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I, too, am enjoying this discussion.  It brought to mind an article one of my
professors had us read:  Not Censorship but Selection by Lester Asheim.  It's
available through the ALA website:  Although it was written
in 1953, it's still very relevant and I would encourage everyone to read it.



C. Ellen Wickham

Library Media Specialist

Raytown South High School

8211 Sterling

Raytown, MO 64138
(816) 268-7330



-----Original Message-----
From: Cathy Rettberg [mailto:crettberg@MENLOSCHOOL.ORG] 
Sent: Monday, February 26, 2007 11:32 PM
Subject: Re: censorship vs. selection


First let me say that I think this is a fabulous discussion.


The whole censorship vs selection thing is truly a slippery slope  

IMO. There's a pretty fine line between "I won't buy this book  

because it has a word (a topic, a concept) that I think is  

inappropriate or because parents will complain" and "I won't buy this  

book because it doesn't suit my readers/my collection." It's a  

concept I've always struggled with - the fact is, banning a book from  

a library (in an official sense) has never prevented a reader from  

getting the book elsewhere, so I think it's hard to use availability  

elsewhere as rationale for not calling it censorship. It's a personal  

decision that we make in a professional and very public manner - one  

person's logical decision is another person's censorship.


For my part I've already bought the book, which I might not have done  

without the controversy (I don't necessarily buy every Newbery) - I  

plan to use it as a springboard for discussion with my students who  

are convinced that book banning doesn't happen.


Last point, in reference to the NYT (I think) reference to authors  

including racy words to grab attention: a local author spoke at my  

school today. She has published a YA book (her first) that she  

originally wrote intending it for an adult audience. The original  

book included some "salty characters" (the author's words) whose  

dialogue she changed when she decided to target a younger audience. I  

asked her about the nature of the changes and brought up the present  

Newbery situation. She said she and her editor had lengthy  

discussions and even looked at the book line by line examining it for  

appropriate language. I found that a little scary - another form of  

censorship perhaps?




Cathy Rettberg, MLIS

Head Librarian, Menlo School, grades 6-12

Atherton, CA



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