Thursday, November 20, 2008

Banned Books

I'm sure most readers have heard of the American Library Association's "Banned Books Week" during which the ALA celebrates "banned books" and leaves the impression that freedom of speech is under attack by religious loonies who want to ban your books.

Most of you probably know that none of the books on these lists are actually "banned." They are just a list of books about which someone, somewhere had the audacity to actually question some librarian. How dare you, a mere citizen, challenge an all-knowing guardian of the books!

For example, if you were to suggest to a librarian that a book about sex with animals might be inappropriate in the children's collection of your public library, the librarian could submit an electronic form to the Office of Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association. If enough people expressed concerns about that book, it would be included in the ALA's nationally published list of "banned books."

In the latest edition of American Libraries Direct there is a short blurb entitled, "Feeling Challenged?" in which the ALA, "striving to be as comprehensive as possible" encourages librarians to submit their reports of any challenged books. The ad also provides a convenient link to the challenge form.

In order to justify their existence, the ALA's Office of Intellectual Freedom has to convince people that American libraries are under attack from the "censors." Yet, when they have to advertise for challenged books, it makes me wonder if perhaps business has been a bit slow lately at the Office of Intellectual Freedom.

I wonder if they are feeling the need to drum up a little business.

1 comment:

Jason said...

Doesn't it make sense to censor ridiculously inappropriate material just like we do with television and movies? Why would this be a problem?