Attention librarians!

Or people interested in the library profession. Or people who use libraries.

I’d like your opinion on self-censorship. My focus is self-censorship in the school library media center, but any opinions about the issue in any library setting will interest me, so bring’em on.

To get you started, here are some questions for your consideration:

  1. How do you define self-censorship?
  2. When, if ever, is self-censorship appropriate?
  3. What subject areas, in your experience or opinion, most often fall prey to self-censorship?
  4. What can we as librarians do to minimize self-censorship?

Feel free to ask or address any other questions–your help is most appreciated.


2 thoughts on “Attention librarians!

  1. 3 is easiest, so I’ll tackle that now and come back later for the rest:

    -religion
    -sex
    -politics

    Especially in school libraries.

  2. Argh! Having difficulty being articulate. Random thoughts:
    -sometimes it’s an issue when looking at one’s entire collection, other times it’s more apparent when considering the purchase of a single title
    -a library does need to be responsive to the needs of its particular community, but there’s a fine line between that and censorship (e.g. if you are a school library and have a lot of parents with strong religious beliefs, do you refuse to buy Harry Potter? I know at least one librarian who does, and that feels like censorship to me)
    -“age-appropriateness” becomes a challege in the arena of censorshoip or not. I find myself feeling uncomfortable when I don’t purchase a book because I think it’s too mature (typically meaning it’s either too violent or has too much of an emphasis on relationships or sexuality) for the majority of my patrons. this is tricky when one has 4 to 11 year olds.
    -but then you have to deal with the reality of a finite budget, too. it’s not possible to buy every book, so sometimes thinking about money helps me decide whether or not to buy a title about which I have qualms
    -I try to put myself in the shoes of my patrons to avoid self-censorship (and remember what it was like to be a 7 year old who could read at a high school level) If I wouldn’t want to be denied the opportunity to read the book, is it fair to do it to someone else?

    I hope some of these ramblings are of vague use to you. They’re certainly not very well presented!

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