ALA Elections are starting this week. I’ve requested a paper ballot again this year just to see how things work for the less technologically adept. The vendor running the elections is distributing all the emails with the login/password combinations for voting [yes, you read that right, passwords in email] over the next week to keep people from reading their email and then going to vote all at once, thus overloading the server, according to email we got on the Council list. Only one candidate has a blog this year, Leslie Burger. You may remember that the candidate without a blog last year was Michael Gorman.
Does the latest Library Journal editorial regarding the Gorman v Bloggers melee just read like so much celebrity gossip? It mentions that half the emails he received were pseudonymous. I agree that it’s often a good idea to send both critique and compliments under your own name. However, let’s just remember that while Michael Gorman’s views may not “represent the official positions of either ALA or California State University Fresno” as LJ patronizingly reminds us, he’ll still be reading our responses as a person who occupies both of those roles. The Free Range Librarian is also unimpressed.
According to ALA, the three top reasons for book challenges are: the book is “sexually explicit,” the book contains “offensive language,” or the books is “unsuited to age group.” Please note that one of the most challenged books for 2003 “Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture” by Michael A. Bellesiles, was challenged for inaccuracy. A cursory amount of research will show that according to many the book has been discredited. The original publisher, when faced with the evidence against the author, ceased publication of the book. A smaller press is now re-issuing it, but in a revised edition, with a 50 page addendum. The author resigned from his university job.
Where does this leave librarians? I know this is a sticky issue. I’m just wondering if it’s possible that there are appropriate reasons to challenge a book? Not a storybook about raging-hormone teens or the antebellum South, but a true book about history. A book that many, including its publisher, believe to have errors of fact and conclusions based on poor or inaccurate research. Do you keep it for historical balance? Do you include a note saying “this book has been found to be untrue in parts?” Do you include a book about the errant book, setting the record straight? This seems to be the week to talk about this. On the one hand, we as a profession defend people’s rights to the privacy of what they read, and say “Just because someone is reading about bombs, it doesn’t make them a bomber.” on the other hand, we say that “Reading changes lives.” and view every challenged book — challenged for whatever reason — as an injury to the profession. As usual, I have more questions than answers on this one. Oddly, the ACLUs list of the “most banned books” doesn’t include Arming America while the ALA list, and their press release clearly does.
The majority of books on the Banned Books Week list haven’t been banned, but rather have been challenged. They are shelved in libraries and bookstores and included in school curricula across the nation. Virtually every book that is published can be purchased or checked out in the United States.
Or, as I like to call it Brand Books Week. Celebrate your freedom the American way, by shopping!
Lis has really pulled out the salient parts of this whole Ashcroft mess of late.
How to get Movable Type to do faceted classification.
Just Give it to Me Straight; A Case Against Filtering the Internet. [ thanks sethf ]
A real dilemma: being a library manager when only some of your employees are on strike…
What does it mean to be “too sexy” for an Ivy league library? Well, a lawsuit, for one. [ thanks jim ]