Archive for the ‘access’ Category

“Librarians” and “Pornography”

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Carrieif@aol.com has drawn to the attention of the Intellectual Freedom Round Table listserv to the story Librarians Won’t Give Child ‘Porn’ Book on the web site for WTVQ-TV in Lexington, KY. The story involves two “librarians” at the Jessamine Public Library who were dismissed last month for refusing to give a book they considered pornographic to an 11year old girl. The book was one of the volumes of Alan Moore’s series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Alan Moore is a graphic novelist of high repute and the author of such works as Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and From Hell. He writes graphic novels for an adult audience. Indeed, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’s ideal reader would be an adult with an encyclopedic knowledge of popular literature from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  Moore’s vision of the world is bleak and that translates into stories that can be violent and often entail sexual violence. I have a friend—a fellow librarian—who is a graphic novel enthusiast, but who has quit reading Moore because he objects to the frequent occurrence of rape in his works.

That being said, the two “librarians” did not follow the policy of the Jessamine Public Library that “the responsibilities of the child’s reading must lie with the parents and not the Library.” Instead, they chose to remove the book from a hold shelf so it could not be picked up by the 11 year old girl. The Jessamine Public Library is to be applauded for its stand on parental responsibility. The two “librarians” deserved reproach for their decision.

Now, if you go to the story on the WTVQ-TV web site you’ll see that many of the comments on the story are by librarians who are quick to point out that the two staff members probably did not have masters degrees in library science and hence were not really librarians. Of course, from the point of view of anyone not employed in a library or a library school, they were librarians. Everyone in the library except the cleaning staff is a librarian.

The assumption behind this careful restriction of the title is a belief that true librarians would not have made the same error. I also think that the readers of the ACRL Intellectual Freedom blog might assume the academic librarians would certainly not make such an error. I disagree. I think all librarians (both in the strict and loose definitions of the title) at all levels of librarianship need to be reminded of our commitments to intellectual freedom and that the reminders should be repeated frequently.

In 1992, when Madonna published her book SEX, I remember the book on the approval plan shelves. We all, of course, gave it a look. If you have never seen it, you have missed nothing. It is a silly attempt to shock. The text is trite and the photos are a stale imitation of the work of Robert Mapplethorpe and other artists who truly explored the limits of sexual depiction. What has always stuck in my mind about the book is not any of its pictures or text, but a note a librarian left on the book:  “Please please don’t buy this trash for the collection.” The note was left by a librarian I deeply respect, but who had a strong personal reaction to the work. The sociology selector who was responsible for collecting materials on sexual expression and erotica ended up having a long talk with the concerned librarian. They discussed the role such a work would play in the collection and its likely importance as an artifact of the period and came to an agreement that it was appropriate for the library. In fact, two copies of SEX were ultimately purchased: one for a special collection on human sexuality and the other for the circulating collection (albeit the volume was kept in the closed stacks so it would survive intact and could be circulated).

All librarians reach these points in building collections whether our reaction is to sexual content or violence or hatred or gross human stupidity. We all, therefore, require reminders of our principles so reason will keep our feelings in check, so we will do the job of protecting intellectual freedom.

—Paul Beavers

Intellectual Freedom in the News

Monday, September 21st, 2009

In an attempt to cut costs, an increasing number of colleges & universities are forgoing school-run email systems in favor of free email systems from Google and Microsoft.

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FCC chair Julius Genachowski said today that the commission “must be a smart cop on the beat preserving a free and open Internet”, taking steps to ensure that telecommunications companies would not be able to restrict file flow and network size.  Learn more & join the net neutrality discussion here.

– compiled by X. Avalos

Openness and Creativity (aka Librarians Like More Stuff)

Friday, August 28th, 2009

I was preparing a Pechua Kucha presentation for our library recently as part of a fun event before the start of a new semester that also was intended to remind us of why we do what we do. I ended up doing mine on the idea of openness, tieing it to Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science and ALA’s statement of Core Values of Librarianship. I ended up talking about Open Source, Open Access, Open Data, and Open Educational Resources.  But the consistent theme that kept coming through – and I hadn’t set out with this in mind – was how openness in all these senses is the foundation for increased productivity and increased creativity. Librarians like openness because we like to have more stuff. More stuff for our communities to take and build on it to create even more stuff.

This idea is probably obvious to those who believe in the value of intellectual freedom, but it’s nice to have a reminder.

- Dan Lee

Intellectual Freedom in the News

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

The Oak Park, Illinois, public library has opened a transgender resource collection.

The ACLU has settled out of court with two Tennessee school districts that banned access to GLBT sites, but allowed access to “reparative therapy” sites.

A Federal Court has found that RealDVD, a software company that provides a means of copying DVDs and maintaining digital copies on the user’s hard drives, violates the DMCA.

The US Marines have banned social networking on the Marine Core Network.

ACRL & ARL have sent a letter to the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division stating that the lack of competition for the Google Books project “could compromise fundamental library values such as equity of access to information, patron privacy, and intellectual freedom.”

You can see FCC Chaiman Julius Genachowski’s remarks on braoadband at the eGovernment and Civic Engagement Workshop here.

The Freedom to Read Foundation is urging the Supreme Court to reject a 1999 ban that would make it a crime to create, sell or possess any photograph, film, video or sound recording in which an animal is harmed or killed — even though these materials are First Amendment protected.

An Oregon rule that could go into effect as soon as September would require all milk producers that advertise their milk as hormone-free must also include a disclaimer next to the label that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found no significant difference between milk coming from cows treated with the hormone and those that are not. Two industry giants have filed lawsuits.

“Expert reviewers” appointed by the Texas state Board of Education have recommended the removal of César Chávez and former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall from the state’s Social Studies curriculum on the grounds that Chávez is an “unfitting role model for students” and Marshall is “not an appropriate historical figure.”
– compiled by X. Avalos