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Intellectual Freedom and Today’s Libraries–is your collection development policy enough to protect you?

READS Fall Conference and Annual Meeting

Gail Zachariah

on 26 October 2012

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Transcript of Intellectual Freedom and Today’s Libraries–is your collection development policy enough to protect you?

Intellectual Freedom Toolkit "[O]ne man's vulgarity is another's lyric."

-- John Marshall Harlan, Supreme Court justice, 1971 “Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.”
—Article 3, Library Bill of Rights
Over the past ten years, American libraries were faced with 4,660 challenges.

•1,536 “sexually explicit” material
•1,231 “offensive language”
•977 “unsuited to age group”
•553 “violence”
•370 “homosexuality”
•121 “anti-family
•304 “religious viewpoints” Where the Challenges Occur:

37% Classrooms
30% School Libraries
24% Public Libraries
8% Other (community/student groups,
prison libraries)
1% Colleges/Academic Libraries A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. -- ALA.org The gay-themed book Revolutionary Voices, an anthology of first-person works by youths in New Jersey, has been quietly pulled from library shelves in Burlington County, N.J., and a high school. --USA Today 8/5/2010 Tucson, AZ school district officials have released an initial list of books to be banned from the school system following the state ban on the teaching of ethnic studies. [This] lengthy list removes every textbook dealing with Mexican-American history — and even Shakespeare.
--New York Daily News 1/16/12 Not mindless cattle Future Leaders should be individual thinkers It all begins here. Credits:

You Tube Video:

100 Banned Books Gottesman Library Teachers College, New York

Statistics: ALA- American Library Association

Images: Flickr Creative Commons 2.0 Generic License

Book burning pcorreia
f451_book_burning dreamingofthesunshine
Vitruvian Mr. Enjoy
Banned Dr Suess book the Lorax GoodnCrazy
Book Burning - Quema de Libros –
St Dominic and the Albigenses Derechoaleer
Capitol rponsaj
Hungry Cows Mary Reiford
Focus John-Morgan
Shhhhh, I am reading.... slightly everything What to do
the Censor Comes 1. Maintain a materials selection policy 1. Maintain a materials selection policy

Your library’s materials selection policy should be in writing and should include a notice that it has been approved by the library’s governing authority (Board, University, etc.). It should cover all types of library materials and should be revised periodically to ensure that it reflects current policies.

2. Maintain a library service policy-

Your library’s written service policy should cover registration policies, programming, free distribution of materials, bulletin boards and displays and all library activities and services that could have an impact on access to materials or facilities.

3. Maintain a clearly defined procedure for handling complaints.

4. Maintain in-service training.

5. Maintain open lines of communication with civic, religious, educational and political bodies of the community- Dealing with Concerns about Library Resources What to do When the Censor Comes LISTEN calmly and courteously to the complaint. Remember that the person has a right to express a concern. Listen fully to the grievance.

RESPOND with respect, but also with confidence. The goal is to help this person understand the need for diversity in library collections and the use of library resources. Remember, you represent not only this patron, but also those patrons who want or need to use the material inquestion. NOTIFY your governing authority of the complaint. Present full, written information giving the nature of the complaint and identifying the source.

SEEK SUPPORT ASSERT THE PRINCIPLES of the “Library Bill of Rights” as a professional responsibility. Laws governing obscenity, subversive material and other questionable matter are subject tointerpretation by courts. Library resources found to meet the standards set in the material selection or collection development policy should not be removed or restricted from public access until after an adversary hearing resulting in a final judicial determination. And now for
a few case studies... Republic High School, MO received national attention in 2010 after banning a book many consider to be an American classic
– "Slaughterhouse-Five." 
The challenger, a business professor at Missouri State University, also requested the school board restrict two other novels – "Twenty Boy Summer," a coming-of-age romance, and "Speak," a book about a teenager trying to cope with being raped.
-- columbiamissourian.com/p/book-challenges On Jan. 28, 2011, Bitch Magazine posted a list of "100 YA Novels for the Feminist Reader." 

An online commenter objected to Jackson Pearce's Sisters Red. Another commenter protested Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels . By Feb. 1st, Sisters Red, Tender Morsels, & a third book, Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott, were removed. There was immediate outrage.

--Asking the Wrong Questions, February 02, 2011 A 10-year-old reader of manga, went into the Washington library branch while her grandmother waited outside & checked out several books, including the boys love title Hero-Heel 2 by Makoto Tateno. Her uncle raised objections to the manga book several days later.

--Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Oct. 16, 2012 A parent filed a written complaint with
the library and demanded "Uncle Bobbie's Wedding" be pulled off the shelves after he found it in a stack of his daughters books. He wrote "This book seeks to influence young children to accept an activity that is illegal (homosexual marriage) and a lifestyle that is well-documented to be harmful to one's physical and emotional well-being."

--St. Louis Post Dispatch, Oct. 25, 2012 In July, 2012, an Iowa teacher’s aide was fired after disrupting classes by insisting that Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a racist book that shouldn’t be taught in schools. Afterward, a judge denied her request for unemployment and noted, “Of course it’s racist. Part of the idea was to point out, through that book, that it was racist. It’s about racism.” How should employees be rained about the importance of 1st Amendment issues?

When should this training occur? Discussion Question What wording in a collection development policy might lend support to librarians who must select controversial material as part of their responsibility to the library community? Discussion Question Should employees be terminated
when they censor material?

How would you prove that an employee intentionally engaged in censorship?

Does your library have a policy for working with employees who are accused of censorship? Discussion Question How does your library determine
where to place a book?

How does your library decide if a book belongs in the adult or children's section of the library? Discussion Question Are librarians who attempt to restrict children from checking out material opening themselves up to lawsuits? Discussion Question Can your library defend a decision not to purchase specific library material? Discussion Question Sometimes books that have been challenged and retained are ultimately weeded from the collection. Might you be disinclined to weed such titles, in an almost "reverse-censorship" move, in order to maintain or demonstrate the diversity of your holdings? Discussion Question ALA Resources
Intellectual Freedom Statements and Guidelines http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/statementspols

Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill/interpretations

Intellectual Freedom Manual, 8th ed.

LMinors' Rights to Receive Information Under the First Amendment http://www.ala.org/offices/oif/ifissues/issuesrelatedlinks/minorsrights
Support for Dealing with Challenges http://www.ala.org/advocacy/banned/challengeslibrarymaterials/copingwithchallenges

Other Online Resources
Authors Support Intellectual Freedom http://asifnews.blogspot.com/
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund http://cbldf.org/
National Coalition against Censorship http://www.ncac.org/action_issues/Youth.cfm

More Resources ….
A Dirty Little Secret: Self-Censorship School Library Journal, February 1, 2009 http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6632974.html

LaRue, James. The New Inquisition: Understanding and Managing
Intellectual Freedom Challenges. Libraries Unlimited, 2007.
Describes the kinds of challenges libraries typically face and the most effective
ways to respond to them.
Full transcript