Thursday, July 24, 2008

What are we scared of -- Censorship

In my last post, I talked about public library funding, in the same issue of AL Direct, there was a link to a post on the YALSA blog titled "What are we scared of?"

This is a critical issues, not just for librarians serving youth, but for all librarians. However, it seems that it is those who serve young people who are most likely to feel under fire.

Linda Braun does a great job of covering the topic, and as of this morning there are several thoughtful responses. Sue Wargo made a particularly telling admission when she wrote "I found over the past few years that since I took greater risks and provided a broader selection that my circulation has gone up dramatically." The public, particularly the teen public, recognizes when we take risks. Ellen Snoeyenbos had a great comment about her having been "banned" from doing book talks at the high school after she talked about a book that "made parents nervous." She noted several areas: "In our community issues such as cutting, suicide, and depression are worrisome to parents - not just sex." I look at that list, and I think about some of the young people (and even some in their twenties) for whom all three of the issues are important, and at the same time very hard to find information on. I have a friend here in Eau Claire (who is actually a smidge older than me) who has recently discovered that she not only has issues with depression, but also ADHD. These are medical issues which are not limited.

It is a critical role of the public library to have the information which people need -- even if it makes other people "uncomfortable."

Now, I worked only briefly as a "Young Adult Librarian" (back when I actually was a young adult). I have been an administrator for the past quarter century (wait, make that 25 years, it does not seem as long then). One of my cardinal rules has been that if "my" library does not have at least one thing which is not liked by every person in the community, then the collection development team has not been doing its job. As the library, and the source of information for the whole community, we must take on this role.

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