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We err....side of caution or not....when we remove books because we think
that they may be challenged.  There has been a great deal of press about
this particular book on whether or not it will be challenged and whether it
should be in the collection.   One of the pertinent facts of interest has
been overlooked, which is whether is has been challenged, meaning whether
the dread event (which is really just a many others that we
do) has occurred.

Lester Asheim said it best.  Selectors look for what is good about a book.
Censors look for what is bad about a book.

We will never be able to predict challenges.  We can choose not to buy
books or other materials because we fear that some objection will be
raised, or because we listen to the very loud voices of a very few people.
But that won't stop challenges from occurring.  It won't even make them
less likely to occur.   What it does do, for sure, is rip books out of the
hands of the children that need most to read them, and for whom the price
of a book is prohibitive beyond dreams, even if they know what the inside
of a bookstore looked like.    It also presents librarians as fearful of
what people might say or what people might think, or what people might do.

The field got this far in many ways because misbehaving librarians (mostly
women, you have to agree...but don't yell at me..I know there were a few
men as well) criss-crossed the country and took on angels and demons to
build school libraries, demanding funding and recognition for the field .
They did this at a time when nice women didn't travel without husbands,
didn't speak unless spoken to, and didn't cross those in power.

If one plucky orphan can defy odds, surely we can put the story on the
shelf.   Wouldn't it be something if this was just a media-frenzy and
nothing actually happened?

Remember the slogan from the 60's about giving a war and nobody came?
Maybe we will buy a book and the same thing will happen.

Gail K. Dickinson, PhD
249-6 Dept of Educational Curriculum and Instruction
Darden College of Education
Old Dominion University
Norfolk, VA 23529

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