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Despite protest and public comments, metro libraries are committed to intellectual freedom

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Banned Book Display
Mid-Continent Public Library, North Independence Branch
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"A really good library is going to probably have something in it that will offend absolutely everyone," said Steven Potter, director and CEO at Mid-Continent Public Library.

Banned Book Week is an annual celebration meant to highlight intellectual freedom and freedom of expression, but some say the content crosses a line.

September saw two metro public libraries being challenged for displays and books in their locations.

At Mid-Continent Public Library's North Independence branch, a banned books display drew social media criticism including from three members of the library's Board of Trustees.

Similarly, a juvenile sex education book at Cass County Public Library drew attention for what critics say are pornographic images, a claim assistant director and head of public services Dan Brower says is "false."

"That is what banned book week is supposed to do," said Steven Potter, director and CEO of Mid-Continent Public Library.

"It's supposed to highlight that the fact that people have different points of views and different opinions and that people have the freedom to come to the library and to find ideas that support those opinions as well as ideas that challenge those opinions," said Potter.

When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
As Up To Date’s associate producer, I construct daily conversations that give our listeners context to the issues of our time. I strive to provide a platform that holds those in power accountable, while also spotlighting the voices of Kansas City’s creatives and visionaries that may otherwise go unheard. Email me at zach@kcur.org.
Elizabeth Ruiz is a freelance producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact her at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz