Friday, August 13, 2010

Library Love: Librarians Behaving Badly

Library Love is supposed to be about promoting libraries and spreading the love and joy that libraries bring to their communities. However, every once in awhile a librarian comes along and disgraces their profession. I think librarians that act in direct opposition to their profession's values and mission should be held accountable for their actions.

Brent of The Naughty Book Kitties recently posted about how Ellen Hopkins was uninvited to 2011 Houston Teen Book Festival because one middle school librarian decided Ellen Hopkins' presence would "negatively affect her students", according to Hopkins' blog post.

Now, I know Texas likes to expound that "it's like a whole other country", but it's not.  The librarians of Texas are held accountable to the American Library Association's (ALA) Core Values, Ethics and Core Competencies, just like any other state. I know that this is just one ignorant librarian and that there were "other librarians who lobbied heavily" to keep Ellen on the speaker roster (Hopkins). So I'm not chastising Texas librarians as a whole.

But perhaps this librarian needs to be reminded of the values and ethics of her profession. The ALA's Freedom to Read statement addresses this very issue in its first paragraph:
The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label "controversial" views, to distribute lists of "objectionable" books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as individuals devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.
This librarian's blatant display of censorship is in direct opposition of her profession's core values. Shame on her.

On her blog Ellen suggets boycotting the event and/or contacting the superintendent in charge of the event:

I hope if you live in or near Houston, you will choose not to attend the event. Censorship only wins if we let it. And wherever you live, I hope you’ll drop an e-mail to Mr. Sconzo, telling him why you think my books are important. Please concentrate on the positives, and don’t let anger dictate what you say. Keep a respectful tone (no swear words, okay?), or your opinions won’t matter to him. But please make it clear, if you’re with me on this, that I’m not just any author. And that you don’t believe in censorship. Here is his email address:
Take a stand against censorship. Personally, I'd like the contact information for the librarian. She should know better, but Mr. Sconzo will have to do.


  1. Dude, this sucks big donkey balls. Shame on that librarian.

  2. I know right?! So eloquently put Wena! ;)

  3. Wow, I can't believe that! I understand not backing a book because it's not your cup of tea, but as a librarian, you can't decide it's not everyone else's cup of tea as well! Books are art, meaning they're not for everyone, and are subjective. Don't stifle someone else's creativity.

    As someone considering becoming a librarian, I hope not to encounter too much of this in my career.

    Stopping by from CEP!

    Kerleisha @ Collegiate Bookworm

  4. Kerleisha, Thanks for stopping by and weighing in! Yes, as a librarian it's maddening. Yay, you might become a librarian, that's awesome! I love it, I can't imagine doing anything else!

  5. I think that's so wrong! Just because one person may not like something, it doesn't mean they should stop others from experiencing it too. Otherwise people will grow up not knowing all the different kinds of books out there for them - they'll be missing out on so much.

  6. I don't think librarians should be neutral as a whole. It's not their place to do censorship and should instead be open. You cater to so many different people and tastes. It's unfortunate that this is happening.

  7. And how is it that one person who has a negative opinion is always more heavily considered than a load of people with positive opinion?

  8. No one is "accountable to the American Library Association's (ALA) Core Values, Ethics and Core Competencies." If they were, there'd have to be an ALA committee to disbar this librarian and Gail Sweet, who pulled Revolutionary Voices from Burlington County, NJ, in complete violation of their library's procedure. The American library establishment has absolutely zero accountability, and things like this will continue to happen until either ALA, the state libraries, or the state associations step up to the plate.


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