University Community

Banned Book Café sparks thought-provoking discussions on campus

The Rising Educators of Ohio University Zanesville, Muskingum County Library System and the Tea Society collaborated during the fall semester to host a Banned Book Café at the Zanesville Campus Library. Organized as part of the nationwide Banned Books Week by the American Library Association, the event aimed to engage the campus community in thought-provoking discussions about banned or challenged books.

Jen Lisy, assistant professor of instruction and Rising Educators of OUZ faculty advisor, shared insights into the motivation behind bringing Banned Books Week to campus. 

"We brought Banned Books Week to campus this year and engaged the entire campus community in discussions about what books have been banned or challenged and why," she said.

One of the unique features of the event was the banned book tasting, where participants were invited to explore books that have faced censorship and take notes to discuss together. Attendees took notes about their interactions with these books, leading to rich discussions around beloved classics like "Hatchet" by Gary Paulsen and "Little House on the Prairie" by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Teri Peasley, associate professor of instruction and early childhood and elementary education program coordinator, played a crucial role in preparing students for the event. 

"As the instructor for our senior-level Children’s Literature and Storytelling course, I encouraged students to explore a variety of books that had been banned or challenged before our Banned Books event," Peasley explained.

Zanesville Banned Book Fall 2023 Students

Peasley's students not only engaged in exploring banned books but also contributed to raising awareness. They created sketch note posters showcasing their interpretations of statistics related to banned and challenged books, shedding light on current trends in literary censorship.

Haley Shaw, youth services manager at the Muskingum County Library System, emphasized the significance of events like the Banned Books Café in fostering conversations about censorship and freedom of information. 

"Events like the Banned Books Café and things like celebrating Banned Books Week are great opportunities for us to engage in conversations about things like censorship and freedom of information," she added.

“I was disappointed to see books that were full of cultural diversity in the banned book café," Audrey Heddleson, a junior Early Childhood and Elementary Education major, said. "This limits not only yours but your students' freedom of choosing books full of literature that celebrates history, culture, identity, and ideas solely because someone found the book "unfit" in their eyes.”

The Muskingum County Library System and Zanesville Campus Library played a crucial role in the event by providing books and sharing their experiences with challenged literature. Their collaboration underscored the collective effort to promote open dialogue and a diverse range of literary voices.

The Banned Book Café not only brought attention to the challenges faced by certain books but also served as a platform for fostering discussions on censorship, freedom of information, and the importance of diverse voices in literature. 

To learn more about other upcoming community and campus events, please visit to check out the campus calendar.  Learn more about the OHIO Zanesville Education and other academic programs offered across campus by visiting

February 16, 2024
Heather Sands