Banned Books

Censorship, Selection & Banned Books

Banned Books Week kicked off yesterday.

I love Banned Books Week. It is a whole week dedicated to awesome stuff like celebrating our freedom to read and highlighting our right to access diverse material of our own choosing at our school and public libraries. And, equally as awesome, it is a reminder of the guarantee that librarians will protect our privacy when it comes to what we choose to read, check out, and research.

As this week approached, I encountered a number of in-person and online discussions about book challenges, reading choice, and student privacy that spurred me to think deeply about books that have been challenged at school libraries throughout the past year. Even more than that, though, I’ve been thinking about books that didn’t make it to a library’s shelf because of self-censorship or the fear of community reaction.

The following articles are useful in developing a better understanding of the manner in which censorship can creep into collection development:

Not Censorship But Selection by Lester Asheim

“Not Censorship But Selection,” by Lester Asheim is a brief read that helps frame the discussion about the difference between banning or removing a book from a library and the thoughtful selection of materials appropriate for inclusion in a collection. First published in the Wilson Library Bulletin in September 1953, this article stands the test of time in explaining the sometimes blurry line between censorship and selection.

Worth Fighting For: Factors Influencing Selections Decisions in School Libraries by April Dawkins

“Worth Fighting For: Factors Influencing Selections Decisions in School Libraries” is a doctoral dissertation by April Dawkins that explores book selection and self-censorship in school library environments. I am excited to be working my way through this right now, and grateful to Ms. Dawkins and to the Scholar Commons for providing open access to this work.

American Library Association | Professional Ethics

American Library Association | Privacy Guidelines for Students in K-12 Schools

Just For Fun: Flashback to a Few Favorite Banned Books Week Moments