This week, we tackled censorship in one of our classes. Suffice it to say, one class was definitely not enough time to fully explore the topic. I was really surprised by some of the different ideas and opinions that came out of our group discussion.
One of the articles that we had to read was about a public library that had a problem with patrons looking at inappropriate content on public computers. The shock factor of this article really brought it to the forefront of the discussion, and it ultimately detracted from us exploring the larger scope of censorship. Unfortunately, it became apparent very quickly that most of my group was arguing pro-censorship, and I wasn’t. It was really surprising and really intimidating for me to be the only one that was voicing a contradicting opinion! It was one of those stretch your boundaries moments, and despite my adamant stance on the matter, I’m not sure how successful I was…
There’s a good chance that they all thought I was crazy, and perhaps in my state of shock I wasn’t articulating my thoughts very well. I was trying to look beyond the idea of internet censorship to the role of the librarian in general, and sorry, but I just don’t think that librarians should be the ones to censor materials.
In retrospect, I think what we should have been focusing on was intellectual freedom, because that is really what is at the heart of the argument. I walked away from the discussion feeling both shaky and confused, but felt better when I looked up intellectual freedom on the ALA website and discussed it a little with colleagues and friends. Yikes. Here’s to hoping that the next group discussion goes a little more smoothly.
Here’s two of many quotes that I very much wish I had in my arsenal earlier this week:
“Intellectual freedom is the basis for our democratic system. We expect our people to be self-governors. But to do so responsibly, our citizenry must be well-informed. Libraries provide the ideas and information, in a variety of formats, to allow people to inform themselves. Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to hold, receive and disseminate ideas.”
“What censors often don’t consider is that, if they succeed in suppressing the ideas they don’t like today, others may use that precedent to suppress the ideas they do like tomorrow.”
And, on a lighter note, I am so very excited about all of the things going on outside of classes at school. This week I also saw Carol Tilley speak about comics, and there’s lots more exciting things coming this month (including my all-time favourite author coming, but I will blog about that love-affair closer to the date of).
AND I’m super pumped that Oliver Jeffers is coming to Vancouver this month! Not only is he an awesome writer and illustrator, he is a rather dapper fellow that makes wicked videos like this: