I need to share some thoughts on a recent conversation regarding censorship and school libraries. As a retired librarian, a colleague volunteers in her grandchildren’s primary school library. This library is managed by a teacher who has worked in the school for over 20 years. As it happened, my colleague found a book (senior fiction) in the back room which had some pages ripped out. Concerned, she mentioned it to the librarian who protested that such a “disgusting” book would not be held in her library. A parent had complained about the book, the librarian had agreed, and tore out the offensive pages. Understandably, my colleague was lost for words. My questions … Who is responsible for resourcing the collection? Is there a selection policy and if so, why was that title selected?
The current situation of this school library causes me to reflect on my learning in ETL503 & 401. I wonder about the role of the library in this particular school. There is ample funding for new resources and a new Library Management System, yet no funding for qualified staff, who is the decision maker here? Is it the principal, the teacher managing the library, or the administration staff? Does anyone care? Who is selecting and acquiring resources, under what criteria are they chosen, is there a collection management policy and if so, is it ever consulted or updated? Is the principal aware of parent complaints or of books having pages ripped out? Who is ultimately responsible for this collection? I am constantly reminded of the indifference, the lack of appreciation for the role of the library, its staff and its resources. There is continued debate about the future of school libraries. Alarmingly, it seems that more often than not, it is the school principal and/or other important stakeholders, those who manage school funding that have the final say and will ultimately determine the continued existence of the school library.