Monday, October 5, 2009

Banned books and library hypocrisy

I felt guilty for not making a post about celebrating "Banned Books Week" last week, but I thought that there were probably enough librarians, teachers, and others already talking about it, and I was lazy. Actually, as I was changing out our library's "read a banned book" display this morning I felt a bit silly because few of the books actually moved off of the display. I don't think this was because our patrons were offended or in favor of censorship, but rather it isn't such a big deal since I believe the majority of the books in the display have been on local high schools' reading lists for quite awhile.
I made the display because all the branches were encouraged to do so, but at the same time I'm making the display for 1984 and Catcher in the Rye, a few feet away is our graphic novel section which is largely classified as adult material, although most of the series are geared toward teenagers and are labeled as young adult in other library systems. While working in a fairly metropolitan, liberal area, I am often caught off guard when I come across titles like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, or Ready or Not? A Girl's Guide to Making Her Own Decisions About Dating, Love, and Sex, or another teen resource book about teen dating violence that are all cataloged as adult materials. One could argue that at least they are technically available at the library, but their circulation numbers are lower (and practically nonexistent for the non-fiction materials) when compared to neighboring systems that rightly classify them as YA. Since I was encouraged to make the banned books display, I wonder what my system would have done if I had instead made a display of titles that were being subjected to a form of internal censorship.
But then again I'd rather just keep my job and not get any annoying emails.

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