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What I see as the difference here is that parents do have a right,  
and I would even say responsibility, to censor the books read by  
their own children.  We are discussing the role as censor/selector of  
materials for a library setting, where they do not have the right to  
make that decision for other children.

  Another posting in this thread talked about willingness to fight  
for books as opposed to willingness to fight for a particular book.   
To my way of thinking, this is a huge difference.  I am certainly  
willing to defend the right of a student to self-select reading  
materials, but with the caveat that sometimes a parent may object to  
what the child has picked.  I am not, however, willing to defend any  
and all books.  Some are just not worth defending and so I do  
consider that when I am selecting books for purchase.

I also agree that there is a vast difference in what should be  
available in a public library and what should be in a school  
library.  In a public library, ideally, every member of the public  
would find his/her point of view on any and all topics presented in a  
positive light.  Obviously, if carried to the extreme, we might not  
be willing to provide positive presentations for those who advocate  
child abuse, rape or murder, but just because a belief is opposed by  
mainstream community members does not mean that the only books in the  
library should reflect negatively on that viewpoint.  That said, I  
think that the location of controversial books in a public library  
can make their inclusion more acceptable to those of different  
beliefs.  If a book is in the adult section, it is assumed that the  
readers would be adults, capable of reading and evaluating the ideas  
contained therein.  In an elementary school library, there is no  
adult section to assure the maturity of readers, and no way to notify  
the parents who might be perfectly willing to let their child explore  
the topic if only they knew about it so they could use the book as a  
springboard for discussion.  All of this does not even begin to  
address the issue of a child who wants/needs to know about a topic-- 
think teen se*uality issues-- when a parent objects.  That's another  
whole can of worms.

Thank you to all of you who have posted such thought-provoking  
messages.  This thread has really caused me to reflect on my own  
ideas and action.

Gail Smith, NBCT
Librarian & Tech Facilitator
Edison Regional Gifted Center - Chicago, Illinois

On Feb 27, 2007, at 2:57 PM, Marsha Redd wrote:

> I think that there is a big difference here between public  
> libraries and school libraries. I may draw some heat for this, but  
> here goes . . . censorship, in my opinion, does not apply to the  
> same degree in schools as it does in public libraries because we  
> are dealing with minor children. What parent is going to say that  
> he/she has never censored anything that pertained to their own  
> children. I wouldn't let my son read anything he wanted when he was  
> 5 years old. Fortunately, this never came up for me, but if my son  
> had wanted to read something that I thought was totally  
> inappropriate, I would not have allowed it . . . the same way 10  
> year olds are not allowed to see R rated movies. It's easy to get  
> carried away with this anticensorship cause because everything we  
> believe and are taught tells us not to censor. In reality, where  
> children are concerned, there is already censorship all of the time.
> And it is important to remember that the school board is an elected  
> body whose job is to oversee the school. We can advocate for books  
> all we want, but I think our responsibility ends there. If the  
> school board says "no" I don't think the librarians should feel bad  
> about just accepting the decision.
> Marsha Redd
> Librarian, Kelloggsville High School
> Grand Rapids, MI
> Education is not a goal; it is a life-long process. Everyone is a  
> student. Everyone is a teacher.

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