No banned books, but some on "do not buy" list for local schools

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COLUMBIA - Banned book week started around the nation Monday. Columbia Public Schools do not have any banned books district-wide because its policy leave the decision to the schools. 

Both Rock Bridge Elementary and High School do not have any banned books, but they do have books they do not buy, said Rock Bridge High School Library Media Specialist Gwen Struchtemeyer. She would not name any.

Struchtemeyer said she does see the importance of banned book week and letting people know.

"Book banning and book burning goes on even today, and I think it is important to recognize it," Struchtemeyer said. 

Struchtemeyer says she does do careful research on books before she buys them to make sure they are age appropriate. She reads three or four reviews before buying and she for safe measure she says she reads them.

Classic books have been some of the most challenged by parents in the past. Rock Bridge High School finds a way around that by offering edited versions of books like Huckleberry Finn. 

"When it was a book that was used as a component of a classroom and I learned there was this copy that replaces that word with slave I did buy 25 of them," Struchtemeyer said. "If that could get a student to read that book and get to some of the other themes in that book that has been viewed as culturally relevant and explains the time then I thought they would check out."

She says they do check out, but they are still not as popular as the original.

Some of the most commonly banned books are actually series and they include Capitan Underpants, Harry Potter and Junie B. Jones. However, you can find most of them on one shelf at Rock Bridge Elementary.  

Library Media Specialist Amy Mckinzie says these are some of the most popular books they have and she does not see a reason to ban them. The books have also not been challenged by a parent. 

Columbia Public Schools does have a policy in place in which parents who would like a title removed from the shelf can fill a form out. The district would decide if the claim is valid or not.

"Our district puts together a panel made up of parents, teachers and administrators who all read the book and then decide and take steps from there if in fact they think anything needs to be done," Mckinzie said.

Rock Bridge Elementary has set up a few books about banning books in the library, but the high school has not.