Sunday, October 17, 2010

Banned Books: Policy and Protocol

After reading the articles for this week -- I kind of panicked. What the banana boat would I do if I needed to defend a book in my library's collection? Does someone have my back? Does my library have a policy -- a how-to?
In the Atlas article, it is mentioned that "an established collection development policy is the most important tool a library has for handling challenges to the inclusion of controversial items in its collection....The most important aspect of such a policy is its very existence. Such statements let library users know that their libraries do not endorse the materials they collect." p.56

Besides ensuring your library has a clear policy on how to handle challenges, you should also be aware of the following *amazing* (I'd make this word all glittery if I could) resource right here in Madison:

The Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) (right down the hall from the SLIS Commons) provides "guidelines for maintaining clarity and control in a situation when materials are challenged." They have useful documents highlighting things that could be quite nerve wracking when confronted with, such as Dealing with the Media and Conducting a Challenge Hearing.  Being aware of such a great resource is a great first step to defending the freedom to read!

Here is a snippet if you are too lazy to click around:

Immediate Steps to Take

  • Review your institution's selection policy, including the selection criteria and the reconsideration process
  • Assess what steps have been taken in the reconsideration process and what steps are to be taken
  • Review the complaint
  • Discuss the situation with your administrator
  • Review your profession's policy statements
  • Gather resources (such as copies of reviews, information on awards and best-of-the-year list distinctions for the title. If you are a Wisconsin teacher or librarian, the CCBC Intellectual Freedom Information Services can assist you with this)
  • Read or re-read the title in question

Additional Steps to Take

Note: These steps may vary, depending on what your policy says and what has happened so far.
  • Maintain the material in the collection for the time being
  • Be prepared to explain the function of the resource
  • Contact the Reconsideration Committee
  • Communicate with the Board of Education or Library Board of Trustees


  1. I've spent the better part of the last hour or so clicking around the CCBC resources. It's good to know that such things exist in the event I should ever need them.

  2. Awesome -- that was my goal with this post! :)