Censorship is in the air. It is raising its ugly head in our local schools. I wrote this as a retired librarian for those who might not be familiar with the process of book selection and how librarians select books.
Books do not end up on library shelves by accident. Librarians have guidelines that include reviews, awards and other factors that they take into consideration before deciding if a particular title is worth adding to the collection. School librarians take into consideration the curriculum and what teachers regularly use.
Book selection is an important part of a librarian’s job. It is important that a well-balanced collection can be developed that will meet the needs of all, and not just reflect a single point of view. Every library needs to have in place a well-defined protocol to use when there is a complaint from any member of their community. It usually includes a committee of people who have actually read the book and can discuss its literary merit and value to various patrons.
Parents certainly have a right to complain and go through the process if, after reading the book, they feel it is inappropriate. Let the process do its job and let the book be considered for inclusion or remova in the collection.
Calls for the exclusion of mass numbers of books by politicians and others to ban books they have not read in totality is censorship. No one group of parents can speak for the entire community. That is the job of librarians who have worked hard to include books in a balanced collection that represents everyone.
What about parents’ rights? Monitor what your child is reading and talk to them about it. Tell them to stop reading it, if that is the right choice for your child. Because you do not like the book and oppose the topic does not mean that you speak for the rest of the community. Again, it is censorship when one group feels entitled to dictate what everyone else should have access to.
Many thanks to those students who are speaking up at school boards for their right to have books that are important to them. Adults in the community need to take a page out of the students’ book and stand against censorship.
Marilyn Elie is a retired librarian who lives in Cortlandt Manor.