*shudder*

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Banned Books Week Banner

I was searching Google to find the lists of banned and challenged books for my “Banned Books Week” display and, lucky me, I happened upon this article:

Libraries and schools throughout the country are ready once again to observe Banned Books Week. It’s that special time each year when some in the library profession point an accusing finger at parents, especially Christians or conservatives who might dare to question the value or appropriateness of certain materials available to youth. For 25 years since its inception, Banned Books Week has been warning America: “Beware of the ignorance and repression of censors! They will deprive us all of valuable knowledge and freedom.”

Just to set the record straight, Library selection committes are not “systematically purging libraries of any conservative or serious Christian viewpoints and instead, loading the shelves with left-wing propaganda and pornography.” That is just the most ridiculous thing I have ever read in my life. Actually, at my library, we have more books aimed toward a Christian audience than we do for any other religions. The Wiccans are kind of screwed in that department because most definately don’t carry the same number of books directed toward thier religion. So please. Don’t tell me we are “purging Christan viewpoints.”

And furthermore, as crazy as it sounds, many of us liberal librarians actually ARE Christians. I know, crazy, isn’t it?

I made the mistake of looking around at that website a little bit. Not the whole site, just the things in the sidebar. Frankly, I don’t know how they can claim to be Christian. Just go check it out yourself. I mean, talk about hate-filled.

There is a new documentary coming out about librarians!

The Hollywood Librarian: Librarians in Cinema and Society, now in production, will be the first full-length film to focus on the work and lives of librarians in the entertaining and appealing context of American movies.

Fascinating! I can’t wait to see it!

Read all about it here:

The Hollywood Librarian

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Writing for the LIS

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I went to a CARL mini-confernce yesterday and the program was on writing for the LIS profession. The speakers were really great and it lit a fire under me to consider writing about some things I have done at Santa Clara that might be of interest.

I have a couple of things I’m thinking about. I would really like to write about theAJSU SLIS Jobseekers website (well, me and my colleage, who asked me if I would be interested in writing something with her). A group of us put this project together without ever meeting in person. We did all of our communicating on the internet. We would like to write up something about our experience.

Another thing I would like to write about is my experience putting together what we called a “cyberspace survival fair.” We came up with the idea last year and have done this for a couple of years now. A few of us from the library, myself and another librarian, and a couple of people from our Technology Training department set up some tables in our student union and provided “games” for the students to do to introduce them to library services. This past year we gave away an ipod mini, and that brought all kinds of people to our table to do games like, “try to find this scholarly article in under 5 minutes” and “can you guess the fake website?” Funny, eh? I’d love to write up something about that.

The problem is I don’t know where to start…So that’s why I’m posting a little something about it here. Maybe I can throw the ideas around here a bit and it will help me pull together some kind of article out of it.

The First Amendment and public libraries

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The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments t...

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I’ve been thinking about John’s comment: “The first amendment does not entitle one to a taxpayer-supported avenue of expression.” and I’ve been really bothered by it. I think F**k walmart is right, It does sound a little bit fascist to me – when you take that statement to it’s logical conclusion. I mean, the first amendment is the first amendment, right? Let’s look at it:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

you can see all of the amendments here. (I thnnk everyone who lives in this country should read the constitution every six months or so, at least on a periodical basis. But that’s just me.) So where in that does it say, “except when taxpayers are paying for it” ? It doesn’t. Free speech is free speech. Freedom of religion is freedom of religion (incidentally, my tax dollar are paying for congress to say a prayer every morning before thier session).

Also, if John is correct, then who decides what kind of speech is okay for public libraries and isn’t okay for public libraries? Is it even fair for people to decide these things? Or do we begin to creep into the realm of fascism when those things are decided for us? I realize that the courts have been trying to interpret the first amendment for years, and they have never really been able to put their finger on what exactly is offensive. It’s a vague term. Personally, I do not find John Stwart’s America offensive in the least bit. I think it’s a wonderful expression of free speech in the form of humor during a time when we need it most. Just because one “taxpayer” is offended by a book in my public library, doesn’t mean that, because this person’s tax money is being used to fund the public library, that we should get rid of all books that this person feels are offensive. That is not how the public library works. The public library serves ALL the public, not just the public that are uptight and can’t seem to understand the concept of satire. Frankly, I am offended by those crappy “left behind” books about the rapture. Oh and that horrible mystery novel that O’Reilly wrote (and, boy, is there some offensive material in there). Am I going to go demand that my public library take these books off the shelves? God no! Of course not! I don’t mind my tax dollars going to the public library, even if it means they carry badly written novels that are offensive to me. For me, it is more important that the public library exist as a place where EVERYONE has equal access and there is a variety of material provided for everyone, offensive or not.

This is why the public library exists – to provide equal access to information. Librarians are not in the business of banning books, at least we shouldn’t be. In fact, ALA dedicates whole week to banned books! They encourage people to read a banned book during this week (or anytime, for that matter).

Again, her are a couple of quotes to leave you with that sum up my feelings very eloquently:

“A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.” -Jo Godwin

“So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.” – Kurt Vonnegut

More cuts ahead for beleaguered library system

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Palo Alto Main Library, opened in 1958, was de...

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MercuryNews.com | 12/20/2004 | More cuts ahead for beleaguered library system

“When 100 people show up to defend branch libraries,” Morton said, referring to last week’s council meeting, “there’s a strong indication that there’s a lot of support for what we have.”

More problems for local libraries, this time in Palo Alto, a community that is the almost exact opposite of Salinas in that it is a very wealty community. It’s sad to see that libraries are the first to go when the budget is cut. Again, it’s not because I a librarian, either. I have always, all of my life, been a patron of the local public library. In fact, I believe that the public library (and school) library is the reason that I have grown into a person who is very interested in knowledge, learning all I can about things that I become interested in. I have always been a voracious reader and it can be traced to the summer reading program at the library. It’s sad that this is being taken away. It’s more than sad. I think it is detrimental to society. Again, I know that is a little dramatic, but that is how I feel about it.