This week I began an initial examination of Intellectual Freedom, and I’m certainly no expert yet.
I remember in 2004, when I first started teaching in my district, we weren’t allowed to have the Harry Potter books in our classroom libraries as a response to parent concerns. I was surprised to learn about the Arkansas case in 2002 mentioned in the article “Does Censorship Matter,” and I am curious if our district leadership was aware of the case when the rule was enforced.
I imagine that there may be some subtle differences between what is permitted in classroom libraries and what is purchased by campus librarians, and I think that those differences must be far greater when you consider what materials are available for check out, what materials are chosen for whole group read alouds, and what materials are assigned by teachers as instructional materials. I think these policies and practices must be different depending on the culture of the communities they serve, and they probably evolve over time.
While we must be responsive to the needs of our communities, we must also be careful not to allow biases and self-censorship to influence our practices. It is evident that librarians must possess a clear understanding of student rights, and need to work as a part of a community to develop policies and procedures for purchasing, managing and challenging materials. Librarians must advocate to protect the intellectual freedom of their students and respect the values of their communities.
Scales, P. Does Censorship Matter. Random House for High School Teachers. Retrieved from http://www.randomhouse.com/highschool/rhi.html