- by Mount Saint Mary College

The Banned Books Symposium, a virtual event that is free and open to the public, will take place Saturday, March 5 from 9 a.m. to noon.

The symposium is cosponsored by Mount Saint Mary College's Kaplan Family Library; the Ramapo Catskill Library System; the Southeastern N.Y. Library Resources Council; and the School Library Systems of Dutchess, Orange-Ulster, Sullivan, and Ulster.

This symposium will feature presentations on banned, challenged, or controversial books, and will feature a keynote presentation by John Piche, Outreach Librarian for Heights Libraries in Cleveland, Ohio.

To register, or for more info, visit

Program schedule

  • 9 a.m.: Welcome and introductions
  • 9:05 a.m.: Keynote: "Defending Discussions: The 1619 Project"
  • 10:15 a.m.: Concurrent breakout sessions, including "Getting Comfortable with the Uncomfortable" by Alexis McBride, assistant professor of Education at Mount Saint Mary College
  • 11 a.m.: ALA Presentation: Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom: "The Best Defense"

Keynote description
New York Times Magazine's "The 1619 Project," published in August 2019, almost immediately generated strong opinions. Praise was followed by strong criticism​, because the 1619 Project sought to reframe the legacy of slavery as the dominant factor in American political, cultural, and social spheres. After many customers expressed interest in the Project, Heights Libraries launched a 1619 Project Discussion group. The program became one of the Library's most popular programs, ​and just ​like the 1619 Project itself, the program ​faced a ​wide variety of challenges. ​From Letters to the Editor and social media campaigns calling for the end of the program, to managing unexpected turnout and program logistics, John Piche will discuss these issues and how they were resolved.


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