professornana (professornana) wrote,


There has been a discussion on one of the professional listservs about restricting access to books. Let me explain. Some schools have a wide range of students. K-12, 6-12, etc. Since the school library collections need to reflect the range of students, there has been some discussion about whether it is the duty of the librarian to restrict students' access to books intended for older audiences. This is, indeed, a stick wicket, and I have so appreciated the reasonable discussion taking place.

The original person who posted quoted from ALA, "Parents - and only parents - have the right and responsibility to restrict access of their children - and only their children - to library resources. Parents who do not want their children to have access to certain library services, materials, or facilities should advise their children. Librarians and library governing bodies cannot assume the role of parents or the functions of parental authority in the private relationship between parent and child." I think this is a good policy. But how to handle an administrator who insists that the librarian verify the appropriateness of each book checked out by each student?

I know some libraries have used spine labels and stickers to separate, for instance, middle school books from high school books. But what should we do if an 8th graders wants to check out a book labeled for high school? How can we differentiate, make judgments, restrict access? When might this become censorship?

There are no easy answers. Earlier this week I was posed a similar question by a students in a YA class where I was Skyping in to talk about censorship. We had a wonderful and calm discussion about developmental appropriateness, about triggers, about parental concerns. There were no easy answers from me or anyone else in the class.

But these are some of the things we need to discuss. Even a classroom library needs to reflect a range of ages, interests, preferences, etc. How do we handle this? What should we do? What should we "refuse" to do?
Tags: censorship, selection
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