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The award-winning news site of Cosumnes River College

The Connection

The award-winning news site of Cosumnes River College

The Connection

Local bookstore helps create campus library for banned books

Gabriella Groves
Local queer-owned bookstore, A Seat at the Table, collaborates with Cosumnes River College’s Radical Library for their book drive on Wednesday. The Radical Library is located in the Center for Inclusion and Belonging and features books that have been banned or challenged.

California Assembly Bill 1078 to ban “book bans” in schools and prohibit censorship of textbooks was signed in late September by Gov. Gavin Newsom, according to

Cosumnes River College’s PRIDE center and Radical Library hosted a book drive in collaboration with Elk Grove’s local and queer-owned bookstore, A Seat At The Table on Nov. 7. The drive, which took place in the quad, was intended for students to purchase or donate banned and challenged books.

“If a parent disagrees with what their kid can be reading, that parent absolutely has the right to have that conversation with their child, but they do not get to make that decision for other childrens and other families,” said Faith Emmert, the assistant manager of A Seat at the Table.

CRC’s Radical Library is located in the Center for Inclusion and Belonging (CIB) and students can read banned or challenged books from various authors. A Seat at the Table is helping CRC stock their library by setting up a book registry, hosting a month-long drive and incorporating their recommendations of titles.

According to the California State Library, some notable banned books in California since 2021 are “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton and “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.

Emmert said the drive was to help bring more awareness to book bans that are happening in our communities.

A Seat at the Table owner Emily Auternieth has attended numerous Elk Grove School Board meetings since there has been an on-going issue towards banning books in the district. During an Elk Grove School Board Meeting in September parents and students packed the meeting to denounce books that they say contain explicit material and calling for them to be banned in libraries, according to ABC 10.

“These are not books that are always taught or always even in school libraries. These are books that largely conservative people in the community take a really strong negative reaction to,” Emmert said. “They get a lot of fanfare around these books needing to be banned and that these books shouldn’t be around children even though most of these books are not even in libraries.”

CRC’s Radical Library was envisioned by Student Life Supervisor Oscar Mendoza-Plascencia. Yvonne Johnson, a clerk in the CIB, said Mendoza-Plascencia worked on the Radical Library with her and four other members in the CIB.

“Oscar’s thinking behind the banned books and the Radical Library is that first, what does challenge mean? It means an attempt to remove or restrict access,”Johnson said. “We work in the educational field so why would we want to restrict access to something that is just going to enhance a student’s world?”

Jennifer Martinez, a specialist for the PRIDE center, said they partnered with A Seat at the Table to do a three-part collaboration in the CIB that has spaces for students.

“We first met with A Seat at the Table last Spring at a summit and thought the book drive would be a great collaboration event,” Martinez said.

Martinez said the event brought more awareness to the center and the bookstore.

During the 2022-2023 school year, there have been over 3,000 instances of book bans nationally, an increase by 33% from last year occuring in 33 states, according to PENAmerica, which tracks books that are challenged across the nation.

“Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe, one book that has been banned since July of 2021, was featured in the drive. “Gender Queer” is a memoir by a queer author. According to PENAmerica, it is nationally banned in 56 school districts

“I’ve read ‘Gender Queer.’ I’ve met the author. If this book was being taught in a classroom, there’s nothing inappropriate of that book if you have a teacher guiding you through it,” Emmert said.

The Banned Book Drive will be held until Nov. 30 and students are able to purchase banned books that will be sent or gifted to CRC’s Radical Library. Emmert said A Seat at the Table will keep the drive open a little longer, so if someone missed the date, they can still purchase or donate books.

The future of banned books remains unclear, as many individuals and groups continue to push for titles to be banned or challenged throughout the nation.

“Adults, groups and politicians that want to die these books out. Shame on them,” Johnson said. “Let them read, talk and write about it.”

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About the Contributor
Gabriella Groves
Gabriella Groves, Staff Writer
Gabriella Groves is a staff writer for the Connection newspaper. She joined the Connection to enhance her writing skills, experience the work environment for journalism and push herself into trying something new that is a part of her major. She has been on staff for three semesters, writing a variety of different types of stories and will be transferring to University of Missouri in the Spring 2024. She enjoys running, hanging out with friends and listening to The Weeknd.

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