Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Banned Books Week, 2008

This week is the American Library Association’s annual celebrated Banned Books week. There are no banned books in the United States, of course. The “banned books” are books that have been challenged by concerned parents.

If--as a hypothetical example--you found a children’s book in your local library which contained graphic illustrations of people having sex with animals and you complained to the librarian, your complaint could be logged with the American Library Association. If enough parents complained, the book might make the “banned books list” and be celebrated by the American Library Association!

I mentioned this to one of my regular readers and he wondered how the libraries would do on books written by John McCain and Barack Obama. Fortunately, there is a library tool that provides such information. It is called WorldCat. I checked WorldCat for the books written by John McCain and Barack Obama. The number at the left is the number of WorldCat libraries which own each book:

3,183 The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
2,876 Dreams from my Father by Barack Obama
2,500 Faith of My Fathers by John McCain
1,526 Worth the Fighting for by John McCain

Looks to me like John McCain’s books have been “banned” in some libraries. Maybe they should be on the banned books list (Hat tip: Kevin)

UPDATE: Please see the excellent post about Banned Books Week on Safe Libraries.


Alcamadus said...


Are there any reasons why these books would be requested to be banned?

professor ed said...

There is no question that the American Library Association tilts to the left. I belong to it only for the benefits of ACRL. When I retire, I will have nothing to do with ALA.

Dennis said...

By "these books" do you mean McCain's books? If so, I suspect it is because so many librarians are "progressives" who are not nearly as "fair and balanced" as the pretend to be.

If you are referring to books on the banned books list, it is because some parents have concerns about the content of a few books that "progressive" librarians are adding to the children's book section of their libraries.

As for adult books on the banned books list, some (unfortunately, often Evangelical Christians)object to some of the books in their public libraries and they are misguided enough to think they should try to remove them.

Public libraries are funded by everyone's tax dollars and it is really counter productive for misguided Evangelicals to try to remove books they disagree with. Other tax payers should have their views represented too.

What Evangelicals should be doing instead, is pointing out that while librarians often pretend to be fair and balanced they are anything but!

This is not just about John McCain and Barack Obama! Try to find a fair representation of Intellilgent Design or creationist books in your public library?

Try to find a fair collection of books opposing abortion, homosexual behavior, or same-sex marriage in your public library.

Try to find a good collection of books by Evangelical publishers like Baker, Intervarsity Press, Zondervan, Broadman & Holman, Crossway, or Thomas Nelson--on any subject--in your public library.

Although Evangelicalism is a huge subset of American culture, most librarians have never even heard of these publishers!

Librarians fantasize themselves to be the warriors against censorship in American, all the while they are effectively "censoring" books they disagree with by refusing to add them to their collections.

Like books by John McCain. Think about it. Although both McCain and Obama are running for president, John McCain is a war hero who has been in Congress for 25 years. Obama, until recently, was a relatively unknown who is still in his first term. Yet both of Obama's books are in many more libraries than either of John McCain's books.

I'm sure creative minds could imagine several possible reasons for this disparity, but one of those possible reasons is unabashed political bias.

Dennis said...

P.S. When I was in the M.A. program in library science at the Univeristy of Missouri, our textbook on collection development recommended that we avoid books on religion because religion was a divisive issue on which so many people disagreed!

It was notable that the book did not recommend avoiding books on economics, social issues, politics, ethics, business practices, science, etc., even though people disagree about them and they can be divisive!

And this was in a textbook arguing against censorship! The blind hypocrisy was stunning!

SafeLibraries.org said...

Wow! Your blog post stands out in a sea of ALA propaganda as one of the very, very few blogs and media not repeating the ALA propaganda! Wow!

You may be interested in the following, then, especially the bulleted list of articles at the bottom:

"National Hogwash Week"

Dennis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dennis said...

Safe Libraries:

Thank you for your post. I updated my post to include a link to your site.

Since my days in library school over 20 years ago I have been an opponent of ALA liberal hypocrisy when it comes to censorship. Numerous studies have shown that in spite of all their high sounding words against censorship, the ALA, in reality, appears to be very selective in their actual fight against censorship.

For example, in addition to the examples I cited in my original post, while the ALA has a whole week devoted to mocking parents who question some books in libraries, the ALA seems to be totally silent about Islamic terrorists who threaten to murder authors and blow up publishing houses!

In ALA thinking it is apparently OK to attack concerned parents but it just wouldn't be politically correct to criticize any aspect of Islam even though a few Muslim radicals pose a much greater threat to free speech than all the so-called "censors" the ALA attacks in their Banned Books Week put together!

SafeLibraries.org said...

Then there is the issue the the ALA's support for the Cuban dictator:

"Banned Books Week Hypocrisy Publicized," by Robert Kent, The Friends of Cuban Librarians, 30 September 2008.

Norma said...

Banning in libraries is done by just not purchasing titles the staff don't approve of, or dawdling so long that if they are timely, the public has lost interest and gone to the book store. I had to request that my PL buy a current book on Lutherans. The newest was 40 years old, and we have one of the largest Lutheran churches in the midwest in our town, plus 2 smaller ones.

Dennis said...


You're absolutely right! "Banning" is also accomplished when librarians "weed" books they deem to be politically incorrect!

Most churches have libraries. One big reason for this is because Christians know that their views will NOT be represented in local public libraries.

SafeLibraries said...

Norma, since you are Lutheran, this is for you:

American Minute with Bill Federer
October 7:

Henry Melchior Muhlenberg died OCTOBER 7, 1787.

One of the founders of the Lutheran Church in America, his son John Peter was a pastor promoted to Major-General in the Continental Army, then elected to Congress.

Another son, Frederick, was a pastor who became the first Speaker of the House.

Both sons served in the first U.S. Congress and passed the First Amendment.

Henry Muhlenberg pastored the German congregations near Valley Forge during the Revolution.

In The Notebook of a Colonial Clergyman, Henry Muhlenberg wrote:

"I heard a fine example today, namely that His Excellency General Washington rode around among his army yesterday and admonished each to fear God, to put away wickedness...and to practice Christian

Rev. Muhlenberg continued:

"From all appearances General Washington does not belong to the so-called world of society, for he respects God's Word, believes in the atonement through Christ, and bears himself in humility and gentleness.

Therefore, the Lord God has also singularly, yea, marvelously preserved him from harm in the midst of countless perils, ambuscades, fatigues, etc., and has hitherto graciously held him in his hand as a chosen vessel."