Wars, bringing in new fans and spurring the creation of new merchandise and stories, ensuring that another generation would grow up familiar with Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, lightsabers, and the Force.


Hot air balloon in Mexico built to resemble Star Wars’ infamous villain. Tomas Castelazo / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

That renaissance is still continuing. On December 16 of this year, Star Wars will once again hit theaters around the world. Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be the first of a new series of sequels, picking up after the end of the original trilogy. Though old heroes such as Luke, Leia, and Han will be returning, new heroes will be introduced, and the saga of Star Wars will continue to grow, thrive, and sweep us off to a galaxy far, far away. Until then, be sure to check out some of UM Libraries’ films and books based on the Star Wars franchise.


Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi



Non-Fiction Books

The Science of Star Wars: An Astrophysicist’s Independent Examination of Space Travel, Aliens, Planets, and Robots as Portrayed in the Star Wars Films and Books by Jeanne Cavelos

The Gospel According to Star Wars: Faith, Hope, and the Force by John McDowell

Finding the Force of the Star Wars Franchise: Fans, Merchandise, and Critics by Matthew Wilhelm Kapell and John Shelton Lawrence

Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination by Ed Rodley

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe: The Past, Present, and Future of a Multibillion Dollar Franchise by Chris Taylor



Fiction Books

Kenobi by John Jackson Miller

Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne

Star Wars: Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn

UM Libraries Celebrates Banned Books Week

by Lauren Fralinger


How often do you think about your right to read? It is often said that words can change the world, whether they’re spoken aloud or written down. The First Amendment recognizes the power of words, enshrining our freedom of speech. But what happens when that speech is challenged? When we’re told we can’t speak out, can’t read words that might challenge our thoughts or give us new ideas?

September 27–October 3 is Banned Books Week, a time of year designated to raise awareness of banned and challenged books, and an opportunity to understand the consequences of censorship.

Banned Books Week was founded in 1982 by Judith Krug in response to the sudden surge of challenged books. Krug, a First Amendment defender and library advocate, strongly opposed censorship. She felt that no one should be restricted from books or ideas, and that readers should have the freedom to develop their own opinions.

In the thirty-three years since Krug began her initiative, there have been more than 11,300 books challenged, according to the American Library Association (ALA). Just last year ALA reported 311 challenges, including John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and David Levithan’s Two Boys Kissing.

If a book is challenged, someone is trying to keep it from the hands of readers. ALA’s Office of Intellectual Property has reported the top three reasons for a challenge are: 1) the material was considered to be sexually explicit, 2) the material was considered to have offensive language, and 3) the material was considered unsuited for any age group.

Challenges by various groups have resulted in books commonly regarded today as classic literature being banned from libraries and schools across the United States: In 1957, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was banned from the Detroit Public Library for “having no value for children of today, supporting negativism, and bringing children’s minds to a cowardly level.”

Other classic works that have been banned include:

  • Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, on the grounds of profanity and racially charged language.
  • J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, described by detractors as a “filthy, filthy book.”
  • First edition copies of Allan Ginsberg’s Howl were seized by the San Francisco customs for obscenity in 1957; however, after a trial the obscenity charges were dropped.
  • John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath was temporarily banned in the in region of California in which it was originally set for “alleged unflattering portrayal of area residents.”
  • The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank, was once banned by an Alabama textbook committee, deeming it a “real downer.”

Banned Books Week at Richter

catcherBanned Books Week highlights these and many other influential works that have endured censorship, bringing together proponents of free speech, librarians, publishers, teachers, and book lovers of all genres.

Come join us for a week-long celebration of free speech and great literature. Look around Richter Library for books that have been challenged or banned, starting with a banned books exhibit on the first floor. Some of the titles may surprise you!

We’re Improving Our Wifi!

Beginning September 22 UMIT will be upgrading Wifi antennas in Richter Library. Please note that though most of this work will be taking place prior to the library opening there may be occasional noise and disruption intermittently throughout the week. Please visit the Information Desk if you need assistance locating a quiet study space.

We apologize for any inconvenience as we work to make this essential improvement.

Save the Date: Upcoming Events at UM Libraries


The University of Miami Libraries are hosting and co-presenting several events this fall and in the coming year. Please mark your calendars and join us for what promises to be a series of stimulating talks and presentations.

September 24, 2015 | Book Traces

9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. | Otto G. Richter Library
Join in the search for unique library books! The UM Libraries are hosting an event for readers and book enthusiasts in the community to help locate some of the many old books with original reader markings—from pencilled notes to hand drawn maps to sketches in the margins—that are housed at Richter Library. The customizations, known as marginalia, are the focus of a national library initiative started at the University of Virginia to preserve information about unique copies of library books in the wake of wide-scale digitization. In addition to hosting an exciting search for marginalia in UM Libraries collections with assistance provided by librarians, the event will feature the following presentations:

Book Traces and the Technology of Memory
Andrew Stauffer, Founder of Book Traces, University of Virginia
11:30 a.m., 3rd Floor Conference Room

A Delicate Balance: How Functionality, Artifactual Evidence, and Resource Allocation Affect Preservation Decision-making
Kara McClurken, Principal Investigator on the Book Traces grant, University of Virginia
4 p.m., 3rd Floor Conference Room


October 28, 2015 | MEET the Ghostly Treasures of Special Collections

7 p.m. | Special Collections, Otto G. Richter Library
Special Collections will highlight a series of spooky, mysterious, and otherworldly texts from its rare and distinctive collections for the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami’s October ICA MEETS event. As Halloween draws nigh, guests will learn about and explore rare books, manuscripts, photos, and ephemera culled from the thousands of historical books and documents related to spiritualism, the occult, and UFOs from the collections of Jackie Gleason and others. Special Collections is located on the 8th floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.

November 19, 2015 | Quince Sellos Cubanos Reception

6:30 p.m. | Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion, Otto G. Richter Library
Join us for a reception and conversation with artist María Martínez-Cañas highlighting her exhibition, a portfolio of 15 gelatin silver prints now on view at the library along with the original Cuban stamps that inspired her work. Exploring themes of history, memory, and identity, the limited-edition series was donated to the Cuban Heritage Collection by Alan Gordich in 2014. The exhibition will remain on view through December 2015.

January 14, 2016 | Arva Moore Parks Presents George Merrick, Son of the South Wind

6:30 p.m. | Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion, Otto G. Richter Library
As UM kicks off the 90th anniversary celebrations in 2016, Miami historian and University trustee Arva Moore Parks will present her latest book on Coral Gables’ founder and UM visionary George Merrick. Parks’ presentation at the library, co-sponsored by Books & Books, is in conjunction with the official opening of The Pan American University: The Original Spirit of the U Lives On, an exhibition of historical materials from the Libraries’ unique and distinctive collections reflecting the University’s enduring connection to Latin America and the Caribbean.


Featured events are free and open to the public. For more information or to RSVP, please contact richterevents@miami.edu or call 305-284-4026.

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