January 28, 2023

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Book Censorship News, November 11, 2022

Library staff are trained professionals. Most librarians spend thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars to earn a master’s degree, which will help them learn not only how to serve their communities, but also how to access, evaluate, and share accurate information customers can provide. Balancing community needs with factual information is both an art and a science. It is a skill that is learned and practiced, not one that is innate.

Given the ongoing undermining of professionals in this field by right-wing volunteers who are developing their own review databases based on their opinion rather than knowledge of literacy, educational needs and human development, it is unsurprising to continue hearing calls that ” both sides” of an event or story can be made available in the library. The fact is that not every story has two sides or “both sides”. Proposing this – and providing materials that purport to be so – is a fundamental public disservice.

This week, another school board suggested that to fulfill its mission, the library should ensure that it offers books that tell “both sides” of the Holocaust. Gavin Downing, who you may remember from a long – and successful – book challenge earlier this year found himself once again fighting off school officials who believed they knew more about his job than he did.

As reported in Forward:

An official at a school district in suburban Seattle said Thursday that if the district wants to carry books about the Holocaust, “you have to be willing to have a book that denies the Holocaust.”

Pamela Hawley, who was introduced as “policy coordinator” during a Kent School District Board meeting but is listed in the school’s director of human resources as an executive assistant, made the comment during a meeting to discuss revising the system’s library policy after months of grudges on whether to ban LGBT books.

Gavin Downing, a district high school librarian, pushed back on Hawley’s statement on Twitter.

“Facts and misinformation don’t need to be given the same platform, especially in a school library,” Downing said. “These things are not the same.”

Hawley’s proposal not only undermines the knowledge and experience base from which library staff draw, but actively participates in the perpetuation of misinformation, disinformation, and misinformation. The role of the library is to provide educational material that complements the curriculum, particularly in school libraries.

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No educator going about his job actively teaches Holocaust controversy. The Holocaust happened and there is no other side of it. In a period of ongoing anti-Semitism, including an FBI warning last week to Jewish residents of New Jersey to be extra careful when visiting places of worship because of credible threats, even the suggestion that books denying the event are themselves anti-Semitic.

There’s an oft-cited notion that every library should contain a book that offends you. This notion goes hand-in-hand with the philosophy by which librarians develop their collection by reflecting the needs and interests of the community they serve. That means, for example, having a book by a talking head or a politician that might be controversial (not buying a book published by a Fox News host through a traditional publisher would be silent censorship, if it is something that your community has expressed an interest in). It doesn’t mean buying obviously false information. Will Tucker-Beck-Kelly’s latest screed book contain misinformation and encourage dangerous thinking? It is possible. But this book will not be used for research either, and if that is the case, the person using it will face the reality that it is far from a reliable source. They are opinion and they live on shelves in the library between similar books. It is not presented as fact, research, or reliable information. (Information literacy related to these types of books is a topic for another day.)

No shelf space, even in the most conservative of communities or schools, is reserved for actively harmful, dangerous, disingenuous, false/dark/bad information. That is not and never has been the purpose of a library.

Anyone who suggests “two sides” to an event like the Holocaust in the context of knowledge, education, or truth does not deserve to go anywhere near these institutions.

The Holocaust is not a matter of opinion. It was a human atrocity.

Book censorship news: November 11, 2022

Starting with an annoying editorial, and I hope that really confirms what has been said for 18 months now: The aim of these book bans is not to ban books. It is designed to destroy the public education system and open up taxpayers’ money to private, religious, right-wing, white nationalist education. This person from a libertarian think tank thinks it’s smart to say so, but he literally just shares the agenda. The Elmbrook School District (WI) has removed 7 LGBTQ+ books from the school library. Me and White Supremacy was used for a lesson at Somers High School (NY) and immediately after complaints the book and lessons were discontinued. “The Wilkes County School Board [NC] approved on Monday to give Wilkes school principals the power to immediately remove a book or other educational material from all schools after it is challenged by a parent, partially bypassing a review process that has been in place since 2006. Superintendents as last resort. Big! And to completely undermine their own politics. The Abilene Public Library (TX) presents the decision to remove or reinstate 30 contested books. A look at censorship in libraries in the Rochester, New York area. The Kerrville (TX) City Council is set to address the problem of “obscene” materials in the public library after a display of banned books sparked protests and book banner outrage. “The Prince William County School Board is considering a proposal that would require school administrators to notify parents prior to school-wide book readings or gatherings.” The fact that the same parents complaining about books are the ones claiming that they are not familiar with the Raising government together is a head scratcher when they want the government – in this case public schools – to tell them what’s happening. This is in Virginia. Parents in the Hilliard School District (OH) are complaining about books, including a parent whose child is no longer in school. Nine more books are under fire in Nixa Schools (MO). One of the books isn’t even in the district. How about a less annoying story as the center of the censorship sandwich? Parents who were frustrated that the Grapeville-Colleyville Independent School District (TX) wouldn’t host a Scholastic Book Fair because they hate books decided to host their own book fair. Students held a strike at Conway High School (AR) over new district policies that directly target queer students, including new book policies. Carroll Community High School will be stocking Patricia McCormick’s Sold. More book challenge decisions to come. Escambia County Schools (FL) picked The Perks of Being a Wallflower as an *optional* title for 12th grade reading. huh? Hm. (Hollidaysville, Pennsylvania). I want to know how pictures of a book sitting on a teacher’s desk get to the right – are they using their kids as spies? What the hell is that? Grandma complains that Julián is a mermaid in the public library. That’s it. That’s the story. “Last June she took her grandson to a reading event. She said the librarian selected a book, Julian Is a Mermaid, that introduced the idea of ​​transgenderism to read to children aged 0 to 3. “I don’t want my three-year-old grandson to be indoctrinated with the author’s view of normalizing a transgender lifestyle,” she said. ‘This is a subject for my daughter and son-in-law to discuss with my grandson when he is of appropriate age.’” (South Parkersburg Public Library, West Virginia.) Book Banners are Weaponizing Legitimate Resources: Book Censorship News, October 28 October 2022 Republicans propose federal ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law: Book Censorship News, October 21, 2022 What is a Book Sanctuary?: Book Censorship News, October 14, 2022 Book banners insist on not banning books: Book Censorship News, October 7 October 2022 Who’s Skipping “Parents Rights” Groups: Book Censorship News 30 September 2022 Who Are the Groups Banning Books Near You?: Book Censorship News 23 September 2022 A List of Actions for Banned Books Week: Book Censorship News Book Censorship, September 16, 2022 How to Run for School Board: Book Censorship News, September 9, 2022 How to Create a Good Banned Books Ad : Book Censorship News, September 2, 2022