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True Stories of Censorship Battles in America's Libraries
Edited by Valerie Nye and Kathy Barco
Item Number: 978-0-8389-1130-3
Publisher: ALA Editions
Price: $58.00
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200 pages
6" x 9"
ISBN-13: 978-0-8389-1130-3
Year Published: 2012
AP Categories: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, Z

Listen to a podcast with Kathy Barco and read a sample of the book now!

Intellectual freedom is a core value of librarianship, but fighting to keep controversial materials on the shelves can sometimes feel like a lonely battle. And not all censorship controversies involve the public objecting to a book in the collection—libraries are venues for displays and meetings, and sometimes library staff themselves are tempted to preemptively censor a work. Those facing censorship challenges can find support and inspiration in this book, which compiles dozens of stories from library front lines. Edifying and enlightening, this collection
  • Tells the stories of librarians who withstood difficult circumstances to champion intellectual freedom
  • Touches on prickly issues such as age-appropriateness, some librarians’ temptation to preemptively censor, sensitive cultural expressions, and criminality in the library
  • Presents case studies of defenses that were unsuccessful, so librarians facing similar challenges can learn from these defeats 
There are fewer situations more stressful in a librarian's professional life than being personally confronted with a demand to remove a book from the shelves or not knowing how to respond to other kinds of censorship challenges. Reading this book will help fortify and inform those in the fray.
Table of Contents

Foreword, by Ellen Hopkins

Part I: Sometimes We’re Our Own Worst Enemy: When Library Employees Are Censors
Chapter 1    Where There Once Was None
 Lucy Bellamy
Chapter 2    Well-Intentioned Censorship Is Still Censorship: The Challenge of Public Library Employees
Ron Critchfield and David M. Powell
Chapter 3    If I Don’t Buy It, They Won’t Come
Peggy Kaney
Chapter 4    Mixed-Up Ethics
Susan Patron

Part II: How Dare You Recommend This Book to a Child: Reading Levels and Sophisticated Topics
Chapter 5    Clue-less in Portland
Natasha Forrester
Chapter 6    Vixens, Banditos, and Finding Common Ground
Alisa C. Gonzalez
Chapter 7    Long Live the King (Novels)!
Angela Paul
Chapter 8    Parent Concern about Classroom Usage Spills Over into School Library
Laurie Treat
Chapter 9    The Princess Librarian: An Allegory
Sherry York
Chapter 10    The Complexity and Challenges of Censorship in Public Schools: Overstepping Boundaries, Cultivating Compassionate Conversations
Marie-Elise Wheatwind

Part III: Not Only Boy Scouts Should Be Prepared: Building Strong Policies
Chapter 11    I Owe It All to Madonna
Lisë Chlebanowski
Chapter 12    The Battle to Include
Gretchen Gould
Chapter 13    Pornography and Erotica in an Academic Library
Michelle Martinez
Chapter 14    Reasonable Accommodation: Why Our Library Created Voluntary Kids Cards
Matt Nojonen

Part IV: When the Tribe Has Spoken: Working with Native American Collections
Chapter 15    Cultural Sensitivity or Censorship?
Susanne Caro
Chapter 16    Developing the Public Library’s Genealogy Euchee/Yuchi Collection
Cathlene Myers Mattix

Part V: Conversation + Confrontation + Controversy = Combustion: Vocal Organization and Publicly Debated Challenges
Chapter 17    32 Pages, 26 Sentences, 603 Words, and $500,000 Later: When School Boards Have Their Way
Lauren Christos
Chapter 18    The Respect of Fear
Amy Crump
Chapter 19    Sweet Movie
Sydne Dean
Chapter 20    Censorship Avoided: Student Activism in a Texas School District
Robert Farrell
Chapter 21    I Read It in the Paper
Hollis Helmeci
Chapter 22    Uncle Bobby’s Wedding
James LaRue
Chapter 23    A Community Divided
Kristin Pekoll
Chapter 24    The Author Visit That Should Have Been
Karin Perry
Chapter 25    One of Those Not So Hideous Stories of a Book Challenge
Kathryn Prestidge

Part VI: Crime and Punishment: When Library Patrons Have Committed a Crime
Chapter 26    A Serial Killer Visits the Library
Paul Hawkins
Chapter 27    Books, Bars, and Behavior: Censorship in Correctional Libraries
Erica MacCreaigh

Part VII: Perhaps It Is Possible to Judge a Book by Its Cover: Displays
Chapter 28    The Ghost of Halloween Past
Kathy Barco
Chapter 29    The Neophyte in the New Age
Rosemary J. Kilbridge
Chapter 30    Gay Books Display Brings Out High School Faculty Prejudice
Nadean Meyer
Chapter 31    Censorship Looms Over the Rainbow
Cindy Simerlink

Discussion Questions

About the Editors

Valerie Nye is the Library Director at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. She previously worked as a library consultant at the New Mexico State Library, where she started researching and training others on intellectual freedom and banned books. She has coauthored two guide books with Kathy Barco, and one literary research guide with R. Neil Scott, Postmarked Milledgeville: A Guide to Flannery O’Connor’s Correspondence in Libraries and Archives. Nye is a trustee on the board of the New Mexico Library Foundation.

Kathy Barco is a Library Consultant, having recently retired from Albuquerque’s public library system, where she was Literacy Coordinator. She contributed to Thinking Outside the Book: Essays for Innovative Librarians and wrote the foreword to Librarians As Community Partners: An Outreach Handbook. Barco’s READiscover New Mexico: A Tri-Lingual Adventure in Literacy won a New Mexico Book Award. She is on the board of the New Mexico Library Foundation and received the New Mexico Library Association’s Leadership Award in 2006.

"These stories, which are all short and well-written, provide some inspirational examples of librarians who are fighting for user access to materials."
--Information Today

"An impressive work of considerable and diverse scholarship ... mandatory reading for library professionals, as well as free speech advocates and library patrons with an interest in library censorship issues."
--Internet Bookwatch

"In the introduction, editors Nye and Barco write: “We hope that this book provides insights into how librarians protect the First Amendment in their communities.' The editors have succeeded, as readers of this book will understand that many librarians have learned that defending the First Amendment can be stressful and difficult — though ultimately rewarding."
--First Amendment Center

"Serves as a valuable reminder for librarians to be aware of the varied forms censorship and our own cultural contexts and biases, while recognizing that libraries belong to everyone."
--Colorado Libraries

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