Valerie Nye is the Library Director at the Santa Fe Community College. She previously worked as a library director at the Institute of American Indian Arts and 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 coedited a book with Kathy Barco, True Stories of Censorship Battles in America’s Libraries, and a literary research guide with R. Neil Scott, Postmarked Milledgeville: A Guide to Flannery O'Connor's Correspondence in Libraries and Archives. She currently serves on the board of Amigos Library Services and holds an MLIS from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- Table of Contents
- About the Authors
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.
Part I: Sometimes We're Our Own Worst Enemy: When Library Employees Are Censors
Chapter 1 Where There Once Was None
Chapter 2 Well-Intentioned Censorship Is Still Censorship: The Challenge of Public Library Employees
Chapter 3 If I Don't Buy It, They Won't Come
Chapter 4 Mixed-Up Ethics
Part II: How Dare You Recommend This Book to a Child: Reading Levels and Sophisticated Topics
Chapter 5 Clue-less in Portland
Chapter 6 Vixens, Banditos, and Finding Common Ground
Chapter 7 Long Live the King (Novels)!
Chapter 8 Parent Concern about Classroom Usage Spills Over into School Library
Chapter 9 The Princess Librarian: An Allegory
Chapter 10 The Complexity and Challenges of Censorship in Public Schools: Overstepping Boundaries, Cultivating Compassionate Conversations
Part III: Not Only Boy Scouts Should Be Prepared: Building Strong Policies
Chapter 11 I Owe It All to Madonna
Chapter 12 The Battle to Include
Chapter 13 Pornography and Erotica in an Academic Library
Chapter 14 Reasonable Accommodation: Why Our Library Created Voluntary Kids Cards
Part IV: When the Tribe Has Spoken: Working with Native American Collections
Chapter 15 Cultural Sensitivity or Censorship?
Chapter 16 Developing the Public Library's Genealogy Euchee/Yuchi Collection
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
Chapter 18 The Respect of Fear
Chapter 19 Sweet Movie
Chapter 20 Censorship Avoided: Student Activism in a Texas School District
Chapter 21 I Read It in the Paper
Chapter 22 Uncle Bobby's Wedding
Chapter 23 A Community Divided
Chapter 24 The Author Visit That Should Have Been
Chapter 25 One of Those Not So Hideous Stories of a Book Challenge
Part VI: Crime and Punishment: When Library Patrons Have Committed a Crime
Chapter 26 A Serial Killer Visits the Library
Chapter 27 Books, Bars, and Behavior: Censorship in Correctional Libraries
Part VII: Perhaps It Is Possible to Judge a Book by Its Cover: Displays
Chapter 28 The Ghost of Halloween Past
Chapter 29 The Neophyte in the New Age
Chapter 30 Gay Books Display Brings Out High School Faculty Prejudice
Chapter 31 Censorship Looms Over the Rainbow
"These stories, which are all short and well-written, provide some inspirational examples of librarians who are fighting for user access to materials."
"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."
"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."