Friday, October 20, 2006

What to do with "Challenged" Books?

What should happen to books that have been challenged and are under review? Should they be pulled from the shelves in the meantime?

Chuck Mason, observing a Marshall, Missouri, controversy over graphic novels, says emphatically "No!":
Happily, a solution has been reached in the book controversy at the Marshall Public Library.

Unhappily, the solution, in part, sets a dangerous precedent.

This past week, the library board of trustees on a majority vote decided to remove "Fun Home" by Alison Bechdel and "Blankets" by Craig Thompson from the shelves while a "material selection policy" is developed.


It sets the precedent that I can, just as Louise Mills, go into the library and file the necessary paperwork to have the paintings on the walls of the library removed while the material selection policy is developed.

It allows me, or anyone else, to get that dry, boring history magazine that no one reads anyway yanked from the racks while the policy is developed.

It sets the precedent that allows me to make sure that all those 10 Internet stations are removed from the library while the policy is developed because, heck, who needs to look at the world outside of Marshall?

And it sets the precedent that I can ask -- while the policy is being developed -- that the trustees take off all those public notices from that bulletin board at the library's entrance because they are an eyesore.

As Marshall's Chuck Hird suggested in a letter to the editor on Thursday, let's close the library while this policy is developed. Closing the library would put everything on the same level playing field -- the two objectionable books and all the other wonders that are inside the public library.

Here at AS IF!, we agree. Libraries are about access and freedom. That is the default mode. The burden of proof rests not on the book itself or the author, but on those who would censor that book.


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