I was unpacking a library when I found a box labeled: Inappropriate to Shelve. "What does that mean?" I wondered. "Are they worn out? Is there something wrong with them? Are they potentially hazardous chemical journals for would-be terrorists?"
No. It seems they are books that "some people" were afraid might trigger a book challenge so they pulled them off the shelves pre-emptively. Now, take a look at the partial list below and see if you can determine the trends that caused these books to be censored by "some people" without undergoing a proper challenge procedure:
European Art Since 1850
What would you do? Put these back on the shelf immediately and wait for any challenges to arise naturally? Re-evaluate the collection to determine if each is appropriate for the collection (grades 6-8)? Withdraw them to prevent controversy? Prominently display these for Banned Book Week?
I think I’m doing nearly all of those things. I’m not scared of controversy so I don’t plan to continue hiding the evolution books or those that might have an accurate portrayal of the human body.
I re-read Guyaholic to consider whether I believe this is a true grade nine and up book. Same with "Hello, Groin." I think these might be better matched at the high school right across the street, so I will take them over there if that is more appropriate. Why would I keep them hidden? Either they are for the middle-schooler’s or not. Do any of you have them in your middle school collection?
Why didn’t "some people" follow the district collection development policy? I know the district has one. In my previous libraries, I always had a five-year plan for development based upon the analysis model from Karen Lowe. The library collection where I found this box was purchased in 2001. New collection. I’m trying to understand the reasons here.
One thing I am certain: I am not starting my time at a new school with a secret shelf of books that I’m afraid someone might object to. What would you do?
AHA! Here is the quote that I must have printed as a poster for my new school library:
“If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all—except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty.”
- John Fitzgerald Kennedy