Monday, October 18, 2010

Week 8

Ahhh….I dislike book banners. They annoy the heck out of me!!
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way…

I have never understood the book banning mentality. Why someone should read and live their lives by someone else’s rules. I have never gotten the whole sense of control. The control of dictating what book is taught in an English class or what is in a library collection which is paid by community (not one individual’s) taxes. Although, I do suppose that control is a very powerful feeling indeed for there seems to be many book banners…sad :(
As a librarian, and as a pro-reader, I am in full support of the ALA’s “Freedom to Read Statement”. However, I was in support of this philosophy long before I ever thought of becoming a librarian.

Do I think that some information/sources are better than others? Yes, undoubtedly. MedlinePuss is far better than (for example) for obtaining reliable, non-commercial, medical information. In reference classes we are taught to use sources with the most accurate information. However, we are also taught to provide what the customer wants – and that is everything under the sun. It may include everything from books which argue the “Science behind Scientology” to the “Hoax of the Holocaust”. Libraries are not equipped to prophesize every need or desire of information within the community. However, we ARE equipped to make sure that our library has the ability for anyone to find the information they seek (either in-house or from ILL). That is our mission and that is what Tiggers do best.

Back to point. Libraries are a place of information - a location where ideas are collected and shared. I wholly approve of the regulations within the Freedom to Read Statement, but I like point #2 the best which reads, “Publishers, librarians, and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation they make available. It would conflict with the public interest for them to establish their own political, moral, or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what should be published or circulated.”

This allows libraries to not become a victim of one ideal or another. It also allows libraries to not waste money on purchasing EVERY published material…because each book has a different viewpoint. Imagine how bankrupt the state would be if that were so? However, it also allows community libraries to both cover all aspects of a theory while still providing materials which will best serve the community. For example, a conservative, old fashioned community adjacent to the world’s best free hospital may have little use for many books on Alternative Medicine, or not. This is essential in smaller libraries who do not have the budget to round out the collection for philosophy’s sake even though they do not wish to actively participate in censorship.


  1. LRPGG - Interesting that you point out you already held certain ideals and values around information access _before_ coming to library school. Is it one of the things, in part, that attracted you to the profession?

  2. I love this posting because it's very realistic as to what libraries can and can't provide. Your point about book banners wanting control over what their community reads is spot-on. Some of the initial reaction to a "questionable" book may be just fear. Fear over language, fear over the 7 dirty words you can't say, fear over extreme ideas gaining ground in society. So the fear turns into anger, and in the book banner's case, anger turns into wanting to "protect" the community from works they deem wrong.

    I am glad that you are, like many others this week, against censorship. Reading the ALA's Freedom to Read Statement this week gave me chills. It should really be far more powerful than book banners!