Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Unnatural Selection: More Librarians are Self-censoring

Mathenia, Aimee

Jacobson, L. (2016, September 26). Unnatural selection: More librarians are
    self-censoring. Retrieved April 10, 2018, from https://www.slj.com/2016/09/

“Unnatural Selection…” provides results from the “Controversial Books Survey” conducted by School Library Journal in March 2016. The article notes that 40% of librarians have dealt with a challenge on the appropriateness of a particular book in their collection. The article also reports that 90% of school librarians have avoided adding books to the library collection that might be seen as controversial. In effect, the librarians are self-censoring books whether they are doing so purposefully or subconsciously.

This article also reviews the differing policies and procedures that vary from one library to another to purchase books to add to a school library collection, with 44% of middle school and 32% of high school libraries reporting a complete absence of a policy to purchase books for a collection.

Particularly at the middle school level, it is a challenge to purchase books to add to the library collection. Some students and their families show a lot of latitude in what to read and gravitate towards books like 13 Reasons Why or the latest John Green YA novel. At the other end of the spectrum, some students aren’t ready to read a Wendy Mass book that mention a girl wearing a bra for the first time.

What I take from this article is the importance of being aware of self-censoring books. It is also important to have a clear policy in adding books to a library collection. One librarian stated her library has a policy which requires two reviews from School Library Journal, Kirkus, Common Sense Media etc. for the appropriateness of a book before it is purchased and added into circulation.
Equally important is that libraries have a clear procedure for how to proceed when books are challenged. To have this policy established is a good step to proactively address any challenges that may arise.

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