Censorship is a dirty word to information professionals. Attempts by individuals or groups to restrict the public from reading, hearing or viewing certain materials due to their content, is enough to send librarian's and organizations such as the American Library Association, to the proverbial battle field. However, information professionals from all fields have to make choices about what to include and what not to include in their particular library's collection. How are these selections made? What causes one item to be selected instead of another? The distinction between censorship and selection is infinitesimal, dependent mainly upon the role of the individuals involved. As an information professional, who inherently is charged with the responsibility to protect the rights of the public to have free access to materials, much care must be taken in the selection of materials. By evaluating the collections, by carefully examining what deeply held beliefs we have, and by carefully adhering to selection policies, information professionals can guard against allowing personal bias influencing selection decisions.
What Is Censorship?
Censorship can take many forms, but it inherently leads to an individual or group attempting to restrict access to materials. Jenkinson (2002) defines a censor as someone who “begins with a list of negatives or 'no-no's' and then seeks to identify whether any of these 'taboo' words, subjects, themes or attitudes are present in an item” (p. 22). Irregardless of the context, a censor then seeks to either have the item removed, or not acquired at all. (Jenkinson, 2002, p. 22). Censorship can take place in a visible manner, such as a parent or group challenging a book. However, a far more...
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Hill, R. (2010). The problem of self-censorship. School Library Journal. (27)2. p. 9-12.
Kidd, K. (2009). “Not Censorship but Selection”: Censorship and/as prizing. Children's Literature in Education, 40(3), 197-216. doi:10.1007/s10583-008-9078-4
Mazer, Norma Fox. (1997). Shhhh! The ALAN Review. (24)2, 46-48. Retrieved from http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/ALAN/winter97/w97-10-Censorship.html
McMenemy, D. (2008). Selection and censorship: librarians and their collections. Library Review, 57(5), 341-344. doi: 1497848431
Staples, S. (1996). What Johnny Can't Read. The ALAN Review. (23)2, n.p. Retrieved from http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/ALAN/winter96/pubCONN.html
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