Like Ray Bradbury’s book "Fahrenheit 451," Butte librarian Shari Curtis says the recent movement to silence and remove books telling stories about minority communities is getting closer to that dystopian world.
"It’s very, very important that people be able to find voices and see themselves in books and in library collections," said Curtis.
Across the United States, complaints have been filed to ban books detailing the struggles and experiences faced by people of color and the LGBTQ community.
Books like Toni Morrison’s "Beloved" and Maia Kobabe’s "GenderQueer" are at the forefront of challenges in states like Georgia and, recently, the ImagineIF library system in Flathead County.
Many of the books featured on the American Library Association’s top 10 challenged and banned list are there because they either feature LGBTQ themes, like the story "George" that was challenged and banned because of conflicting with religious viewpoints, or even "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" because of profanity and sexual references.
Curtis says she’s disturbed by the movement to censor specific books as libraries are places to help answer questions.
"When you have teens and young adults coming in here and questioning who they are and their identity, it’s good to have a book about someone else who went through that same thing," said Curtis.
Butte isn’t a stranger to banning books. Mary Maclane’s book “The Story of Mary Maclane” was banned in the Butte Public Library for years because prominent citizens didn’t like how Butte was portrayed.
"We now have several copies as well as a book club kit," Curtis said.
Books can be challenged at the Butte Public Library, but Curtis hopes it doesn’t come to that anytime soon.
"Tell us what you want to read, don’t tell us what you don’t want anyone else to read." said Curtis.