Monday, September 29, 2008

"Banned" Books Week Strikes Again

"Banned" Books Week, or BBW, is upon us once again. Since the ALA has nothing new to say on the matter, I don't either. So read the old stuff; it's still better than the nonsense emanating from the ALA. Take a look at the books shown in the first link. Yeah, it's hard for people to get hold of a Harry Potter book, and I'm pretty sure Catcher in the Rye isn't available , either. And forget Huckleberry Finn. You can't find that darn thing anywhere, because it's been "banned." They've all been "banned"! Banned books, indeed. Enter the alternative universe of the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom, where we are always on the verge of totalitarianism because some rube in Bumflap, GA doesn't like gay penguins. Be sure to check your intellect at the door, though. Otherwise it's hard to take this stuff.

128 comments:

andrew the a/v guy said...

I had just commented on a "banned book week" post on our internal library blog and then got the AL post so I thought I'd repeat my comments here.

I was in another library last week and walked past a “banned book” display and overheard a mother and child discussing what the display meant. Were those books banned now? Could they check them out? What did “banned books” mean? We sometimes assume that our patrons understand what a "banned book" is (and they're not "banned", but "challenged" doesn't sound as threatening), but I’m not sure that they do. Simple explanation in displays can help, especially in a the children’s area.

Also, we assume that our patrons accept the notion that all books, regardless of content, should be available in the library, but that’s not always the case. Banned book week is a great opportunity to stress WHY we consider it important to make controversial books available in the library. It’s an opportunity to educate instead of just throwing a bunch of books on a shelf and leting the patrons try to figure it out for themselves.

Brent said...

I am for getting rid of all "____" day, week, months. Pirate talking day we have to keep, though. Happy birthday, too.

Anonymous said...

It is getting so that AL is phoning in last years posts.

Didn't take long for success to spoil AL.

Anonymous said...

Oh-h-h-h-h-h-h. I get it now. I've been hearing about this thing since library school, and I thought everyone was saying "BAND BOOKS WEEK."

"Banned" makes much more sense.

--- P. Melanchthon

hippieman said...

Didn't Palin and other right wing Christianists try to ban Huck Finn and Harry Potter?

Anonymous said...

Didn't Palin and other right wing Christianists try to ban Huck Finn and Harry Potter?

As part of the Spanish Inquisition, indeed.

But nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Chatty Librarian said...

I'm as cynical as anyone about stuff like this usually, but I'm now living and working in a library in Egypt, where our collection doesn't hold all these banned books because, well, they're banned.

It's not stuff like Huck Finn and Harry Potter that doesn't get through, but anything that appears to be critical of the president-for-life Hosni Mubarak or otherwise offends the Egyptian censors.

You certainly won't find Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses on our library's shelves either.

Anonymous said...

Dear Chatty: What if one of us sneaked you a personal copy as a gift??

chatty librarian said...

Aw, thanks anonymous!

It's pretty easy to bring in stuff like that, if you're a westerner and flying in. Customs hardly ever actually checks stuff. So I'm sure there are copies in the country, but not available for sale or in libraries.

I did want to clarify that while I work in a library, I don't live there. I live in a house. Apartment, actually. You know, like a normal person.

Tracy Marchini said...

Chatty: that is really interesting! Do you have any idea when the books go through the censors? (Pre-publication? Post publication? Before it even goes to contract?)

Anonymous said...

AL was offbase then. Since there are no new arguments, it's safe to assume AL continues to be offbase now.

AL refuses to acknowledge the difference every MLS student gets drilled into their heads about the difference between censorship and selection.

No library has to stock any book that doesn't meet their selection criteria.

But when a book meets selection criteria, is recommended for selection by a qualified librarian charged with slecting materials based on established criteria, and is then arbitrarily selected for removal on ideological grounds, it's censorship.

There's a difference. And, there is a LOT of censorship out there.

I don't know when, or if, AL got an MLS, but it is clear AL is sorely in need of a refresher course in Ethics.

Anonymous said...

What about a "Banned Librarians Week", like for the woman who wrote THE LIBRARY DIARIES? Personally, I think we should just vote "No" to bail-out ALA, and when the economic SHTF after this credit squeeze kicks in, and they start shutting down libraries and pink slipping librarians.....

Hey, we won't have the $$ to help them pay the rent and taxes on that East Huron St. real estate, anyway........Wonder if Judith Krug's 401k will survive the fall?

"Once I built a library,
made it run,
brother can you spare a dime..."

See ya in the bread-line.....

I'm Kat! said...

I just got finished with a Modern Course in Ethics. You know, what you are calling a "refresher course."

I'll just tell you right now: it has gotten worse then what AL is stating.

Before, what you state was the definition of censorship. "No library has to stock any book that doesn't meet their selection criteria" was a perfectly Good arguement. Today, the very notion of "Selection Criteria" is now also Censorship. A librarian browsing a catalog and selecting materials based upon ANY set rubrics, is censorship.

No library can live up to these demands. No library can compete with the bounds of the internet or what internet commerce has made globally available. And yet the liberal zealots demand that we have every single book that is on the interent available to our patrons RIGHT THIS SECOND when they ask for it.

Print on demand is probably going to be very very popular. Of course, you might have to read it for free only at the library, and if you want to take it home, you have to buy a "personal use only" copy for 2.99 per book...at iBooks.

That's how liberal the whole thing has become. And at this point, I think it's better to just stop arguing and let amazon and the bookstores take over the whole bibliographic universe. Close out the stacks, send the librarians home, hire a bunhc of young idiot clerk staff Part-ies, and plug in the book expresso machine with a life membership to iBooks.

And every library will be plugged into it. Kind of how the ALA people have plugged themselves into...well, something disgusting.

Cincinnati NAMjA said...

I kind of hope that my book becomes banned in the United States. It looks like a pretty great list to be associated.

Anonymous said...

Here's hoping the AL posts last years comments about DDR.

Nothing says dead blog than dragging up old posts.

Anonymous said...

re: Before, what you state was the definition of censorship. "No library has to stock any book that doesn't meet their selection criteria" was a perfectly Good arguement. Today, the very notion of "Selection Criteria" is now also Censorship. A librarian browsing a catalog and selecting materials based upon ANY set rubrics, is censorship<<

I'm quite sure they didn't teach you that in Ethics class. If they did, ask for your money back and find a different school.

AL said...

A refresher course, my eye. It sounds like you accept the poorly justified ALA definition of censorship. Check out the comment from Egypt. That's censorship.

j- said...

*Didn't Palin and other right wing Christianists try to ban Huck Finn and Harry Potter?*

Hippieman, I think you forgot yoru sarc tag, because liberals tried to ban Huck Finn, on the basis of the use of the "N" word and Harry Potter of course, had not even been released yet Palin visited Wasilla's librarian.

As for the rest of these books, how about calling this week "Books that were banned at some time, long ago, someplace far away". Of course, if you're going to do that, you could include every single book ever published.

Anonymous said...

Too bad we can't have laws like Egypt to keep junk science, mis-information, and all the rest of the dreck out of our libraries.

Minks said...

We have a lot of books here that get banned. By the Patrons. Whatever they feel does not belong on our shelves, they steal. Maxim has not seen the light of day in ages. Cosmo is still there of course. No more or less offensive then Maxim, but since it objectifies everybody (and not just women) I guess it is ok.

I quit caring (much) about 2 years ago.

DearReader said...

I think ALA has been reading your posts, AL, because I haven't seen anything with "BBW" (as opposed to "Banned Books Week") all week.

I'm Kat! said...

anonymous September 30, 2008 12:49 PM
I'm quite sure they didn't teach you that in Ethics class. If they did, ask for your money back and find a different school.


I don't know if I should be miffed or offended with how you have purported to know precisely what was taught in MY Ethics course, the one I WAS in and you WERE NOT this very last summer, at the conclusion of my degree.

We spent a week on the subject of censorship [I know, absolutely not enough time!] and this idea was supported with readings and powerpoint presentations - and the definition of censorship in this class was quoted word for word straight from the ALA Literature. The readings in conjuction with this topic removed all concious librarian tasks from the collection development process.

I assure you, very much so, that this IS what was taught in my Ethics course as the definition of censorship, and it makes perfect sense because my MLS school, like most others, is VERY cozy with the ALA. It is afterall, an ALA accredited MLS hampstermill.

The professor who used to teach this class and taught my collection development class was a very smart person but unfortuantely he was neither popular nor hip. He taught the definition the AL cites occurs in the Egypt Example. He was also wise enough to inform us about how the definition of censorship is not theoretically defined in stone, and thus, it is up to us as librarians to figure out for ourselves what constitutes censorship. He did not get tenure, or perhaps my ethics course would have been with him instead of the new hampster teacher I did have. The new hampster teacher reflected nearly perfect ALA values, so I have no doubt that in a couple years she WILL have tenure.

I also assure you I was just as miffed as you are that this is actually what is being taught in library school today. I felt like everything I learned in Collection Development had been officially trivialized and canned. In short, it is one more rock I have added to my stack against the idea of libraries some how being important in 2008 and on as informaiton connesiuers. In short, the library is nothing more then a Community Activity Center now.

And I assure you that it won't help me or anyone else for that manner to go to any other ALA accredited MLS school in this country because I presume that they are all espouting out the same proverbial premordial swamp garbage.

I suppose I could go to a non-ALA-accredited Library school, but then those schools are "unrecognized" and thus any ideas you may get from them are theoretically irrelevant or below the current Professional Floor of librariansship. Those ideas are "beneath us now," so to speak.

Anonymous said...

re: And I assure you that it won't help me or anyone else for that manner to go to any other ALA accredited MLS school in this country because I presume that they are all espouting out the same proverbial premordial swamp garbage.<<

Now who is presuming? Do yourself a favor and find a different school. Or at least take another ethics class. And write a nice letter to the committee on accreditation advising them of the problem. Don't forget to copy your dean or director.

This is NOT what is taught in properly developed ethics courses in ALA accredited schools.

You can take comfort in the fact that AL is as uninformed as you in this matter. Perhaps you and AL are alums?

I'm Kat! said...

I only presume because I have heard echoed through this blog many of the same sentiments I have had while going through my school.

It is clear you are out of touch with where academia is at this point in time and further out of touch with the ALA. At this point you waste our time with your suggestions. If you went through a "proper" ALA accredited school even five years ago, I am sorry, but your viewpoints on Ethics courses in ALA accredited schools are already out of date.

I should add to note that these same viewpoints were echoed in another class on Cultural Challenges for libraries. In this class the viewpoint that the library reflects the dominant culture is a from of censorship against the fringe cultures. As such, if your library has a coillection development policy that would prevent material of benefit to some fringe ciltures, such as materials supporting and advocating for same sex relationships for teens, you would be censoring against that group.

In short, by making a concious effort to not select materials based upon a set of criteria, you are discriminating against those people who are interested in those materials.

And this professor was a Rent-A-Professor from another ALA accredited university that was not the one I went to.

The university I went to is a Tier One Research University. So my school is not exactly small fries either. The Director is very close to the ideals of the ALA, and these ideals permeate down through the school courses worse then a really bad TCE Plume.

The Aggravated Librarian said...

I'm waiting to see how the current economic situation hits the library field. How will students get loans, and at what rates for the "Library Education Bubble"? Hey, compare it with sub-prime mortages, when it comes to landing entry level work. Is there a disparity between the actual value of an accredited MLS[or whatever it's called], and what's paid for one at your typical diploma mill? AL should discuss this "bubble" in her future writings, if she doesn't buckle to "the Man".

As far as "ethics" goes, I've often wondered if they shouldn't make Machiavelli's THE PRINCE required reading for Library Administration classes [particularly for public libraries].

I have to laugh when I think of censorship and ethics being spoken of in the current library environment. I recall a former teacher with a Ph.D who went into librarianship fearing what turned out to be a major termination of faculty in the wake of an academic "merger" [read hostile takeover]. This individual gave talks about how to deal with things like the "Bumflap, Ga." censorship situation across the state, until "sandbagged" by certain people with the state library assn.[not coincidentally a state bordering Georgia]. This individual finally left the region.

I find the analogy of public libraries with "community activity centers" interesting as well. In a community where I once lived the new Borders Bookstore was putting on programs that were challenging those at the local library.

Last but not least, does anyone recall the fate of the library in Salinas, California, where John Steinbeck once lived and set much of his writing?

Is this field as bankrupt as certain firms on Wall Street?

Anonymous said...

It's naive to think that censorship is unnecessary. We practice censorship in our lives every day. Why should the library be any different?

Anonymous said...

Ok, we have certain data being supplied to the Dept. of Labor in order to "cook the books" about the actual demand for librarians. How is this different from doing likewise with sub-prime mortgages?

ALA should recall what happened in the late 80's and early 90's when many well known [Univ. of Chicago, Columbia Univ., Emory] accredited library programs folded. Is there a parallel with the economic situation at the time? Round II?

Anonymous said...

It is clear you are out of touch with where academia is at this point in time and further out of touch with the ALA. <<

My dear, you just don't know how much you are presuming. And how far off base you are in your presumptions. Find a different school. What permeates through this blog is bilge as often as not. It's full of disgruntled whiners with an axe to grind more often than not.

I'm Kat! said...

Aggravated, I think you need to look no further then the current librarian salaries and then look at how many librarians who cannot afford retirement and I think you will have your answer right there.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 11:30 PM - if your POV on the world of libraries and the education of librarians is all roses and sunshine, then why are you hanging out at the Annoyed Librarian blog? You say this place is "...full of disgruntled whiners with an axe to grind more often than not." Well, yes. That's why we're here. To be among other librarians as annoyed as we are.

And Kat, from this annoyed librarian's POV, your assessment that "...the library is nothing more then a Community Activity Center now" couldn't be more true. At my library school, we had one lesson about how to bring youth into the library. For an hour, a local youth librarian talked about her successful Mario Kart competitions and Dungeons & Dragons night. I walked out of that particlar session angrier than I've been in a long time. I didn't lay out $25K to be a freakin' Dungeonmaster! And how long will it be before the public realizes that you don't need a graduate degree - or the associated salary - to babysit kids on a Wednesday night?

Our profession is dying, one 2.0 initiative at a time.

Anonymous said...

Who cares?

Anonymous said...

The problem is that people often go for the wrong books. I am in favor of prudent censorship. Get the crap out of our libraries. Let people pay for their own crap (like it should even be published!), not the taxpayer. No I don't need another witchcraft book or a book on teaching my kid to masturbate.

Librarian,
So. Cal California

Anonymous said...

Let people pay for their own crap. . .

Absolutely.

I am so tired of having to provide books on Hebrew mythology and all of its offshoots.

Likewise anglo-male centric history.

Popular culture? Go to Barnes and Noble.

We are only going to provide good solid facts from the Statistical Abstract of America.

And Reader's Digest.

soren faust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

People who aren't funny shouldn't try to be funny on the internet.

Anonymous said...

People who aren't funny shouldn't try to be funny on the internet.

I don't get your joke?

soren faust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

To Anonymous:
"What permeates through this blog is bilge as often as not. It's full of disgruntled whiners with an axe to grind more often than not."
So why do you waste your time both reading and posting here?

Anonymous said...

So why do you waste your time both reading and posting here?

It breaks up the day of cataloging tedious government publications.

Anonymous said...

"So why do you waste your time both reading and posting here?

It breaks up the day of cataloging tedious government publications."

Been there, done that, moved along....Hope they're making it worth the effort $$-wise.

Anonymous said...

"So why do you waste your time both reading and posting here?

It breaks up the day of cataloging tedious government publications."

Been there, done that, moved along....Hope they're making it worth the effort $$-wise."

Probably not, otherwise they wouldn't be futzing around here.

Anonymous said...

re: So why do you waste your time both reading and posting here?<<

Let's call it a hobby. It's time very well spent.

What is a waste of time is a blogger like AL posting a "see what I wrote before because I have nothing new to say" column. My question is, why is AL wasting time here?

Oh wait, that's right, AL has a book deal. Why spend quality time here when there's a book deal to attend to and money to be made?

I'm Kat! said...

I am only going to tell my detractor that we are at an impasse in advancing either of our arguements any further with each other in the manner that we are debating. As such, while one of us has experienced one perverse course in idealism while the other has experienced another equally perverse course in realism, we are simply two blind men describing different parts of the same elephant. I shall cease telling this person about the reality that is today. Instead I shall demonstrate what my education HAS taught me by examining a different post. I want my detractor to take sharp note that the main supporting documents in my classes were those published by the ALA, that my school is accredited by the ALA, and that my school is an ALA Rah-Rah School.

Anonymous said...
The problem is that people often go for the wrong books. I am in favor of prudent censorship. Get the crap out of our libraries. Let people pay for their own crap (like it should even be published!), not the taxpayer. No I don't need another witchcraft book or a book on teaching my kid to masturbate.

Librarian,
So. Cal California

October 1, 2008 1:23 PM


So which books are "Right?" and Who's point of View is "Right?" Who's Right?? I so very well remember my first good argument in the Introductory course and that final rhetorical question stopped all conservative arguments firmly in their tracks!

The first thing we did in our ethics course was examine a number of ethics side by side, including Utilitarian, Kantian, Rossian and Rawlsian. Then we added in other ethics such as the feminist ethic [the Ethic of Caring], the Confucious Ethic and the Native American Ethic. We then took simple ethical problems and approched them using each ethic to determine the right solution based upon each ethic.

The points of this exercise was to come to the understanding that there is not one "Right" ethic on this planet and that none of the ethics agree with each other in any universal manner.

But Libraries are supposed to be the one place in the entire universe where everybody can come and feel welcome regardless of their personal background or present appearence. I suppose even serial librarian molesters murderers would be allowed in libraries under the ALA's rules. As per the ALA literature, libraries must develop policies that can address ethical considerations in a universal manner. At least, this is my conclusion after reading the ALA Library Bill of Rights and the ALA code of Ethics and other ALA publications and the lectures from my courses.

Indeed, when you parse all of the ethical codes down to one ethic that can agree with all of them, you end up with a Collection Development policy that simply states "the librarians will obtain by any means necessary anything the patrons request and have it on the shelf before they ask for it." Librarians are not allowed to interject their own judgement or bias into the process much less persuade or guide their patrons in any way or direction because that may influence the information the patron recieves and therefore unfairly shift the patron's viewpoint towards one the librarian supports.

Naturally, of course, you then have to add the part about how certain groups may object and censor material in the library if they wish. For instance Native American groups can have materials written without their permission about their culture, religion, practices or anything else removed from the library or put in a restricted section. By the way, I learned another interesting tidbit: these Native cultures would LOVE to see the Indian in the Cupboard,ironically one of the most popular books about native culture amongst dominant culture readers, banned. We must allow this censorship because we must be sensitive to repressed minorities and feel ashamed for the past regressions of our ancestors.

Not all groups may make these objections, of course. Religious groups, PTA groups, Local Councils, and all other Dominant Culture supported censorship must be stood up against at all costs. Librarians must stand up stiff and proud with the ALA literature held up firmly in their hands against these evil doers and state "we do not censor here!" And the ALA will proudly support them and back them up but never mind finding them another job afterwards.

This is what I have learned from my modern ALA Accredited MLS Program at a Research One University. Rah - Rah! If you don't like this, please, stop wasting our time and GO READ THE ALA LITERATURE YOURSELF!

Why care? I would believe if it is something that will affect how you live and eat and breathe, it is vitally important to talk much less care about the subject. And a profession is indeed something that makes a way of life possible. If things continue like they are, librarians will be just like the horse manure shovelers of yore when the automobile replaced the horse.

Blog debating is also a very invigorating hobby in what is otherwise a very mundane and ignorant society.

Have a nice Night.

Anonymous said...

Why Banned Books Week?

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year. Observed since 1982, the annual event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted.

Banned Books Week (BBW) celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met. As the Intellectual Freedom Manual (ALA, 7th edition) states:

“Intellectual freedom can exist only where two essential conditions are met: first, that all individuals have the right to hold any belief on any subject and to convey their ideas in any form they deem appropriate; and second, that society makes an equal commitment to the right of unrestricted access to information and ideas regardless of the communication medium used, the content of the work, and the viewpoints of both the author and receiver of information. Freedom to express oneself through a chosen mode of communication, including the Internet, becomes virtually meaningless if access to that information is not protected. Intellectual freedom implies a circle, and that circle is broken if either freedom of expression or access to ideas is stifled.”

Each year, the American Library Association (ALA) is asked why the week is called “Banned Books Week” instead of “Challenged Books Week,” since the majority of the books featured during the week are not banned, but “merely” challenged. There are two reasons. One, ALA does not “own” the name Banned Books Week, but is just one of several cosponsors of BBW; therefore, ALA cannot change the name without all the cosponsors agreeing to a change. Two, none want to do so, primarily because a challenge is an attempt to ban or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A successful challenge would result in materials being banned or restricted.

Although they were the targets of attempted bannings, most of the books featured during BBW were not banned, thanks to the efforts of librarians to maintain them in their collections. (See also Censorship and Challenges and Notable First Amendment Cases.) Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.

To assist in planning the weeklong celebration, each year a BBW kit is developed. This kit includes three posters, 100 bookmarks, a button and a Resource Guide, which contains suggested activities and ideas for a BBW celebration. Moreover, the Resource Guide contains an annotated list of challenged or banned books and is an excellent reference for conducting research on censorship. (Since 2001, the Resource Guide is published every three years. Between new editions, kits include one List of Books Challenged or Banned since the last BBW.)

Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from “inappropriate” sexual content or “offensive” language. Although this is a commendable motivation, Free Access to Libraries for Minors, an interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights (ALA's basic policy concerning access to information) states that, “Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents—and only parents—have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children—and only their children—to library resources.” Censorship by librarians of constitutionally protected speech, whether for protection or for any other reason, violates the First Amendment.

As Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., in Texas v. Johnson, said most eloquently:

“If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”

If we are to continue to protect our First Amendment, we would do well to keep in mind these words of Noam Chomsky:

“If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.”

Or these words of "Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas (The One Un-American Act." Nieman Reports, vol. 7, no. 1, Jan. 1953, p. 20):

“Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.”

For more information on Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read, please contact the American Library Association/Office for Intellectual Freedom at 1-800-545-2433, ext. 4220, or bbw@ala.org.
Banned Books Week Sponsors

* American Booksellers Association
* American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
* American Library Association
* American Society of Journalists and Authors
* Association of American Publishers
* National Association of College Stores
* Endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress



Links to non-ALA sites have been provided because these sites may have information of interest. Neither the American Library Association nor the Office for Intellectual Freedom necessarily endorses the views expressed or the facts presented on these sites; and furthermore, ALA and OIF do not endorse any commercial products that may be advertised or available on these sites.

Anonymous said...

re: Not all groups may make these objections, of course. Religious groups, PTA groups, Local Councils, and all other Dominant Culture supported censorship must be stood up against at all costs. Librarians must stand up stiff and proud with the ALA literature held up firmly in their hands against these evil doers and state "we do not censor here!" And the ALA will proudly support them and back them up but never mind finding them another job afterwards.<<

I've examined quite a few syllabi, and I can't find this anywhere. I also can't find it in any ALA literature. Perhaps you could provide a citation to ALA literature that makes this bizarre assertion?

You had a bad course, a bad instructor, or you simply choose to inject your own bias in interpreting what the materials are.

The vast majority of quality ethics courses, in libraryland and in all other disciplines, do NOT teach that any particular ethics or system of ethical judgement is right or wrong. They certainly do not teach that only some people can make ethical claims. They provide a framework under which an individual or group can make ethical decisions.

Find a different course or a different school. Or, pay more attention next time. In any case, stop being so bitter. It's quite unattractive.

I'm Kat! said...

Anonymous said...
re: Not all groups may make these objections, of course. Religious groups, PTA groups, Local Councils, and all other Dominant Culture supported censorship must be stood up against at all costs. Librarians must stand up stiff and proud with the ALA literature held up firmly in their hands against these evil doers and state "we do not censor here!" And the ALA will proudly support them and back them up but never mind finding them another job afterwards.<<

I've examined quite a few syllabi, and I can't find this anywhere. I also can't find it in any ALA literature. Perhaps you could provide a citation to ALA literature that makes this bizarre assertion?

You had a bad course, a bad instructor, or you simply choose to inject your own bias in interpreting what the materials are.

The vast majority of quality ethics courses, in libraryland and in all other disciplines, do NOT teach that any particular ethics or system of ethical judgement is right or wrong. They certainly do not teach that only some people can make ethical claims. They provide a framework under which an individual or group can make ethical decisions.

Find a different course or a different school. Or, pay more attention next time. In any case, stop being so bitter. It's quite unattractive.

October 2, 2008 10:39 AM


At this point I have brought into the que not just my Ethics Course but also my Cultural Persepectives Course. It is in this Cultural Perspectives course where you will find the information related to who can and cannot make objections.

The syllabi will state this learning outcome along the lines of "The student will learn to [appreciate, respect, understand, accomodate, emphatize] with under-represented cultural groups to see that their information needs are met." What is not being said here is something along the lines of "the student will learn to [Ignore, depreciate, devalue, defy] the cultural values of the dominant cultural group.

When you connect this material with the material in the Ethics course, you end up with two conclusions. First, as you appropriately stated, no ethical theory is Right nor Wrong. The Second is that librarins are not allowed to have any ethical theory aside from the one that ALA perscribes, which in short is an ethical theory best served up by a robot or a computer terminal.

I found it to be quite aggravating to say the least. I still believe that the collection development policies should reflect the needs of the community, I.E. the Tax Payers, the people paying the bills, the people funding the library First and Foremost. It seems silly to me to require our local lobrarys serve and reflect all of the needs of foreigners, community visitors, migrants, and other people who are not from the local community. The ALA has in my mind forgotten just who it is that owns the library: The Taxpayer.

My instructors insisted they were not devaluating the Librarian as a profession because it takes a very strong person to serve up the ALA's Library on a daily basis. I argue that the ethical code supported by the ALA, however, is very easy to follow. Bookstores serve it up on a daily basis.

First, scoop your brain out and put it in a Jar. Now, proceed to do whatever the patron requests you to do EXCEPT anything regarding patron records. If anyone, anyone at all, even a parent, wishes to see a patron record that is not their own, tell them that you're sorry but you cannot give out any informaiton without a subpeona. If anyone wants you to not do anything else, like not put something on a shelf, or not put the R Rated movies next to the Disney Collection, give them the offical complaint form printed on pretty yellow paper and reaffirm to them that the library takes their concerns very seriously. Being a librarian is not about making friends or political alliances; it's about being to the library what Google is to the Internet.

If you did not know this already, Collection Development is now being heavily outsourced just as cataloging has been outsourced before it. Third Party Vendors provide a checklist of characteristics the library community has, and the vendor simply sends the library preselected books every month, complete with call number tags, barcodes, and catalog records. Librarians are quickly being whittled down to nothing more than...gasp, CLERKS!

Defend the Ideal ALA all you want, but in the end I think you will discover that the ALA is the American LIBRARY Association and NOT the American LIBRARIANS Association. By the end of the ideal ALA accredited program, you have librains who are unable and unwilling to think at all on their own. It is no wonder at all why this profession is so underpaid and underrespected, no matter how appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Bizarre. Keep digging.

Anonymous said...

I thought Banned Books Week was a celebration of banning books that deserved to be banned. It's naive to think there are no books that deserve to be banned. The real argument is which books. The head of each collection should maintain the ability to ban books that he/she deems inappropriate for his/her collection.

Anonymous said...

re: It's naive to think there are no books that deserve to be banned.<<

There are books that, depending on a particular library's mission and budget, should not be selected. There are no books properly selected under a well-established collection policy in keeping with a library's mission and budget that should be banned post facto on ideological or political grounds.

Are you sure you understand what banned books week is all about? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

Purposely not selecting a book is the same thing as banning a book. I guess Unselected Books Week just doesn't have the same pompous ring to it.

soren faust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

If your sensibility is so easily offended, then you must be a librarian.

Anonymous said...

re: Purposely not selecting a book is the same thing as banning a book<<

And you got your library degree where?

I'm Kat! said...

Anonymous said...
re: Purposely not selecting a book is the same thing as banning a book<<

And you got your library degree where?

October 3, 2008 12:13 AM


Now isn't this amusing???

I bet you it was NOT from the school I went to but I was taught the same line almost precisely word for word.

Just replaced the words "banning the book" with the word "censorship."

That is the ALA line describing how Censorship occurs in Collection Development. And that is what is taught in Modern Ethics Courses in ALA Accredited MLS Programs.

I resisted for as long as I could. But now, I understand. The Librarian is not necessary for collection development anymore. The Librarian has been replaced by Barnes&NoblesBordersAmazon.com and the collection development policy has been changed to "we will get everything on the electronic list as delivered in the preaddressed cardboard box and delivered to the library every first of the month."

The deselection policy looks like this: anything that looks old and has no antique value [published before 2008 but after 1900] is to be discarded as one would discard yesterday's newspaper.

KA-RA-TE!

Anonymous said...

I said: "Purposely not selecting a book is the same thing as banning a book"

And anonymous said "And you got your library degree where?"

So please elaborate - what's the difference between purposely not selecting a book and banning a book?

Anonymous said...

re: That is the ALA line describing how Censorship occurs in Collection Development.<<

And you can, of course, provide a citation or link?

re: And that is what is taught in Modern Ethics Courses in ALA Accredited MLS Programs.<<

It's precisely what is NOT "taught" in "Modern Ethics Classes." Except yours perhaps.

soren faust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SafeLibraries.org said...

AL:

I posted a link to your blog on mine. Significantly, I link to quite a number of articles on just how fake is BBW. For example, one link is "Banned Books Week Hypocrisy Publicized," by Robert Kent, The Friends of Cuban Librarians, 30 September 2008. Another is "Banned Books, Chapter 2; Conservative Group Urges Libraries to Accept Collection," by Michael Alison Chandler, The Washington Post, 3 October 2008. Seems it's okay to censor Cubans and Christians, only it's not called censorship and the ALA or its policies allow it.

Also, I keep it updated. So please visit "Thomas Sowell on Banned Books Week - BBW is 'Shameless Propaganda ... Now Institutionalized With a Week of Its Own.'"

Anonymous said...

If you're going to post a political joke (or any joke for that matter) you should first run it by a test audience before posting it. If it's not funny, then your point gets lost in the failed attempt at humor.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't a joke.

It was a question that got edited out of the debate.

soren faust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

ha ha ha

ho ho ho

hee hee hee

you are so funny

you should give up the commenting/librarian gig and go on tv

soren faust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SafeLibraries.org said...

Soren, I thought you were already in show biz. Weren't you the bad guy in a James Bond movie, A View To a Kill? Oh, it was Zorin.

soren faust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

ooo ooo ooo

Pick me. Pick me!

But on the condition that I could stay behind the screen and only my shadow would show while I snarked and joked.

I can even do a phony German accent.

auf Wiedersehen

Anonymous said...

Seriously, these attempts at humor are lame. When it comes to being funny, either you've got it or you don't. If you can't do better, just stop trying.

Anonymous said...

A librarian, a nun, and a prostitute walk into a bar....

oh never mind

soren faust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nom du Jour said...

This is going to lead to high inanity.

Anonymous said...

I'm Kat,
"So which books are 'Right?' and Who's point of View is 'Right?' Who's Right??"

You answer me with some good questions. Who is right? What are the right materials to stock in our libraries. My post was meant to be provocative since I think one of the great evils of our profession is our wholesale abandonment to inquire into what is right in libraries. Most selection criteria I think are very weak on the issues most people challenge a book about. There are things which are objectively wrong and destructive to the common good of the public, which, believe it or not, we are called to support (unless you do not work at a government library, which I doubt).

"The points of this exercise was to come to the understanding that there is not one 'Right' ethic on this planet and that none of the ethics agree with each other in any universal manner."

It seems that in this exercise you did establish an "ethic" that was the one right one, yours.

"But Libraries are supposed to be the one place in the entire universe where everybody can come and feel welcome regardless of their personal background or present appearence."

Who told you that. That is not what the library is. Sure we're supposed to be welcoming, but not brain-less. There are people who are excluded from libraries every day based on something like appearance. Try the guy who smells like piss for a mile. Try someone not wearing a shirt. Also it is quite prideful and incorrect to assume we are the *one* institution called to be all-welcoming.

"I suppose even serial librarian molesters murderers would be allowed in libraries under the ALA's rules."

I think the ALA is an organization that would benefit humanity by disappearing. Enough ALA propaganda and brainwash. I got enough of that in library school. Didn't work. They are interested in a world very different from the one I'm interested in. Theoretically the same literature you cite supports children viewing hardcore porn at libraries and not reporting a man viewing kiddie porn and bestiality. You know, every one has rights. No, thank you.

"Indeed, when you parse all of the ethical codes down to one ethic that can agree with all of them, you end up with a Collection Development policy that simply states 'the librarians will obtain by any means necessary anything the patrons request and have it on the shelf before they ask for it.'"

That is not ethics, that is the dogma of efficiency in action. This is turning libraries into something they never were. If you think we are the end all be all, which the 2.0 robots wish, you'll sadly be mistaken when we are left behind as our realizes were not up to the task. That is why ethics are being abandoned. They drag us down in the race and are "inefficient". They must be expanded to all universal ethic. Maximum results for minimum input and minimum time. More circulation and foot traffic for an all-encompassing material selection which take much less time because there is no thought as to how an item may affect the public. In practice material selection is much more automatized to the extent the budget allows. Good review? Popular author? Circulation possibilities?

"We must allow this censorship because we must be sensitive to repressed minorities and feel ashamed for the past regressions of our ancestors."

Double standard. Sort of PC censorship.

Regards,
So. Cal. Librarian

Anonymous said...

Man, that was a long post. How do you have so much free time? Are you sitting at a reference desk?

Anonymous said...

No, I had my Library Assistant do it for me. I was busy doing roving reference in the break room.

Anonymous said...

Whew, for a minute there, I though a librarian wrote it, and I was getting concerned.

sierracorp said...

I just found this, it's a site to buy used textbooks, instead of having to sell them back for pennies. It's called SchoolBooksOnSale.com

j- said...

*Gwen Ifill: Gov Palin, what does two plus two equal? *

Hey, it's Soren Faust with his second non-funny Palin joke this season. Wow, what a treat.

I didn't watch the debate for fear of seeing and/or hearing Joe Biden continue to bear false witness by telling that story about how that "drunk" driver killed his wife & daughter back in the day. You know, the guy who wasn't drunk, was never charged with being drunk and has since died and can't defend himself.

Biden wasn't too shaken up, because he went ahead and took his Senate seat anyway, taking the oath of office by his son's hospital bed while recovered from the crash. Hey, it's not like he had a down's syndrome baby or anything to prevent him from being a Senator!

Anyway, I'm pretty sure this is the same son who grew up to be a powerful LOBBYIST, you know, the kind Joe Biden claims he doesn't even know! He'd have more time to figure it out if he wasn't counting up all that MBNA money went or if he wasn't concocting idiotic stories about President FDR going on tv in 1929 after the stock market crashed, or calling his running mate Barack America or stealing other politician's speeches or telling reporters he has a higher IQ than they do or spewing one of these gems, which the McCain campaign put out about 3 seconds after the debate was over, that's how egregiously wrong they are:

JOE BIDEN’S 14 LIES TONIGHT

1. TAX VOTE: Biden said McCain voted “the exact same way” as Obama to increase taxes on Americans earning just $42,000, but McCain DID NOT VOTE THAT WAY.

2. AHMEDINIJAD MEETING: Joe Biden lied when he said that Barack Obama never said that he would sit down unconditionally with Mahmoud Ahmedinijad of Iran. Barack Obama did say specifically, and Joe Biden attacked him for it.

3. OFFSHORE OIL DRILLING: Biden said, “Drill we must.” But Biden has opposed offshore drilling and even compared offshore drilling to “raping” the Outer Continental Shelf.”

4. TROOP FUNDING: Joe Biden lied when he indicated that John McCain and Barack Obama voted the same way against funding the troops in the field. John McCain opposed a bill that included a timeline, that the President of the United States had already said he would veto regardless of it’s passage.

5. OPPOSING CLEAN COAL: Biden says he’s always been for clean coal, but he just told a voter that he is against clean coal and any new coal plants in America and has a record of voting against clean coal and coal in the U.S. Senate.

6. ALERNATIVE ENERGY VOTES: According to FactCheck.org, Biden is exaggerating and overstating John McCain’s record voting for alternative energy when he says he voted against it 23 times.

7. HEALTH INSURANCE: Biden falsely said McCain will raise taxes on people's health insurance coverage -- they get a tax credit to offset any tax hike. Independent fact checkers have confirmed this attack is false

8. OIL TAXES: Biden falsely said Palin supported a windfall profits tax in Alaska -- she reformed the state tax and revenue system, it's not a windfall profits tax.

9. AFGHANISTAN / GEN. MCKIERNAN COMMENTS: Biden said that top military commander in Iraq said the principles of the surge could not be applied to Afghanistan, but the commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force Gen. David D. McKiernan said that there were principles of the surge strategy, including working with tribes, that could be applied in Afghanistan.

10. REGULATION: Biden falsely said McCain weakened regulation -- he actually called for more regulation on Fannie and Freddie.

11. IRAQ: When Joe Biden lied when he said that John McCain was “dead wrong on Iraq”, because Joe Biden shared the same vote to authorize the war and differed on the surge strategy where they John McCain has been proven right.

12. TAX INCREASES: Biden said Americans earning less than $250,000 wouldn’t see higher taxes, but the Obama-Biden tax plan would raise taxes on individuals making $200,000 or more.

13. BAILOUT: Biden said the economic rescue legislation matches the four principles that Obama laid out, but in reality it doesn’t meet two of the four principles that Obama outlined on Sept. 19, which were that it include an emergency economic stimulus package, and that it be part of “part of a globally coordinated effort with our partners in the G-20.”

14. REAGAN TAX RATES: Biden is wrong in saying that under Obama, Americans won't pay any more in taxes then they did under Reagan.

I'm Kat! said...

I certainly don’t work in a library; I volunteer. Volunteers are the only individuals outside of management who are close to coming out even in the library game. My day job pays me twice a librarian’s starting salary for only 30 hours a week of my time. My day job is just one more reaffirmation that libraries are not in “the real world” where people are actually appreciated in an honest and sincere manner.

In the course of doing the ethical analysis assignment and my program in its entirety I never did come up with one good ethic but I did come to understand one good ethic for me. My ethic may not be the best ethic for another person, and that is perfectly fine. My ethic it not as conservative or realistic as perhaps the AL is, but it is not as liberal or ideal as the ALA is. I know I will not make a good ALA Librarian. For starters, I refuse to sell out my own ethical judgment for the ethical dogma the ALA demands of its librarians.

If you read the ALA Library Bill of Rights, you will see that it does indeed support the shirtless and the pungent, not to mention the morally repugnant, in our libraries. Article four and five from the ALA BoR: 4. IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas. 5 . A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.” Give these undesirable people time and they will figure out how to construct an argument that appeals to the ALA BoR, and once they do, you will see the shirtless, the scentless[can’t have scent if you can’t smell] and the sinless[can’t have sin if you don’t have a conscience] in the ALA Library. There may be other professions with such limitless admissions policies, but in all truth, the ALA has made a rather brainless position into the ideal.

Most libraries do not hold themselves to the ALA principles, even if they say they do. This incongruity helps establish the hollow authority that is the ALA. The ALA makes suggestions, and people follow those that are convenient to their position. A simple suggestion that is widely followed is the idea that librarians must have a MLS from an ALA accredited program of study is a good starter. Another suggestion that ALA accredited library schools cling to is a great looming imminent librarian shortage.

My Detractor’s debate tactics are a perfect example of the double standard that is in effect in this field. My viewpoint differs. If I did not have an MLS, my detractor would dismiss me outright and tell me that I would have to have an MLS to understand It’s view of librarianship. If I had the MLS, and I still do not agree, my detractor would tell me that it is because I did not go to an ALA accredited school. But since I have an MLS from an ALA accredited university, my detractor tells me it is my classes or my perspective that is wrong and that I need to go take more classes. No matter what happens, this person will never acknowledge any point of view opposed to its own, and any other will be discounted for any imaginable excuse. In this field we acknowledge that we have the freedom to think; well, that is, the freedom to think like the rest of us!!

I find it amusing how some people attack the person and not the position, thinking somehow that if they can remove people who think a different way from their ideal intellectual universe, they can remove whatever truth spoken those people.

KAT!

P.S.
I found Soren’s joke to be quite humorous, but then that glee was rapidly followed by a pain of remorse as I went into a state of tightening sickness; this election JUST ISN’T FUNNY ANYMORE!!!!!

P.S.S
The secret to writing long posts is an active working brain. If you don' think you have time to think very much, you probably don't. Your brain is like a muslce; the longer you don't use it, the weaker it gets.

soren faust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

i'm kat said: "P.S.S
The secret to writing long posts is an active working brain. If you don' think you have time to think very much, you probably don't. Your brain is like a muslce; the longer you don't use it, the weaker it gets."

Using that logic, politicians are the smartest people in the world. Just because someone is a windbag (spoken or print) doesn't mean they think more than anyone else.

soren faust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Palin is hot, and that's all that really matters. Did you see Biden undressing her with his eyes?

Anonymous said...

re: I certainly don’t work in a library; <<

That is quite a relief.

soren faust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
I'm Kat! said...

Anonymous said...
Palin is hot, and that's all that really matters. Did you see Biden undressing her with his eyes?

October 4, 2008 11:58 AM


Did you see MCCAIN undressing her with his eyes??? And what the heck is he doing touching his wedding ring while he stars at her backside???

[you can find the video on youtube; it the one where he introduces her to the country. watch Mccain while she speaks. It's really quite scary]

I enjoy political humor as there is a place for it. However, there is also an underlying understanding that this is the most serious office in our country, and thus there should be something resembling sanity at the base. Right now it is becoming clear ther is no sanity anywhere and we the people are finally reaping the rewards of our educaiotnal system. The free educaitonal system Jefferson set up to prepare our people to understand politics - NOT to get a job as modern pundants exert.

Perhaps I would make a good politician. Yes, I am long winded because I freely exercise my right to think. Think long enough and you will have a lot to say. Don't think and all you will be able to say is "WOW that's a long post how in the world did you have time to come up with that??"

Idiots.

Anonymous said...

Where do you get the connection between thinking and rambling? So everyone that rambles is a deep thinker? It's more like people that ramble can't organize their thoughts so they just keep spewing garbage. Please, keep thinking, but just keep your thoughts where they belong - to yourself.

I'm Kat! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
I'm Kat! said...

I'm sorry, but I cannot oversimplify everything into little five second sound bytes for you.

If all solutions could be stated in five second soundbytes, there would not be any problems in this world. Complex problems require wider analysis and lead to complex answers.

If we don't think like you do, then we need to shut up???? Who died and made YOU the queen of England???

Anonymous 3:56, your way of thinking is an enemy to our republic.

Anonymous said...

It's odd how the vice president debate had a much higher TV rating than the presidential debate, considering that the vice president is one of the least important positions in all of government. And people certainly weren't tuning in to look at Biden. Palin should have dropped her pen and bent over to pick it up. The ratings would have gone through the roof!

Anonymous said...

re: Yeah, we don't want anybody intelligent working in a library, or anything as subversive to the system as that.<<

Well, I'd certainly prefer we not have people working in public libraries, in positions of policy administration at least, who are upset that libraries "require our local lobrarys serve and reflect all of the needs of foreigners, community visitors, migrants," and who has take a cultural competency class yet still expresses annoyance that Native American groups' proprietary arguments about aspects of their culture that are private are actually honored on occasion.

So yeah, relieved that this person is not in a position to set policy in a public library. ALA code of ethics notwithstanding, I find both of these arguments disturbing from someone who has a recent degree from an accredited program.

One's personal beliefs are one's own, but I would rather not see these opinions, and some others that have been expressed, injected into policy development in US public libraries. Hopefully, the poster will mature into a more inclusive understanding of the role of US public libraries as the volunteer work brings greater contact with all the library's constituencies (not all of whom are taxpayers).

And that's my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Collection development is NOT censorship. That's positively absurb. One small, po-dunk library cannot buy or house every single book ever published. What is wrong with establishing a set of criteria on which to spend taxpayers' monies? God, I wish the feds would do that!

And a few things about collection development. Just because the librarian doesn't order the book doesn't mean that he or she won't EVER order the book. It doesn't mean that patrons will be prevented from requesting it or interlibrary loaning it. It doesn't mean the librarian will buy all available copies and burn them so no one else can read them. It doesn't mean the librarian is imposing his or her beliefs upon the library patrons. It just means that at one particular time, a librarian didn't order a book. Oh, the horror!

Banned Books Week is baloney. If you have displays with the actual books or have the actual books in the collection, they are not banned. Just look to the Middle East and China for real censorship. The ALA is a paranoid hypochondriac thinking they have serious ailments caused by someone else poisoning them.

And all those complaining about spending $25K+ to become video game experts, how about moving to a rural area and doing that without your precious library degree? There are many, many libraries in my area that don't require MLS for anything other than the director position. Childrens' and YA, Cataloging, ILL--all open for just any old Joe who walks in the door. You wouldn't be out the money for the worthless degree, but then your salary would really be nickels and dimes. Can't win them all.

I know this comment is all over the place. But after reading the post and all 89 comments, how can it not be jumbled? I'm a little late to the game this time.

Anonymous said...

re: One small, po-dunk library cannot buy or house every single book ever published. <<

You continue to miss the point. Banned books week is not about intelligently developed collection policies, which certainly recognize that no library can afford every book ever printed.

It IS about books that have been selected and acquired according to established collection development policies that are subsequently targeted for removal on political, ideological or religious grounds.

Anonymous said...

...or infernal meddling by politicians and concerned citizens into the collection development policies that librarians have developed.

It's also about stealing controversial books from the library to make sure people can't read them.

And it's also about politically charged library boards who think they know more about collection development than librarians.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, I thought it was Band Books Week. I was looking forward to reading about Led Zepellin.

Anonymous said...

And you miss my point.

"It IS about books that have been selected and acquired according to established collection development policies that are subsequently on political, ideological or religious grounds."

But those books are NOT banned. Banned is a totally different concept to those that actually experience it. The word Ban is very inflammatory and the ALA uses it purposefully for that reason.

And if the books are truly "selected and acquired according to established collection development policies", then the books should stand up to the scrutiny of a so-called "banning" attempt.

If a book is removed, it's a shame on that library board. But it's not banned. It's still available at the bookstore right next-door to the library. You can still borrow it from another library or a friend. You can buy it from Amazon.

You won't be arrested for owning it or reading it or even talking about it. You won't be detained for transporting it (unless you go to a country where it is truly banned). Now that's censorship.


What about "infernal meddling by politicians and concerned citizens into the collection development policies that librarians have developed"? Don't the concerned citizens, the taxpayers, have a right to question how their money is spent? (Yeah, I know it's a measly 25 cents per person or whatever, but still.) Don't libraries and librarians need to be held accountable, just like any other city department? I, for one, am glad we have a process set up where patrons can be heard at board meetings and express their concerns. (Keeps the patrons from yelling at us poor circ clerks all day!) But it still doesn't mean the board has honor every single request or even that they should.

"It's also about stealing controversial books from the library to make sure people can't read them." Apparently you're pyschic. How do you know who's doing and what their motives are? Usually our controversial books have their security tags taken out. They aren't checked out, so we have no idea who did it or why. They could actually want the books because they like them.

Anonymous said...

re: And you miss my point.<<

No, I don't miss it. I understand it and DISmiss it.

Anonymous said...

re: They aren't checked out, so we have no idea who did it or why.<<

When a concerned citizen tries to get a book banned, is unsuccessful, then checks out the book and when confronted publicly confirms that they are not going to return it because it shouldn't be available, you can be pretty sure who did it and why. This is a fairly common occurrence.

Anonymous said...

"No, I don't miss it. I understand it and DISmiss it." Let's just dismiss anything we don't agree with, shall we? Isn't that what 'book-banners' do?

BTW, that comment I made about "One small, po-dunk library cannot buy or house every single book ever published", was not about Banned Books Week. It was in response to earlier comments about whether COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT was censorship. What I said about BBW was about the about the use of the word "banned". You come back with all these concepts about BBW, which have nothing to do with what I said. So, who's really missing the point?

I, on the other hand, didn't dismiss your points; I quoted them and discussed them, even though I didn't need your help with the concepts behind Banned Books Week. I understand it perfectly. You didn't mention the one main concept: freedom. Did you forget that one?

Anonymous said...

"re: They aren't checked out, so we have no idea who did it or why.<<

When a concerned citizen tries to get a book banned, is unsuccessful, then checks out the book and when confronted publicly confirms that they are not going to return it because it shouldn't be available, you can be pretty sure who did it and why. This is a fairly common occurrence."

Really? Just how many occurences are there? I can think of only one major reporting of such a case. Give me numbers, with sources. At my library, I'll tell you the number. Zero.

I'm Kat! said...

Anonymous: October 4, 2008 9:51 PM

The library I volunteer for is very unlikely to change anything I believe. It serves a specific subset of the community and it extends its arms towards those opportunities that will increase patronage in that community. The collection development policies in this establishment are very narrow and pointed, serving only that one community; there are other libraries in town to serve other needs and no library can house everything. This library is rare among its type because it is fully open to the public. This library has no desire whatsoever to bring in those people who wish to put a different ideology in place, however, or who do not embrace or at least respect the views of the immediate community. If this library steps out of line from the policies of the community, the directors of the community will instantly remove it from existence.

I further fail to see how being culturally competent means I have to embrace all of the values of the left in concerns to any issues including the values of other cultures. Somehow I have to give up my cultural identity and that expectation is quite simply wrong. It is nothing further than a double standard. I accept and recognize other cultures, but I also recognize that cultures have spatial limits. When cultural boundaries do overlap, conflict is natural until the two converge into one and it will be this way for the rest of eternity.

I believe in local communities. The primary constituents of any community are those who have residency. Before “residency,” a person is simply a wanderer or a foreigner, and thus not a permanent part of the community. In order to gain residency, one must stay in a particular place for a long enough time to show the local population a serious intention to contribute to that community. With this residency comes the benefit of membership into the group.

One example of residency in action comes in the form of tuition rates at public universities. If you are not from the state, you or your family is not contributing to that state, but you are receiving benefits from the taxpayers in that state by attending that university. To handle this inequality, you are charged a higher rate for the same education and thus you receive a lower overall benefit that is more equal to that of an instate student.

The best overall library policy, in my mind, is one that does not give any one group any significance or preference whatsoever. The best collection development policy is one that meets the needs of the community constituency first and foremost, developing those collections most pertinent to the community’s needs. Library funds should be budgeted in response to how the community overall wishes it to be spent and not how one little portion of the community wants. User surveys are the single most important piece of paper in the entire process. Some of this may seem incongruent, but this a natural result of the process.

Anonymous: October 4, 2008 10:33 PM

You may be all over the place but that truly was quite fun!

In the new movement collection development that consciously rejects a book due to moral objections is indeed censorship at a local level. At this point I suppose they want it to become a free-for-all, or they want to remove one of the last few ethical duties left in this field that actually requires a little work and thus a little money. If the library does not order the book today, it does not matter; that means that someone tomorrow is not reading it because the librarian is still just ordering it. Someone somewhere did not have complete private access to material on the shelf. And then it becomes Censorship by time delay or by absence, you see? Censorship does not have to be static; it may be dynamic too.

The Podunk Community Library you describe sounds like the future of libraries across America.

Anonymous: October 4, 2008 11:45 PM

The current trend in the ALA fight pushes the definition of censorship so far back that everything you describe including simple removal from a shelf due to a moral objection is considered to be censorship. You are right in line with what ‘banning” really means, and while that might have once been the ALA definition, the line has been moved even further left. The ALA works by making baby steps; the goals are met and then revised to further advance the stone. Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.

The real reason ALA has probably moved the line of what constitutes censorship or a “banned book” is because if they didn’t, they would not have any modern books to showcase in the United States during this event. If the ALA didn’t move the line, then we in America would most certainly forget that in some parts of the world, our favorite books are not allowed.

I completely agree that communities should have the right to be concerned about the policies in effect in their local libraries. Community members who disagree should have a place to vent their frustration. If the library is routinely adding materials that are below the community’s decency standards, then perhaps there is a librarian who needs to find her community because this one is not hers? Then again, if it is one small segment of the community that most opposes these materials, then maybe they need to get up and go, or change their own viewpoints? There seems to be no easy solution to the problem. Just why must we have materials on our shelf about disgusting, offensive or embarrassing issues?

As the argument that I learned in school goes, some people are too embarrassed or uncomfortable asking for particular book. If the book is in the computer catalog and on the shelf, then the patron can get the book without revealing who they are; if they are uncomfortable with checking the book out, they may simply read it in the library without anyone else knowing. So if the book is unavailable on the shelf, then you are censoring the informational needs of the meek, the weak, and the paranoid.

And a note about the controversial books that disappear: these books only start disappearing after the group discovers no “real action” is being taken on their behalf by the library staff. Before this time, the books are left untouched and unmolested. In school I further met a student who actually witnessed a member from one of these groups take a book off the shelf, walk over to the trashcan, and calmly throw it away. You take these groups to be idiots? If they don’t get their way one way, they will find another!

Once the book is not on the shelf, the rest of the community no longer has free access to the book; the current ALA definition of censorship includes any abridgment of access, and thus, this is indeed active censorship. If the book is in a bookstore next door, the poor or “ner to do” do not have access, and without access that book is ‘banned” from those people who cannot afford it.

My only concern is that the people reading the books that rightfully should be banned will do something harmful to society with that information. For instance, we all agree the Iranians should not have information about the Atomic Bomb. Imagine if that information was in the library. Not everybody behaves in a responsible manner.

Anonymous; October 4, 2008 11:53 PM

To dismiss is to miss an opportunity of educational benefit for either yourself or others. You think no differently than the authoritative dictators we despise. They too simple Dismiss what they dislike; afterall, discussion may undermine their own position.

  said...

Well said, Anonymous. Too bad you are anonymous. If you want you own blog post, send it to me and I'll post it for you.

Anonymous said, "My only concern is that the people reading the books that rightfully should be banned will do something harmful to society with that information." That is a really interesting observation. Except since no books have been banned for many decades, perhaps "removed from the collection" or the like is better.

-SafeLibraries.org (my moniker is not appearing for some reason)

Anonymous said...

Please trim your posts. Quality not quantity.

Anonymous said...

re: "My only concern is that the people reading the books that rightfully should be banned will do something harmful to society with that information...Not everybody behaves in a responsible manner."

While I appreciate everything else you said, this statement irks me a bit. Not everyone is going to behave responsibly. Ever. Period. You can't ban something for the simple fact that some people won't be responsible with that information. What materials "rightfully should be banned"? Who decides? Where does it start and where does it end? Who's wrong and who's right?

(Taking a page from your own book since you said in an earlier comment: So which books are "Right?" and Who's point of View is "Right?" Who's Right?? I so very well remember my first good argument in the Introductory course and that final rhetorical question stopped all conservative arguments firmly in their tracks!)

Anonymous said...

The majority is right. That's the way the system works.

I'm Kat! said...

Anonymous October 5, 2008 10:59 AM;

You're absolutely correct. And for the reasons you have given we as librarian are to fork over just about anything to anyone when they ask for it.

But then you and I can certainly think of things that should not be available and are indeed censored on a routine basis in this Country.

Child Pornography is a perfect example of material that is censored in our society. If you possess this material, you will indeed experience legal issues. Naturally, since our country is nicer, you will not be beheaded, but you will go through prison and other penalties.

In this case, material is explicitly banned and censored because a group of people cannot act responsibly towards it. Even if the majority of people are either unaffected by this material, a small group is affected in a manner that our society views as wrong. So indeed we can censor and ban material based upon moral objections.

I suppose we could imagine a society where child pornography is acceptable and embraced, but then you and I will probably no doubt view that society's treatment of children to be wrong even though we are culturally competant. I agree that we can appreciate and accept other cultural groups as they are, but I personally draw the line when it comes to cultures with practices that purposely hurt others.

In our society we have identified some information as being more harmful then others in the wrong hands. This information has subsequently been banned and censored to the point there are legal repercussions for just possessing it.

But you are absolutley correct, in taking that page from my book, for that is the very arguement against banning even child pornography! I think I now understand why the ALA doesn;t come running to defend librarians who turn in Child Molesters viewing child pornography in the library!

I'm Kat! said...

104 posts on a recycled topic.

Not bad, AL, not bad!!!

Anonymous said...

"Child Pornography is a perfect example of material that is censored in our society....In this case, material is explicitly banned and censored because a group of people cannot act responsibly towards it....So indeed we can censor and ban material based upon moral objections."

Okay, you're thinking a bit broader than I was. I was already discounting materials and activities that were illegal. Child porn is illegal and rightfully so. Adult porn isn't illegal and, to me, it's perfectly normal in some situations. At a library is not one of them. Why not a library? Well, because it often used for sexual gratification. That's not something that belongs in a public building.

Let's use something that would fit within the context of a well-established collection development policy. How about sex education as an example? It's not illegal to possess sex education book, but some people find the topic to be controversial. Should a library ban books dealing the effects and consequences of sex just because a few people might act irresponsibily?

I'm Kat! said...

All the books we have so far described, from child pornography to adult pornography to sex educaiton itself is all of the same nature so it is all equally viable for this discussion. This is one taboo that exists in our culure, and we as part of the cultural majority understand it.

However, there may be other cultures where this is not a taboo. Other cultures may simply recognize it as nudity and natural and embrace it, and embrace sexuality, as in Europe.

Our culture recognizes this taboo as morally prepugnant, and we have made laws against it. This does not mean these things are universally morally incorrect or even morally incorrect in the first place. It only means that we don't like them here, and they are incorrect by our standards. As the argument goes, though, who's standards are correct?

I think this might be the best example to fully understand why some groups wish to ban or censor materials, either in a specific place or outright. To them this material is as bad as anything that is already illegal, and they would no doubt love to push legislation through that would make these materials outrightly illegal too.

Remember, something is not illegal until an artifical law is put in place outlawing it. That law had to be put in place by somebody; Laws are still being written, deleted, followed and ignored.

"Indecent exposure" is only about 25 years old, after all, even though it has been occuring forever. the difference is that now you will get a citation and maybe jail time, whereas before you might have gotten a laugh, a smirk, and a kick in the pants.

So what have I learned through my course of study?

The liberal librarians, holding up the Signs given to them by the ALA, would like to see everything in the entire universe on their library shelves. Their library is like the gunrack in the Matrix, and they want that sort of availability for every one of their Patrons. These librarins believe that since no two moral ethics agree, there is no possible way that anyone can judge which ethical code is right for that specific collection since it belongs to everyone.

Meanwhile, the conservative librarians hold strong to their territorial morals, acknowledging that it is the community who owns the library and thus the community who should have the say in what is and what is not available on those shelves. These are the "I know it when I see it" librarians and they acknowledge that some things are not allowed, period.

Anonymous said...

"However, there may be other cultures where this is not a taboo."

I'm pretty sure all cultures realize that child pornography is a bad thing, whether it's in their written laws or not.

Anonymous said...

"All the books we have so far described, from child pornography to adult pornography to sex educaiton itself is all of the same nature so it is all equally viable for this discussion."

Okay, then let's turn it away from nudity and sexuality. What about books about drug use (not necessarily how-to guides, just informative books about drugs and their effects)? Just because some people use/abuse drugs doesn't mean a library shouldn't have books on the topic. What about home improvement books? Should be ban those because some idiots will act irresponsibly and electrcute themselves trying to do their own electrical wiring?

Maybe I just am not a 'big picture' person, but I just can't get into rhetoric. I want specific examples.

"they would no doubt love to push legislation through that would make these materials outrightly illegal too". In my state, they came close. They tried to have a separate/parental-permission-only room for juvenile/YA books with any sexual references in them, even nonfiction. The primary focus was to target books on homosexuality, and then it snowballed into all sexual content. The legislators threatened to withhold funding (from all government levels and even donation monies) from any library that did not do this. It, fortunately, did not pass.

All of that stemmed from a parent objecting to childrens' book and running to the media instead of the library. Instead of the librarians and library board being involved to address the parents' concerns, it went directly to the politicians. Politicians should not make library policies.

So, while I don't have a Master's degree and haven't taken any courses on ethics, I do have first hand experience with these issues. I'd trust experience of rhetoric any day.

I'm Kat! said...

Anonymous October 5, 2008 4:45 PM:

Your assumption is dangerous; you presume to know what cultures you have never met think. Allow me to expand on this subject by sharing my own education in this matter. This education did not come in school, however; it came while I was simply out enjoying the company of other people.

One night when I was at the club, standing outside and talking to people, there was this drunken apache descendant. First, he told us how he was bored. Then he proceeded to tell us what his grandfather and his friends would do when they were bored. They would make war and go raid the Navajo; they would rape their women and steal their horses. This man concluded his story by saying how much he wished things were still like that today.

I firmly believe that rape and theft are both morally wrong. It is clear to me that this person is not of the same understanding, and 100 years ago neither was his local tribe. So even though our culture understands how some things are wrong, others do not have the same understanding. There may very well be a culture that does not respect children as we do.

The slippery slope thus begins – Who’s right? In this case, I believe it is the people who respect other people’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of property as they respect their own.

I'm Kat! said...

Anonymous October 5, 2008 3:00 PM

These questions you bring up could be used for all information someone might want to ban. I’m afraid I don’t have answers any better then anyone else’s on this subject; I do believe some materials should be withheld while others are perfectly acceptable. I am sure my judgment varies from others. The ALA’s response is simple: everything is allowed, because we don’t censor here – on any level.

“How about ________ as an example? It's not illegal to possess _____________ books, but some people find the topic to be controversial. Should a library ban books dealing with the effects and consequences of ______ just because a few people might act irresponsibly?”

I'm Kat! said...

Anon October 5, 2008 4:57 PM

Let me assure you that even though I do have the ALA accredited MLS, I have serious doubts about its worth. The program in all honesty felt a bit below even an undergraduate degree level, and perhaps AA at best. There were some stellar classes in it, but even in those classes we did not learn more then an introduction to the topic. I do not have the time or energy to go through another program, but I have been hearing the same doubts echoed by others.

Your sentiments show how the slippery slope is on both sides of the argument; on one hand, what should we ban, and on the other hand, what should we not ban. I think you would agree that a book on “How to Grow, Harvest, and Market Marijuana” should not be on the library shelf. Believe it or not, I HAVE seen this book [the title was something close], but it was not on a library shelf!! I have also read about books in one of my college reading assignments about books on how to improvise explosives using household ingredients and another book that will instruct you on how to build a cannon that will project a can of soda over 3,000 yards. Naturally, these latter books come with the “for academic use only” disclaimer. The author of this paper then asked “Just what academic purpose does firing a beer can 3,000 yards fill???”

Your Ethic shows you prefer to treat the problems on a case–by–case ethic [Utilitarian], which is perfectly acceptable. I tend to follow it myself.

Politicians exist for one purpose: to make Public Policy for their most vocal constituents [where “vocal” means “financially supportive.”] Politics allows the most un-educated, bigoted people to have an equal voice, even if that voice calls for the shutting up of those who disagree. Just who is right, ya know?

Anonymous said...

I was standing around outside a club once and a drunk guy told me that he could hit a golf ball 400 yards. I think he was Irish so I'm going to go ahead and assume all Irish people can hit golf balls 400 yards.

I'm Kat! said...

The problem is not the source. The problem is the truth that might be spoken by this source.

I realize that academia teaches us to discard and dismiss all information that is not published in a credible journal or a book published by a credible publisher. I have a different viewpoint that recognizes that all voices speak some truth, even if most of what they are saying is bullsh*t.

In this case, there's too many coincidences to dismiss this person outright. Indeed, if you know anything about Navajo/Apache relations you know these two groups have a deeply entrenched dislike for each other. If you take some time to go deeper into this toic, you will find that indeed, in pre-Anglo America there were a number of Native American groups who routinely practiced ethics which should make any of us cringe today. There is a reason the Lakota tribes are called the Sioux by their enemies.

So when this one person says these things, and it is clear to me at least that this person would never gain a voice in the academic press, I cannot entirely dismiss everything he says as simple jibberish. As the weekly drinkers say, sometimes the best way to get the truth out of people is to get them drunk, and then they open up in ways you never imagined.

If you go through your life only listening to the academic voices, you will miss much of what this world has to say, and along with it any truth that actually resides with those people. The Academic Voice cannot solve the world's problems if it ignores those parts or people it doesn't like. So take your salt cellar, and learn how to listen!

Anonymous said...

So the drunk indian guy gets credibility because of something that happened several hundered years ago, plus the fact that he uses a non-academic voice? I guess you can twist any logic to fit your argument if you try hard enough.

I'm Kat! said...

The drunken indian gets credibility because he is a living, breathing, thinking human being.

And he is a reflection of those who have influenced his life.

I go through life examining the argument first and the person who said the argument second. I suppose if I gave only "qualified" voices credibility I could save myself many years of thinking, but then I would obviously miss truth somewhere, sometime.

Are you at all familiar with John Staurt Mills??? Or do you simply gloss over articles hearing only the parts that agree with your preconceptions?

soren faust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I wish I was drunk right now.

Maybe then what you say would make more sense and/or I could see the "truth" in it.

Anonymous said...

"Are you at all familiar with John Staurt Mills???"

Yes, I love his show! Although I've recently been watching more of Stephen Colbert.

I'm Kat! said...

Soren, there are indeed lessons to be learned from them. For starters, active racism is still alive in America.

We could go deeper, but I think that is a good start and I will leave it at that.

Your average pedophile provides us with another truth: there are still people out there with really wacky ethical codes, which is why we must stay vigilant against predators at all ages and watch over our children.

Osama Bin Laden has truth as well: not everyone in the world loves america, and some of them dislike it so much they will do harm to us.

So you see, there is something to be gained from every voice.

Anonymous said...

re: Really? Just how many occurences are there? I can think of only one major reporting of such a case. Give me numbers, with sources. At my library, I'll tell you the number. Zero.<<


It just means either you don't really work in a library, or your library is lucky, or you don't pay attention. There is a fair amount in the literature about this problem. For example,

Curry et al (2000). Theft and Mutilation of Library Materials:
Coping with Biblio-Bandits. Library & Archival Security, Vol. 15(2) 2000by The Haworth Press, Inc

Censorship by patrons or staff is also a commonly cited motive for
theft and vandalism of books in these subject areas. Mosley (1996)
observes that items patrons have previously requested be removed
suffer a high incidence of theft. He speculates that if librarians refuse to remove books through orthodox methods, self-appointed censors may take matters into their own hands. Controversial religious and political groups may also mutilate books that portray them in a negative light. Curry (1997) also found that staff members may sometimes be involved in ‘‘unauthorized weeding’’ ventures, prompted by their
disapproval of the type of material which they must check out and shelve.

Stop wasting my time.

Anonymous said...

re: It just means either you don't really work in a library, or your library is lucky, or you don't pay attention....Stop wasting my time.

I do work in a public library. I work circulation and shelving, so the books are my business. I do pay attention to what goes in and out, the condition of the books, and what is often overdue or missing/lost/stolen. Maybe we're lucky, but the only one books that get stolen that we have physical evidence of (security tags, barcodes, ripped covers) are YA fiction, graphic novels, and popular fiction. The more controversial stuff just checks out and never returns, without patrons declaring their motives for being "self-appointed censors". Or is misshelved, or lost (presumably stolen). Our most-stolen item is the ASVAB test guide. Gee, perhaps it's stolen by those that oppose the military. Or, more likely, it was stolen by someone taking the test.

In my 7 years in this library, we have only had one "book challenge", and that was not a removal request. It was a request to move a book from the juvenile section to the YA section. Sure we get the "book editors" who write in the books, mark over the curse words, etc. Most often, we just get people who comment in passing about the lack of a writer's ability (i.e. that book was horrible, this was the author's worst book yet, too much sex in that one for me). The one thing these commentors have in common is that they all go back to the shelves to find something else to suit their tastes. They don't try to have the books removed.

Oh, and I live in the Bible Belt. In a town that is composed of primarily rich, white, retired, and good Christian folks...you know, the ones who are stereotypically the book-banners. Yet we have never had any public protests about any books, nor anyone admitting they stole a book because they objected to it.

And finally, I didn't waste your time...you did. You didn't have to respond. I didn't ask you; I was directing that question at 'I'm Kat' in the course of discussing things. But if you want to waste more time, why not find more current sources. 2000? That's so 8 years ago! Geez.

Anonymous said...

122+ posts on a recycled topic!

Of course 118 of them are rambling pieces of tripe that nobody is really reading.

Time to move on.

Nothing to read here.

Including this post.

soren faust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Some people will never learn that part of writing is knowing the medium you are writing for.

Comments on a blog.

Short sweet and to the point.

Want to write your 95 Theses? Go ahead and then take them and nail them to the ALA's door.

Anonymous said...

afraid I can't be bothered reading so many comments so i'll just say this:
In my degree our lecturers basically told us to make a 'challenge policy' that requires a whole bunch of people, including the librarian/s and the challenger/s to read the book, discuss it blah blah blah in the hopes of either a)forcing them to abandon their challenge through sheer boredom generated by bureaucracy, or b)coming to an agreement about the item in question (bringing its merits or otherwise to the attention of parties through thorough examination and discussion).

I know that these books even when removed aren't 'Banned' but it is much catchier than 'challenged' and I for one see no reason to give any more ground to idiots than they already have :) I mean come on, Penguins? They were worried about potentially gay Penguins?

Anonymous said...

oh wow I got bored halfway through that comment discussion between Kat and Anon. but i'd just like to stick my little fly in Anon's ointment - I have been in a Primary School (read elementary school) teachers unit where the whole "ooh, you scary bad supporter of the dominant culture you" discussion happened. They nearly burnt someone at the stake for suggesting that perhaps it wasn't entirely ethical to do "blue eyes/brown eyes" with 6 yr olds. They decided it meant she was racist as some children of different ethnicities had to deal with racism bullying and oppression all the time. She said that she got that and sympathised but that you still had a duty of care issue and had to get parental permission. She also made the point that it doesn't necessarily follow that if you allow some kids to be traumatised that you should then actively traumatise the rest to give them sympathy. She just wanted to raise the ethical issue but they howled her down and wouldn't engage with the idea at all, it was just a matter of "you are racist". I know this woman and she certainly is not racist but she is an intelligent woman with a grasp of the complexities of ethics and duty of care. They reall didn;t care, they were seriously suggesting that it was every primary school teacher's duty to go and do 'blue eyes/brown eyes' with kids without any consideration of permission, duty of care, or potential psychological trauma. There are some crazies out there, even in academia, who are so paranoid about supporting non-dominant cultures and disempowered groups that they see any kind of potential support for the dominant culture as a threat. I really do mostly share these crazies views, except that I can tell the difference between empowering someone and disempowering someone else.

Anonymous said...

re: "but i'd just like to stick my little fly in Anon's ointment -"

There's no fly in my ointment. And I got bored halfway through your post. Moving on.