Banned Books Week

30 Sep

This week is Banned Books Week (info: banned-books.org.uk and bannedbooksweek.org).

You might be surprised how many (and which!) books are challenged and ban. Personally I think that book censorship can come in the form of reclassification of a book where the book’s intended audience won’t find it, or quiet withdrawal of the book from the library shelves. How do you decide the difference between personal objection and classification issues?

Personally, I believe that it is up to the reader (and, for younger readers, sometimes the reader’s parents) to decide whether a book is appropriate for them. Teenagers are fairly skilled at deciding whether material feels “right” for them. Of course, every reader was different. I was the type who always sought out illicit material, but many teens shy away from that sort of thing! It really depends on the individual. I believe that while librarians help shape book collections, that it isn’t our job to judge individual books or assume that we can make decisions for readers, teen or otherwise.

I know that not everyone shares my opinions, and would be interested in hearing about your experiences. Have books been challenged or banned in your library? If so, by whom, and what was the outcome? Have you ever challenged a book? Where do you draw the line between censorship and good taste, or appropriateness? I would love to hear from people with varying perspectives on this issue.

One last note: the September issue of Teen Librarian Monthly talks about Banned Book Week and a slew of other interesting things, so have a look at that, too!

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One Response to “Banned Books Week”

  1. Lee Mumbray-Williams October 3, 2011 at 09:10 #

    Interesting piece on banned books. I agree with the general belief that we should not censor orur stock – though with stripped-down budgets one has to make some decisions as to what we can purchase in terms ofpotential readership and value for money. For secondary school librarians there is the difficulty: of tiny budgets: we need to meet the needs of a readership with a huge range of , reading abilities and emotional maturity, from “young” 11 year olds to adult readers in the sixth form and staff. I try to have a huge range of fiction to stimulate the imaginations of all, but there are times when, if a very young pupil tries to borrow a book with an adult theme, I contact parents to find out how they feel about it. I have also “hidden” for example Hunter S. Thomson so he will be found by students who askfor him.

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