I am currently taking a Public Libraries Management class. It is an online class and each week the teacher posts a controversial issue that public libraries face. We must post a reply stating how we, as the directors of the library, would deal with the situation. We then respond to each others posts and this can lead to lengthy discussions depending on the topic and the comments. These topics have been interesting so far and it is a good way for us to get to know each other and display our knowledge of libraries and procedures and our opinions about these issues.
Some of these issues have been: How to accommodate the Spanish-speaking community, What to do if we need to build a new library and the old one was declared a historical building. This week the topic was that the youth librarian plans to show Shark Tales and the Italian-American community decides to picket it because they think it portrays them in a bad light.
The discussions were good and many of my classmates brought up some really great ideas and considerations. I hope that they think the same about my ideas… Anyway, I posted a comment about allowing someone (a racist) to picket because the library wanted to show The Princess and the Frog. My point was that in that case of course the library would not agree to cancel the showing of the movie. Therefore, the library needs to be careful when they listen to community requests for banning and when they don’t. (My idea was that the library should have a policy which they follow so that all materials and requests for the banning of those materials are considered by the same rules.
I started to think about how censorship is such a big issue and really needs to be taken seriously. Blanket rules such as ‘the library never practices censorship’ may not be as affective as we might hope. Granted, this is the policy according to the ALA. But in all honesty, many librarians and libraries practice censorship by the fact that they choose what materials to buy and they may not purchase books that make them uncomfortable. I therefore think it is very important for libraries and librarians to consider what books are purchased or not purchased very carefully. It is very important to follow the rules of freedom of information by providing materials that present all sides of controversial issues.