I Have A Dirty Little Secret

According to School Library Journal, that is.

"Self-censorship. It’s a dirty secret that no one in the profession wants to talk about or admit practicing. Yet everyone knows some librarians bypass good books—those with literary merit or that fill a need in their collections. The reasons range from a book’s sexual content and gay themes to its language and violence—and it happens in more public and K–12 libraries than you think."

How to make Noel see red: Pat her on the head and say, “Librarians need to remember that it’s not their job to impose their own ideologies on the kids they serve…”

One commenter, a middle school librarian, articulated most of my reactions (a lot more calmly than I would have).

I find the author's definition of censorship to be rather restrictive in its scope, for several reasons:

1) Knowing one’s community…

2) In loco parentis is more complex that the author would wish readers to believe. A student’s physical, emotional, and intellectual development are intertwined, not separate entities…

3) Common sense. Not everyone is going to comprehend the message an author may be trying to convey. Heavy doses of profanity and other strong choices of language may become distracting to a reader who has an aversion to such language, though the student may be in a position where he/she must read it to complete an assignment…

…Common sense also tells me that I will NOT EVER select a book for my school’s library that instructs the reader on how to build a pipe bomb, manufacture meth, or in any other way harm themselves or another individual--physically or emotionally--and that I should take care that the stories I select do not also promote such behavior.

Call it censorship if you like. I call it respect for the well-being of my community.

Hear, hear, Ms. Kincaid!

It infuriates me that “censorship” is streng verboten unless a book is, say, a Nativity story. Then, of course, it cannot be included in the collection, because it might be offensive to someone.

Reminds me of Ben Stein’s findings in his film Expelled. If you haven’t seen that film, you really, really should.

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