I thought I would share this interesting compilation of the most banned books in the first decade of the 21st Century put together by the New Academics blog. They used some of the same software that I was tinkering around with for my visualizations, so I appreciated their work. It’s also interesting to see what people fear. You can say what you want about your motivations for banning a book, but I feel like a big part of it is always fear. You don’t want to expose your children to “that filth.” Why? You fear loss of innocence, creating a desire to mimic the behaviors or the child agreeing with the material.
So, if you pop on over to the blog post, you’ll see the larger titles are the most often banned. It is a little different than the ALA’s 100 most banned books for the decade, but all the greatest hits seem to jive with each other. You have Harry Potter on both lists (my own love of the series temporarily blinds me where I think, “What is that? Fear of being awesome? Fear of thinking creatively?” However, it was banned in my own middle school library (over my and my parents’ protests) because it promoted witchcraft. So I guess it is more a fear of other religions/people who are different kind of thing). You have The Chocolate War and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings on both lists- fear of violence and fear of loss of innocence. There are also MANY challenges that deal with homosexuality.
This brings me to an article I read earlier today about how teen suicide rates are higher in conservative, homophobic communities. The article describes research recently published inPediatrics, a medical journal that studied communities in Oregon and suicide rates for both homosexual and heterosexual teens- both of which are higher in the conservative areas.
As the researchers explain their reasoning, it does mesh well with my understanding of the 40 Developmental Assets from the Search Institute. Teens thrive in environments where they feel like they can be themselves and have a support system in the community. No matter what your sexual orientation, if you know the community actively campaigns against certain individuals, would you feel comfortable expressing your own quirks or differences?
Libraries have a responsibility to welcome all groups of people, regardless of their differences. Part of that welcome and acceptance is to keep materials on hand that have different materials and topics. Yet another reason not to ban books.
A few weeks ago, I posted that I had watched some interesting videos in my classes that week, but I didn’t want to overwhelm by posting them all at the same time. And then finals, birthdays, etc. distracted me until…. it’s the ides of April without the next video!
This video, I think, is important for libraries to see. We watched this in my management class, and it really spoke to me. Our class discussed how many libraries seem to follow older management styles that maybe miss the boat on a couple of the things they discuss in the video:
Now, I have worked at a few jobs where I have been the horse with the carrot in front of me, so I can definitely say that I agree that those jobs were not exactly motivating. Being in library school, I feel like I am bursting with ideas for programs, volunteen activities, displays, inservice activities, etc. Luckily, I have teachers encouraging me to develop these ideas for class projects, but they always have to fit some guideline or other. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have a day where I would be encouraged to just do something for the library, whatever I thought would be best. That seems so inspiring and wonderful.
Even looking at librarians in the field, it seems like so much time is taken by the day to day grind. I wonder what would happen if there were four creative days a year where librarians only worked on ideas to make the library better or come up with creative new programs. Or what if there was a “trade your librarian” day to help get the librarian out of the daily grind (let’s face it, even on break or during the hours off desk, librarians can get called into duty at their own libraries)? You could move librarians for a day to a new library where they might be able to point out the issues with library signage (“Did you guys know that you have over 200 signs in the library but I still had trouble finding your adult fiction section?”) or help declutter the shelves by weeding some older volumes. I suppose that has the possibility of truly angering some people as you mess with their turf. But if you did the same thing to the other person’s library, could it be seen as a good thing?
Anyway, hope you are all enjoying the return of spring.
So, I was debating what my next post should be. I’ve done a host of school projects that I think are interesting like a collection development policy for the “Barbara Gordon Memorial Library” in Gotham City with my friend Alison. We know BG is still out there kicking butt as Oracle, but we wanted to memorialize her days as librarian by day, Batgirl by night. However, we wrote the entire policy without once mentioning superheroes by their super names. That didn’t stop us from having an outreach team work at Arkham Asylum or getting generous funding support from Wayne Enterprises. It’s riddled with subtlety. However, in the end, it is just a collection development policy written for a school project. (If you would like to see it, I’m adding it to the portfolio section.)
So, what then? Do I dazzle you with my mad statistics skills from my collection evaluation? Do I give you my review of a selection aid? Do I stun you with my memo on psychological capital?
I will send you to a much happier place where YA books are king and the nostalgia is free flowing (so is the alcohol for those over 21). Yes, you guessed it. It’s time for some Forever Young Adult. This is a blog I’ve referred to before in my Harry Potter posts, but it needs more mentions here for its brilliance. Forever Young Adult does many things well. It reviews YA books, old and new. It waxes on about the mistakes and triumphs of the teen years. It makes drinking games for movie adaptations of beloved YA friends. Did I not mention that this is for adults who love YA?
That’s what I love about this site. It’s adults (at least age wise!) who know good literature when they see it, regardless of the original intended audience. Which is why I swooned when I saw their recent post about Just Listen by Sarah Dessen. Ms. Dessen was the writer for my group of friends when I was in high school. She didn’t have as many books out then (obviously…) but those books spoke to us. I have a ratty old copy of Keeping the Moon on my bookshelf that got me through some of my angsty-est times. Yet, the appeal hasn’t lessened as I’ve gotten older. She still writes amazing books that get me excited when I hear about them (or read the first chapter on her blog). Though, I am always shocked at how adult she is on her Twitter. I want her to be angsty and dramatic, but she mostly talks about her two year old, food, and North Carolina.
What does this have to do with Forever Young Adult? I spent their entire review shouting things like “Exactly!” and “These people know what I’m talking about!!” as I agreed with them. (Don’t worry, no one was around to see the insanity of me yelling at my computer screen.) I don’t always agree with their reviews so precisely, but this was one of those times when I was just happy to feel like I belonged. Huh. Maybe that isn’t so different from teenage Sarah.