Censorship Practices Report

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					                                Phone: 0121 331 6252
                Sarah McNicol
                                Fax: 0121 331 6510
                Evidence Base
                                E-mail: sarahmcnicol@uce.ac.uk




CENSORSHIP PRACTICES AND ACCESS TO
INFORMATION: INTERVIEWS WITH SCHOOL AND
CHILDREN’S LIBRARIANS




Evidence Base
                                                                                                                                               5/21/2012
Contents:


Executive Summary ................................................................................................................................3

1.    Introduction ........................................................................................................................................6


1.2 Methodology ....................................................................................................................................7


2.    Findings .............................................................................................................................................8


2.2 Censorship of fiction .......................................................................................................................10
2.2.1 Controversial content ...................................................................................................................13
2.2.3 Author’s background....................................................................................................................14
2.2.4 Reader development ...................................................................................................................14
2.3 Censorship of non-fiction................................................................................................................15
2.3.1 Dealing with bias .........................................................................................................................15
2.4 Censorship of electronic resources ................................................................................................16
2.4.1 Information skills ..........................................................................................................................17
2.5 Students’ understanding of censorship and reactions to restrictions...............................................18
2.6 The pressure to censor ..................................................................................................................19
2.7 Organisational culture and ethos ....................................................................................................22
2.8 Practical concerns ..........................................................................................................................23
2.9 Support for library staff ...................................................................................................................23
2.10 Summary of findings .....................................................................................................................25


3.    Discussion .......................................................................................................................................27


4.    Recommendations ...........................................................................................................................31


References .............................................................................................................................................34


Appendix A .............................................................................................................................................35
Appendix B .............................................................................................................................................38
Appendix C .............................................................................................................................................43
Appendix D .............................................................................................................................................44




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Executive Summary
A survey of school and children’s librarians in the UK was carried out in 2004 (McNicol, 2005) to
investigate attitudes towards freedom of information and its practical application. This survey raised a
number of issues which it was felt should be the subject of greater research. To take this forward, it was
decided to carry out in depth interviews with a small number (14) of librarians, the majority of whom were
based in school libraries.

Although in theory interviewees did not support censorship, all employed censorship in practice to a
greater or lesser extent. Furthermore, they all acknowledged that the decision about whether or not to
censor a resource was, essentially, a subjective one and practices and attitudes would differ
considerably from librarian to librarian. There were few examples of stock selection policies which dealt
with these issues directly.

Racism, violence (especially against women) and sadomasochism were seen as the most serious issues
which should be censored in libraries used by children and young people. Many also thought a degree
of caution should be exercised with regard to sex, and authors who had been convicted of offences
against children. Swearing was less of a problem, although it was acknowledged that this was an issue
which might well upset parents and often students too. As well as considering each resource objectively,
most librarians would also take account of the ethos and culture of their organisation when making
decisions about censorship.

Almost all librarians’ restricted access to fiction materials according to age; although access was
extended to younger children providing parental permission had been given. Many, especially librarians
in smaller schools, also adopted flexible approaches when deciding whether to lend a book to an
individual child. Librarians claimed that young people were generally accepting of the restrictions in
place and understood the reasons for them. The fear of receiving a complaint from a parent was a
strong motivator for librarians to censor materials, especially as many did not feel they would be
supported by their head teacher or colleagues if a complaint was received. Those librarians working in
schools in middle class areas were most concerned as it was felt that parents at these schools would be
more likely to complain.

There was some evidence of differences between school and public libraries. Decisions in school
libraries tended to be taken at a more personal level and individual librarians made decisions based on
personal views, rather than a rigid selection policy. Furthermore, it was felt that school librarians had
more opportunity to control the way in which resources were made available to and used by individual
students and this might allow them scope to include more controversial resources as part of the
collection even if access to these was carefully controlled.

Graphic novels and fantasy books (e.g. Warhammer, manga), ‘crossover’ novels (i.e. teenage imprints of
adult titles) and art books were among the most problematic types of resource to deal with. Many
librarians were unsure how to treat these and had tried to find a compromise which avoided confronting
trickier issues. Interestingly it was felt that restricting access to certain resources might stimulate interest
in reading among some students.

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Interviewees stressed the importance of building a balanced collection of resources which represented
all sides of an argument. However in some schools, for example, denominational schools, this might not
happen with certain issues. Most librarians labelled books which they felt might be biased to make
students aware that they should look at alternative resources as well.

No librarians interviewed had direct control of Internet access in the library; this was controlled by the
school or local authority. This caused problems because many useful sites were filtered and the ease
with which these could be unblocked varied. Librarians were concerned that these restrictions did not
allow them to teach information skills to students in the most effective way and gave students a false
impression of the reliability of the Internet. Concerns were expressed about many students’ level of
information skills which a number of interviewees did not feel were sophisticated enough to equip them
for the world beyond school.

Support from other librarians was clearly important, especially in situations where librarians did not
receive backing from colleagues or their line manager. Networks, both formal and informal, were crucial
in alerting librarians to resources which might cause problems; helping them decide how to deal with
such resources; and providing support in deciding how to handle a complaint.

Based on this research, the following recommendations were made:

1. Reader development and promotion

Rather than restricting access to materials, school and public librarians need to do more to promote
children’s literature and find ways to engage readers.

2. Selection policies

School librarians should ensure they have a clear selection policy to guide collection development. They
should also have policies to guide decisions made on access to information within the library.

3. Procedures for handling complaints

Librarians should consider devising a procedure for handling complaints which does not leave them
feeling vulnerable, but allows all sides to put across their view and an informed decision to be reached.

4.   Parental involvement

Parents need to be encouraged to take a greater interest and become more involved in their children’s
reading in order to determine what they feel is appropriate for their child and also in order to make
informed decisions about the books their child reads. A single parent should not, however, be able to
determine what books are suitable for other children. Both school and public libraries have a role to play
in informing parents about children’ literature and offering professional advice.




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5. Student involvement

There is more work to be done in developing a clearer understanding of the impact of books on young
people; at present, it is extremely difficult to anticipate how a particular book may affect a child. Students
should be encouraged to discuss books whenever possible and school and public libraries can act as
venues for such discussions. Students need to be involved in the selection of resources in both school
libraries and local public libraries.

6.   Teacher involvement

More should be done to ensure school librarians have the support of key members of staff.

7. Information skills

There needs to be more freedom to allow students to develop a more sophisticated understanding of the
types of information they will find in the outside world.

8. Electronic information

As information professionals, librarians need to be involved in decisions relating to Internet access and
restrictions imposed.

9. Professional support

Professional organisations (as well as SLSs and local public libraries) should investigate ways to give
librarians more direct support in dealing with censorship.

A detailed statement, such as the interpretations of the Bill of Rights produced by the ALA might be
helpful.

10. Training

School and young people’s librarians would benefit from more training, guidance and support in dealing
with censorship issues, both as part of their initial training and on an ongoing basis.

11. Debate and discussion

There needs to be more discussion of censorship within the profession.




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1. Introduction
A survey of school and children’s librarians in the UK was carried out in 2004 (McNicol, 2005) to
investigate attitudes towards freedom of information and its practical application1. This was based on
previous surveys by McDonald and Busha, two researchers who have investigated attitudes towards
censorship and freedom of information amongst school and public librarians respectively in the United
States.

The 2004 survey found that only very weak links could be identified between demographic factors
studied such as age, gender, level of education, number of years experience, membership of
professional organisation and attitudes towards intellectual freedom. It suggested that there may be
some link between librarians’ level of education and the length of their experience and their attitudes to
censorship, in particular, their willingness to put their beliefs into practice, but the nature of this
relationship was not clear cut.

Despite this, there were a number of interesting findings from this survey. Most notably that many
librarians were more likely to subscribe to the principles of intellectual freedom than to put them into
practice. There was general agreement with most of the statements relating to intellectual freedom in
theory, but much greater variation between responses to statements relating to its practical application in
libraries. Furthermore, it seemed that controlling access to resources, rather than failing to provide the
resources at all, was the way in which many librarians censor materials. Although the two are related,
librarians’ censorship practices are not solely determined by their views on intellectual freedom.

The potential for controversy seemed to be a concern; librarians were unsure how they should react to
pressure from parents, head teachers and other groups to exclude resources. It might also be
hypothesised from the findings of the survey that librarians in school libraries are more isolated than
those in public libraries and SLSs, so feel less able to assert their beliefs regarding intellectual freedom.

There were some criticisms of the survey design from respondents. One was unable to complete most
of the survey as she found the questions “too vague or too didactic”. She felt that “Issues around
controversy and censorship are not clear cut and a questionnaire like this is unlikely to give any useful
picture of librarians’ opinions on the matter”. Another respondent commented, “Some of these questions
trouble me because of their black/white approach. There are more shades of grey than this allows for!”
Yet another felt that “Some of these statements are very strong and I have made choices which I believe
are fundamentally right. However, for many of them I would add a qualifying statement indicating
necessity for discussion, consultation, advice or support…All of this points, to the crucial need for
librarians to be proactive in engaging with their customers, especially young people, and in depth
knowledge of stock”. One respondent pointed out that, “sensitivity should be given to the type of school
and the ethos of the school and the school librarian should respect that”. Others said that decisions
needed to take account of the age of the children involved.




1
 Appendix A contains a summary of this research and Appendix B a copy of the survey used. The full report can
be downloaded from http://www.ebase.uce.ac.uk/publications
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As these comments indicate, the type of questionnaire administered in 2004 is not, of course, not the
only way to research these issues. The survey did provide a strong starting point and raised a number
of issues which should be the subject of greater research. To take this forward, it was decided to carry
out in depth interviews with a small number of librarians. The majority of these had completed the initial
                                                                       2
survey and expressed an interest in being involved in follow up work . Others were contacted via schools library
services or individual school librarians who passed on the request to librarians in their region.



1.2     Methodology

In total, fourteen library staff were interviewed for this follow up research. The majority of these were
one-to-one face-to-face interviews. Others took the form of focus groups (2) or telephone interviews (1)3.
The interviews took a semi-structured format with the emphasis being on ensuring that particular themes
were covered during the conversation rather than asking a set of prescribed questions. A list of the
themes which were covered is given in Appendix C. Background information about the participants is
provided in Appendix D. It can be seen that the majority of interviews were working in school libraries4
(12), although a schools library service and a public library service were also represented. The findings
of this research are, therefore, primarily related to school libraries. However, it is worth noting that six of
the twelve school librarians had previously worked in a school library. For the small number of
interviews conducted, the geographic coverage was extensive and the length of time interviewees had
worked as children’s or school librarian varied from one to nineteen years. Most interviewees were
educated to at least degree level and were (or had recently been) members of professional
organisations. However, whilst this information is helpful to provide a context for the research, it must be
remembered that the initial research carried out in 2004 found little evidence of a link between
demographic variables and attitudes towards freedom of information and censorship.




2
  It is not possible to say exactly how many interviewees had previously completed questionnaires as these were
returned anonymously. However, the majority referred to the 2004 survey and indicated they had completed it
either in their interview or in other communication with the author.
3
  The term ‘interview’ and ‘interviewee’ are use throughout this report regardless of whether the data was gathered
via one-to-one interviews or focus groups.
4
  One was a school librarian working in a dual use (school and public) library.
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2. Findings
The following section describes the key findings from the interviews.

General comments


Although most interviewees claimed to have open, liberal attitudes, they often followed these statements
by acknowledging that there were limits to this openness:

   I think most people are fairly liberal, but they like me wouldn’t want to have…

   I always thought that I was fairly liberal and there should be no censorship really, but I don’t know…

   I’m very much in favour of complete freedom, but…you have to be aware of parental wishes, so I try
   not to censor at all, but on occasions I will think, ‘No, I know I’m going to have problems with this’. I
   will not buy it for that, but I won’t necessarily put it out on free access for everybody.

   With young people, the information should be there, but there should be some controls…free access
   to absolutely everything whilst in theory is great…I worry about what they could be exposed to.


Most interviewees realised that there were discrepancies between their beliefs and actions even if they
did not immediately think of what they did as censorship; censorship was not always a conscious action:

   It’s difficult not to…you’re not always aware that you’re doing it; you’re doing it constantly

   In principle…I don’t think there should be any censorship, but as a school librarian with restrictions of
   budgets you naturally censor…I think young people should have access to what they want to read
   because I believe you read to the level that you understand…so in principle, with lofty ideals, I think
   there shouldn’t be censorship, but in day to day practicalities, we do censor; that’s just a fact of being
   a librarian I think.

Even for those librarians with selection or collection development policies, the exact criteria by which a
resource was included or excluded was often unclear. One interviewee said:

       Some things you just wouldn’t have…it’s difficult to say, but you just know when material’s not
       suitable…

In many cases decisions were down to the individual librarian. As one commented, “it’s very subjective”.

Several interviewees made it clear they did not exclude certain materials from the collection simply
because they went against their personal opinions. For example, one had strong personal views on
animal rights, but recognised that it was her professional responsibility to represent bother sides of the
argument. Several interviewees pointed out that, although they might hold a personal opinion on certain
issues, it was important to ensure that this did not affect their professional attitudes:

   You can have your own personal opinion on it, but you’ve got to have a professional opinion as well.

Although there were only two interviewees currently working in a schools library service or a public
library, it was suggested that there was less scope for individuals to make decisions based on their
personal opinions in such organisations. In a school library managed by a single librarian, there was
greater likelihood of this occurring.

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A major concern among librarians, especially those in a single person library, was a perceived pressure
to have read every book they purchased in order to make an informed decision about whether to stock it
and how to categorise it:

   You need to know books before you can censor or promote them or justify why something’s there or
   isn’t there…and that puts a huge pressure on people doing this job because of the amount of reading
   you’ve got to do

   People say, ‘You put that in there, so you must know…’, but there’s no way we can know the content
   of every book

   There’s a lot of responsibility in the gifting over of that title.

The fact that students often asked staff, especially in school libraries, to recommend books put a
responsibility on librarians to take care what they recommended to whom. In a public library, staff may
not feel so vulnerable because most of the staff on the issue desk are not responsible for stock selection
so there is, perhaps, less expectation on them to be able to explain and justify the inclusion of each
resource.

As others pointed out, however, reading every book in stock was not a realistic expectation. Some said
they made a point of reading those books which looked as though they might be controversial from
media coverage, the cover or title for example. Several interviewees suggested other information which
could be used as the basis for decisions rather than reading every book:

       We don’t actually have to read every book, but of our skill as professionals is that…we do know
       books, especially non-fiction…we know publishers…we’ve got all this background information
       without even realising it…

       You know by and large which books are likely to trip people up…the chances of things coming
       onto the shelves which haven’t been flagged up somewhere, even by word of mouth…

Others argued that receiving a complaint about a book the librarian had not read need not be a problem
providing they promised to read it and then respond to the concerns raised.

The question of duty of care versus duty of access was an interesting dilemma which was raised by
several interviewees who felt that, while as school employees they had a duty of care to protect students
from anything which might be harmful, as librarians they had a duty to provide access to information.

One of the questions which a number of respondents to the first questionnaire struggled with was
whether ‘Parents should be able to expect that resources in the public/school library will not undermine
commonly held values’. The need for books to adhere to certain common standards was referred to be
several interviewees. One believed:

       Books can explore injustice, but bringing it to a conclusion which is fitting with our society’s views.

Another librarian commented:

       I suppose it’s up to us [librarians] to make sure that children do have some time to be children…I
       wouldn’t want the library to be full of things which were going to shock or alarm.


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However, as one interviewee pointed out, a duty of care could be interpreted in a number of ways,
including equipping young people with the skills they needed to function in the wider world:

       It’s about preparing them for life as well and this duty of care…is it to protect them or is it to
       prepare them?

Many felt restricted in how they were able to teach young people both about important issues, for
example AIDS and abortion, and also about evaluating information for themselves and identifying bias.
As one interviewee pointed out:

       They need to see things sometimes that are biased so that they can make a judgment
       themselves. They’ve got to learn to be able to detect things for themselves.

In some situations, there were books in the library which the librarian was unsure were suitable for the
user group. It would appear a number did not have sufficient knowledge, experience or confidence to
make a decision about how trickier materials should be handled. In this situation, they might be in two
minds whether it was best to shelve controversial resources where they would be on clear view so young
people would be aware that they could be seen reading them or whether it was better to try to ‘hide them
away’.

The development and spread of the Internet was identified as the major and most obvious change which
had affected censorship practices in recent years. Another issue related to wider changes in society
over time which had had an impact on the issues written about in teenager fiction. Although most
interviewees felt that society was generally more open than it had been in the past, one with library
experience over 35 years felt that there was actually more censorship now because:

       In society in general, there’s a certain morality…which is stronger now than when I first started
       work in the late ‘60s.


Several interviewees felt that teenagers were becoming increasingly sophisticated and this meant that
librarians who had been in post for a number of years might need to adjust their thinking:

       I think they [teenagers] question a lot more; I think it’s a positive thing.

For instance, a book which was considered suitable only for students over the age of sixteen 10 years
ago might now be available for fourteen year olds. Or as one interviewee put it, “What was banned 30
years ago [e.g. Judy Blume] is so tame now”. They also thought that the quality of teenage fiction had
improved in recent years while teenagers themselves had become more discerning about what they
chose to read. One interviewee commented that authors were now ‘pushing the boundaries further’. All
interviewees who discussed this issue were positive about the development and growth of teenage
fiction:

       I think that’s great; it gets them to think about the issues; they live in a different world…



2.2    Censorship of fiction

Many schools divided fiction titles according to the age group the librarian felt they were suitable for. In
some schools ‘senior fiction’ was shelved separately, but elsewhere, it was interfiled with stock for
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younger students. There was just one school where access was not restricted. Here, the librarian felt
that having restrictions would complicate library use for students. In most schools, items were labelled to
indicated which age group they were suitable for (e.g. using colour coding) and often issue systems were
set up to restrict access to younger students. Some librarians had reached a point where they
automatically categorised books as they read them:

       As a librarian whenever you read a book, you’re thinking ‘that’s first year boy; that’s…’. …You
       known where you can slot it in.

Some librarians used their own experiences as parents to help them decide what titles were suitable for
students of different ages. Many said that publishers’ or the school library service’s recommendations
were helpful to assist them in deciding how to categorise a book, and one noted that books supplied for
school book fairs had started to be labelled with age categories in recent years. However, as several
interviewees pointed out, age boundaries might vary from school to school depending on the maturity
and reading abilities of the average student.

The public librarian interviewed explained that fiction was categorised into: young fiction, teenage fiction
(12+) and young adult fiction (14+) and that parental permission was needed if a younger child wished to
borrow books from the young adult collection. Very similar systems operated in a number of schools.
For example, in one, first year students (12-13 years) had to bring a letter from their parent if they
wanted to borrow books from the ‘teen fiction’ collection. In another school a parent could give
permission for their child to borrow a particular title or to borrow any book from the senior collection. In
yet another, the librarian restricted what was available to Year 7 students; if they wanted to book this
material, their parent had to sign their homework diary to indicate they agreed. Conversely, in a dual use
library, some parents had asked the public library service to restrict access to 14+ books in the case of
their child and the public library had ensured this was recorded on the issue system.

Some interviewees claimed that fiction stock was categorised in this way to help students to find books
they would enjoy as well as to protect them from anything inappropriate. For example, talking about The
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, one librarian commented:

       I don’t have any problems with a child with the maturity to see the story behind the story…I’d give
       it to a 10 year old if they could see…But your average 11 to 12 year old isn’t sophisticated
       enough to see…I think it does the book disservice and it does the readers disservice…

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman was another example of a title which was restricted to Year 9
and above in one school because:

       Children better appreciate it, I think, when they read it at a certain age. That wouldn’t mean to
       say I would stop a younger child taking it, but it’s nice if you get to know the children and can see
       what they’ve read before.

It was acknowledged that flexibility was required because some books were placed in the young adult
section because of the level of literacy and understanding required to read them rather than because
they contained ‘unsuitable’ material, so younger children who were good readers might reasonably want
to read some titles. However, some librarians were surprised that parents were so willing to allow their
child to borrow senior fiction titles:

       If I had an 11 or 12 year old, I think I’d want to know what they were reading.

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One librarian stressed that, although she restricted some books which were available for students to
borrow, they were still permitted to look at them in the library.

Another problem was that some librarians felt that titles which would be relevant for a particular age
group had to be restricted to older readers simply because of one offensive page or scene:

       You almost have a sinking feeling; you’re enjoying a book and…you come to a passage and your
       heart sinks…


Some library staff admitted they might choose to restrict or allow access to individual students based on
their knowledge of the student’s abilities and background. In a smaller school, it might be possible for
the librarian to be sufficiently familiar with individual students to be able to do this:

       Once you know the students and their abilities…individually, you have to know the students
       before you can make confident decisions.

One librarian said that if she had concerns when a student brought a book to the issue counter, she
would warn them about it, but would not stop them from taking it out. Another said she would explain to
a more immature student what a book such as Junk was about and explain that they should not just read
the first few chapters as this would give them a false impression of the book:

       I’m very honest with them; I try to explain it so they can really make their own decision.

Similarly, another emphasised that she would not simply stop a student from borrowing a book without
giving a reason and, if possible, suggesting an alternative:

       I think the main thing is I would always give a reason. I would never say to a student ‘You can’t
       have that’ and walk away; I would always…maybe guide them in another direction or suggest
       resources…so as long as I give a reason.

Another took a similar tack, considering this was necessary in some cases even when students reached
the sixth form. When discussing this issue, one librarian questioned whether this was appropriate:

       Should you have the right to make that decision [whether an individual is capable of reading a
       book] or should the students have that right?

Indeed, in larger schools it would not be possible to develop this awareness of individual readers and
their capabilities and certainly in a public library service it would not be appropriate. One interviewee
explained that within a school library environment, the librarian could be more familiar with users and tell
students when they thought a book was inappropriate; to do this in a public library might lead to
complaints.

Another consideration was whether a resource would be popular among students despite the fact that it
was controversial. For example, one librarian said she would buy a book by Melvin Burgess because:

       Melvin Burgess is a really good, if controversial author. What he says to say is very relevant to
       teenagers; they understand it and there will probably be students in the school who will want to
       read it

She went on to say:

       Whether they’re reading something that I approve of is not really the point
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The age range of the school also had an effect on attitudes. One interviewee who worked in a 13-18
school felt she was less anxious about stocking certain titles than she might be if she worked in a school
with Year 7s and 8s. Another thought that having a sixth form at the school meant that she was able to
justify having certain books on the shelves that might not have been thought appropriate otherwise.



2.2.1 Controversial content

Racism was the one issue which a number of librarians felt was taboo. One said she would not stock
materials which were ‘ostensively racist’. Another admitted, “it is different, but I don’t know why it’s
different…maybe that’s just a personal thing”. One interviewee commented that materials would have to
be in line with the school’s equal opportunities policy.

Graphic novels were a problematic format for a number of librarians as these contained frequent
representations of violence, especially violence against women, which many found disturbing:

       I can’t buy everything so there has to be some criteria, so certain subject matters and depiction of
       violence and women I probably would not buy.

A book of Benjamin Zephaniah’s poetry had also created problems for one librarian who felt it was
offensive to women, so was unsuitable for the age group it was really aimed at:

       I had to think long and hard about where I’d put it because it’s no good putting it in the ‘older
       readers’ because the target audience was the younger students; I didn’t want to eliminate
       students who’d be into that sort of thing, so I hit a compromise…I just made it Year 8 and above.

Books containing sado-masochist references, even if these were oblique, were also felt by many
interviewees to be something a library serving young people should not stock. These included a number
of books in the Warhammer series as well as some graphic novels aimed at older readers. Swearing
was seen as less of a problem among librarians; it was not usual to see this as a reason to exclude a
book. However, a number had found that children and their parents were more easily offended or
shocked when they encountered swearing in books.

Japanese manga books were other type of resource which might cause problems as one interviewee felt
that some of those aimed at older readers could be quite explicit. This problem was unsolved; the
temporary solution was to “bury them among the adult shelves” so students may find them and read
them, but they would not be allowed to borrow them.

Awareness of audience

The development of ‘crossover’ titles where adult books are also published as a teen imprint and vice
versa could cause problems for librarians. This was a complex issue as clearly some books could be
read on different levels so something which an adult might be concerned about allowing a child to read
might not be picked up by the child themselves who was reading the book on a simpler level. Another
difficulty was when established adult authors wrote books for children. Some librarians felt that authors
who were not used to writing for this audience may not be aware exactly were the boundaries were and

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did not take as much care in their approach as experienced children’s or teenage authors might do. Yet
another problem might be created when established children’s authors began writing for an older
audience, for example, a number felt that Jacqueline Wilson’s new novel, Love Letters, was suitable for
older students, but not for her usual target readers.

In a dual use library, there was the added complication that, as in a public library, students had access,
at least to read in the library if not to borrow, adult materials which would not have been purchased if
there was a discrete school library. Being a dual use library made it more difficult for the librarian to
control the information which was available to students; she was not directly responsible for selecting
many of the materials.



2.2.3 Author’s background

Authors who had been charged with, or simply questioned in relation to, offences such as pornography
or sexual assault, especially against children, represented a particular problem for librarians. For
example, when William Mayne was jailed in 2004 for eleven indecent assaults on young girls, one
librarian was unsure whether to take his books off the shelves. She did so eventually because they had
not been issued for some time, but she was not sure whether this was the right decision. Another
librarian had decided to leave his books on the shelves because:

       …that didn’t stop him being a really good storyteller who produced some fantastic books.

Another referred to the controversy surrounding Ian Strachan who was convicted of distributing child
pornography, but said she did not think his books should be removed from the shelves. However, if he
was to write another book, she was unsure whether she would purchase it. One suggestion was that if a
children’s author was accused of such a crime, librarians would be advised to read all their books to be
sure there was nothing unsuitable and to be prepared to respond to any complaints that might be
received.



2.2.4 Reader development

An interesting issue raised by one group centred around the perceived importance of reading. One
librarian pointed out that, as a profession, librarians promoted the importance of reading and reader
development, however, this presupposed that reading was an activity which was important and could
have a significant impact on young people’s development. Given this, perhaps even more care needed
to be taken, through censorship if necessary, to ensure that young people had access to materials which
were suitable and would not have a detrimental effect:

       [We tell students that] if you read you experience new worlds…how do we promote that it’s so
       important and that it can affect you and your development, but ‘read what you like’…it’s a never-
       ending circle…

A number of interviewees agreed that it was often difficult for an adult to know who a particular book
might affect a child:


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       It’s such a subjective thing and you can’t possibility know what will make one child feel quite
       uncomfortable; you can only sort of guess roughly.



2.3    Censorship of non-fiction

Few interviewees placed restrictions on non-fiction materials, although art books did present problems in
several schools, where they might be kept in a backroom and only made available to art students. One
librarian had mixed feelings about fantasy art books which she decided to leave on the shelves, but was
not one hundred percent comfortable about. It was interesting that a librarian who worked in a dedicated
sixth form library believed that this made it easier to deal with censorship issues:

       I don’t have to worry about what I’m buying…if they were with the lower school, an awful lot of the
       topics in here, the books, I wouldn’t be able to put out, certainly some of the things to do with
       psychology and sociology.

On occasions when younger students did use the library, they were always supervised by a teacher
because “there’s too much information here that’s not appropriate”.

One librarian had created an ‘honour collection’ of materials on sexuality. To preserve students’
anonymity, this was not security tagged and they did not have to borrow it through the normal issue
system.



2.3.1 Dealing with bias

Rather than restricting access, the importance of developing a collection which was balanced was
highlighted as important by a number of interviewees:

       I think it’s important to make sure there are both sides of any kind of argument.

One said she would not stock British National Party (BNP) materials, for example, unless she also had
materials which presented ‘the opposite argument’. Some librarians used such materials as examples in
information skills sessions to illustrate the dangers of accepting resources at face value. Buying non-
fiction materials from reputable educational publishers was seen as a way of ensuring that resources
presented both sides of an argument and were not obviously biased. Similarly, selecting from a schools
library service collection could eliminate potential problems and provide a degree of reassurance.
Access to information was not felt to be a problem, but the need to ensure that both sides of an
argument were represented was often more tricky; it was not easy to find materials which could offer a
balance to more extreme materials. However, this was not universally the case. For instance, in a
Catholic school, books showing both sides of the argument on abortion were not kept on the open
shelves, but were available if students asked for them

Labelling is another method of restricting access. This was one which seemed widely accepted among
librarians. For example, if they received materials from an animal rights organisation, they might put a
sticker on it informing students that it was written from a certain perspective and needed to be used
appropriately. One adopted a similar procedure for resources written, or sponsored, by a commercial
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organisation. Librarians felt the need to do this because the type of information contained was not
always clear from a book’s cover. The impressions librarians had of students’ level of information skills
was that these were not always sophisticated to detect bias unassisted so labelling was needed.



2.4    Censorship of electronic resources

Unlike the selection of books, decisions about Internet access were not controlled by any of the librarians
interviewed; they were set by the school, or often by the local authority.

Many interviewees felt that the restrictions placed on Internet access within local authorities, and in
particular within schools, presented problems. In a number of cases, an extremely rigid view was taken,
perhaps, interviewees felt, because of concerns about the potential for adverse publicity. One reported
problems because access to newspaper sites (even via Proquest) was blocked in her school. In another
case, the librarian mentioned that finding information about National Curriculum topics such as slavery
on the Internet was difficult with the safeguards which were in place. Where schools had responsibility
for Internet access rather than decision being taken centrally, there was more flexibility and when such a
difficulty was reported, the IT department could unblock a site. Some local authorities were also more
accommodating, unblocking sites when a librarian asked them to. In some authorities, Internet access
for staff was also restricted. This meant that librarians were spending time at home finding and printing
out information for students.

From the discussions, it was clear that the filtering policies employed in many libraries and schools were
too crude to effective:

       I don’t know how we manage to filter it in such a way that they get the access to what they need
       and that that is accurate without accessing material that seems fairly innocuous, but when you go
       into it is actually far more dangerous.

In addition to filtering systems, most librarians were careful to supervise Internet use manually. In one
school, the librarian stressed to students that it was their responsibility to report anything upsetting or
offensive they might come across and other interviewees also referred to the importance of teaching
young people that they had a responsibility when accessing the Internet to use it appropriately

Restrictive filtering systems were not just a problem in that library staff were expected to spend their own
time and resources finding information for students, but much more importantly, they do not teach
students to be self-reliant and to develop effective information handling skills. A number of interviewees
felt that shielding young people to this extent was a real problem when it came to trying to teach the level
of information skills required for them to cope in the wider world:

       You can’t show the true disinformation that’s out there because it’s all filtered out…we’re not
       equipping them with any tools…because it’s all censored…You’ve got to give kids the
       responsibility; if you’re giving the right to information, you’ve got to give them the responsibility
       and we don’t do that in schools at all. We never say to then, ‘Go on these sites…we’re trusting
       you’. If you’re constantly filtering things out, they’ll never learn what information’s out there.



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Although concerns about young people accessing unsuitable information might be of key concern to
parents and teachers, most librarians were more concerned about the potential to obtain inaccurate
information from the Internet.

It was argued that one difference between print and electronic information is that viewing something on a
computer screen may expose other library users to the information. This could be a problem if an older
child was looking for information that would not be considered suitable for someone younger who might
happen to be nearby. However, this was occasionally an issue in relation to print materials too. For
instance, one librarian said she asked sixth formers who borrowed certain titles to be careful not to leave
them where younger siblings might read them.

The discrepancy between attitudes towards print materials and film was another issue raised in most
interviews. Many mentioned that fact that films were given an official classification which made it clear
which age group they were believed to be suitable for. Despite this, many interviewees felt that parents
had a more relaxed attitude towards films and television than they did towards books. It was felt that
some parents were quick to complain about reading matter they felt was unsuitable for their child, but
were less careful about what films and television they watched.



2.4.1 Information skills

The standard of students’ information skills was felt to be especially important with regard to Internet
resources. Many librarians felt the students did not appreciate that materials might be biased; they were
willing to accept the point of view put across in a single resource rather than research more widely:

       In isolation, they see the title; there’s their topic for class; they take one look and think that’s all
       the information that there is.

They felt that few students were ‘information savvy’, especially when it came to the Internet. While the
librarian might ensure that books in the library gave a balanced view, this was less likely to be the case
with material students found on the Internet. Most interviewees commented that they would like to do
more work in this area to educate students about bias and teach them to evaluate information more
effectively.

Most interviewees were able to think of at least one area of the curriculum where they taught students
about bias and the need to evaluate information, not simply accept everything at face value. However, in
order to teach this important skill, it was clear that students needed access to resources which
represented a variety of viewpoints:

       I do feel very strongly that they [teenagers] should be exposed to a balanced view and educated
       into making up their own minds.

One librarian ran an Internet skills session at her school in which she exposed them to spoof sites in
order to demonstrate the need to think about and verify information they found on the Internet.




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2.5    Students’ understanding of censorship and reactions to restrictions

In general, librarians felt that students had little awareness of the issue of censorship. A few librarians
had tried to actively encouraged discussion though. One had put on a display of banned books, using
the American Library Association (ALA) list of those which were banned in the United States and
indicated those ‘banned books’ which were available in this library. Another librarian had discussed a
complaint about a book with a group of students who were taking part in the Carnegie shadowing
scheme. These students felt strongly that if a book was recognised as having literary merit, they should
be allowed to read and discuss it and make up their own minds:

       They are very anti-censorship…they don’t like to be told that they can’t read something…I think
       it’s good that they’ve got views on it.


In the most schools, however, librarians said that students did not raise major objections if they were not
allowed to borrow certain titles because of their age. While some might try to get round the system out
of bravado, most were happy to comply with the rules the librarian had put in place. One librarian only
restricted access to certain materials for Year 7 students and felt that it would be more difficult to do this
with older students. However, those who did exercise greater controls did not experience major
problems.

In fact, restricting access might actually stimulate more interest in books among young people:

       They [teenagers who are not good readers] will only want to read a book if they think there’s
       something dodgy about it

       …sometimes it adds a bit of excitement.

       I want the teen fiction to be seen as quite cool and dangerous and if you have to get a letter from
       their parents, they’re more likely to actually read the books…I’m using the ‘dangerousness’ of
       teen fiction to get them to read

       Some of them want to take out a book from there [the senior shelf] because it’s from there.

Not all saw benefits to restricting access though:

       Teenagers don’t like being patronised and they don’t like being told ‘you’re not to read this book’.

In one school, the librarian illustrated the reasons for the division between junior and senior fiction by
reading a passage from Dickens to first year students to show them that titles were often classed as
senior fiction because they were difficult to read and understand rather than because they were exciting.

One problem librarians faced was that, because reading is usually a solitary activity, they were not sure
how a book might have affected a child. For this reason, several interviewees felt it was important to
encourage students to talk about what they read:

       I’d rather they were reading about it than doing it; I’d rather they were learning about it through
       the books, but are they talking to other people about what they’re reading?

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       It’s no good hiding problems, you need to bring them to the surface and books are a way of doing
       that; discussion is healthy; the more discussion, the more they get a sense of what different
       people feel about subjects and it gives them social cues.

       Personally I don’t ban anything; I just try to encourage open discussion.


Sometimes, students’ reactions to a book could alert the librarian and make them aware that they
needed to look at it in more detail. For example, a book which was passed between students with an air
of excitement might be one the librarian ought to read themselves. In some schools, librarians used
older students to help them decide which age group books were suitable for. Several interviewees
reported instances when students had pointed out something in a book they had borrowed which they
did not think was suitable or should be restricted to a particular age group. In some cases this might be
worth investigating, but librarians were often surprised by the reaction of students:

       Sometimes kids bring a book back and say, ‘Miss, you shouldn’t read that’

       You’d be surprised how prissy and conservative children are

       The kids can be more censorious than I am; they can be very censorious about what younger
       kids read.

A number of interviewees felt that many students were quite prudish about sex, but were less bothered
by violence, which most of the librarians interviewed felt was more of a problem.



2.6    The pressure to censor

Many interviewees were concerned about the possibility of receiving complaints from parents and this
might influence decisions about whether to purchase, or allow free access to, certain materials:

       You’ve always got to have one eye on…almost like a mythical parent who would complain about
       everything.

Some interviewees were concerned that rather than approaching the librarian directly, parents would be
more likely to make a complaint directly to the head teacher, a councillor or even the media if they felt
their child had been allowed access to unsuitable materials.

Some interviewees felt that parents in independent schools could be more likely to challenge materials
than those in state schools, perhaps because they felt they had a greater right to do so:

       I think I would have been more careful…because there the parents pay and expect things to be
       up to be up to their standards.

Within the state system, it was generally perceived to be the case that middle class parents would have
a greater interest in their child’s reading and so might be more likely to complain about materials they did
not think were suitable; these parents might also feel more confident in making a complaint. However,
their level of interest could be a positive:
         Parents are a lot more wary in schools like this [a middle class school]. But it actually works in
       your favour because I find them on the whole a lot more liberal and broad minded because
       they’re readers themselves
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       [We have] very vocal, very literate…parents who are sometimes very opinionated about what
       their children should and shouldn’t read.

Parents at schools in more deprived areas might have less interest in the books their children were
reading and, therefore, allow them greater freedom. Parents might think it was a good thing for their
child to be reading and not be overly concerned about exactly what they were reading. However,
working an area without a strong reading culture could bring its own problems as it might engender a
‘fear of books’. The type of parent who viewed the school with suspicion might be more likely to take a
complaint directly to the media rather than approach the librarian.

A number of interviewees described complaints they had received. While these were not numerous,
most interviewees could recall one or two examples. In a school which ran a Carnegie shadowing
scheme, a parent had objected to a book on the shortlist. She wrote to the librarian and asked for it to
be withdrawn from the scheme her daughter was participating in. The main complaint was about the
language rather than the storyline and the librarian did not feel the parent had actually read the whole
book. In her response, the librarian said she understood if she did not want her daughter to read the
book, but it had already won several awards and she did not feel she should exclude it from the scheme.
Crucially, she secured the backing of the Head of English.

One interviewee had received a complaint from a Jehovah’s Witness family. On this occasion she had
consulted the Head of RE and they had presented a united front. This librarian felt this additional
support from a specialist was valuable:

       Although it was the same argument that I would have given them direct I got the Head of RE and
       we presented a united front.


Another told of an instance when a parent had made a complaint and the head teacher had approach
her to ask her opinion, “the school’s quite happy to consider me the professional”. While some
interviewees believed that their head teacher would support them if a parent or other member of the local
community complained about a resource in the library, a significant number were dubious about the level
of support they would receive. Indeed in some schools, it was felt that because the head teacher was
concerned about the school’s reputation and feared adverse publicity in the local media, they would be
likely to side with the person complaining and against their own member of staff. One school librarian
interviewed had experienced this type of treatment at first hand. Those staff interviewed from public or
schools library services were more confident that they would be backed by their line manager. They
speculated that this was because their line manger was a librarian rather than an educationalist.

It was not only parents who were likely to complain. In one interview, a librarian recalled an instance
when she had been asked to remove a book from the shelf by a member of the English department and
there were other examples of teachers with less liberal attitudes. For instance, one librarian suggested
that students in one teacher’s class borrowed two books, one for class reading and another to read at
home. In another school, a teacher insisted on having a book box for her classroom rather than allowing
her students to choose books from the library because she wanted to restrict the titles they had access
to. In a more sinister episode in another school, a member of staff had removed all the information
about AIDS and HIV from the library. However, this clearly represented the views of one individual

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rather than an attitude within the school generally; the majority of staff at the school were ‘horrified’ by
what had happened and were supportive of the librarian.

Some interviewees spoke about complaints they, or other librarians they knew, had received about titles
they had not expected to be a problem. For instance, one had received complaints about Morris
Gleitzman’s Two Weeks with the Queen because it contained references to homosexuality. In another
case, there had been objections to a book about Loyalist paramilitary Johnny Adair. In this case, the
child’s educational psychologist had complained and the librarian was required to justify the inclusion of
such (curriculum-related) books in the library. Talking about another school she knew, one interviewee
mentioned that the librarian had been asked to put stickers over some sections of art books. This
librarian in a denominational school was also prevented from stocking Phillip Pullman’s His Dark
Materials series. Speaking about another local school, one interviewee said that, in response to a
parental complaint, the school had decided to tear out offending page and block out certain words in a
book.

According to one group, the length of time they had been in post was a factor which affected their
reaction to complaints. As one said:

       As you get older you become clearer about what you believe in and more willing to articulate it.

For instance, one librarian had removed a book from the shelves after a member of the English
department complained, a decision she now regretted. At the time she was new to the job and did not
feel sufficiently confident to refuse. Others agreed that they had received very little guidance in this area
as part of their training and this made new, younger librarians especially vulnerable. It was felt that
support from other librarians in local schools, public libraries and the schools library service was
extremely valuable in this respect. Many would discuss the issue with colleagues in local schools or
public libraries if they received a complaint. One interviewee had reported a complaint from a parent to a
publishers’ representative.

One way of dealing with a complaint might be to ask the person who wanted a book removed from the
library to suggest ‘an appropriate alternative’. However, one interviewee pointed out that as librarians
had limited face-to-face contact with parents, it was often difficult for them to explain about books and
justify informally why a particular title was in the library.

One interviewee thought that most complaints could be diffused fairly easily, but it was important to listen
to the person’s concerns, making sure they knew that their opinion was valued and the librarian would
take it into account and respond to it. If she agreed, this may mean that she would take action such as
putting a warning sticker on the book. However if she disagreed and the parent wished to take the
complaint further, she would ask them to complete a complaint form which asked them to ensure they
had read the item and to explain exactly what they objected to. This was then taken to a senior member
of staff and if necessary, a meeting would be held at which the head teacher and chair of governors
would arbitrate.

Sometimes parents did not ask that a book be removed from the library but returned it because they did
not feel it was appropriate for their child. In such cases, librarians respected parental decisions.


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One librarian talked about the need to make parents aware of certain titles which may cause controversy
which would, hopefully, prevent parents making a compliant at a later stage. For example, when a group
of Year 7 and 8 students had read Looking for JJ as part of a shadowing scheme, letters had been sent
to parents indicating the content of the book their child would be reading and pointing out the publishers’
age recommendations for this title.



2.7    Organisational culture and ethos

The environment they worked in might affect whether a librarian chose to exclude, or restrict access to,
particular materials. For instance, the ethos of a school could influence how certain materials were
treated. It was pointed out by several interviewees that each school and library was unique, so a
decision taken in one would not necessarily suit another and a librarian might need to change their
approach if they moved to a new job:

       I would be very unhappy, I think, about putting something like ‘American Psycho’ into some of the
       schools that I’ve worked in, but I’m not unhappy about it here.

Not all interviewees felt that they would be able to adapt to the ethos of any school:

       Personally I couldn’t work in a school like that [a denominational school which had withdrawn
       books on contraception]…I couldn’t work in a school that put constraints on me on grounds that I
       didn’t agree with.

Some librarians who worked in Catholic schools felt that parents might reasonably expect that their child
would not have access to certain materials which went against Catholic teaching. This might include
both fiction and non-fiction books about issues such as abortion, drugs, child abuse and ghosts. One
explained that she was not able to stock magazines relating to HIV and AIDS and had to take care when
publicising websites such as Childline and teenage magazines which might contain information about
sex. This was clearly a tricky situation for this librarian who believed:

       As a librarian I think that’s appalling, but it’s my job and it’s the ethos of the school and I took the
       post knowing it’s a Catholic school.

The Shell House by Linda Newberry had presented a problem at this school, not only for its references
to homosexuality, but more significantly because it describes one of the main characters questioning the
existence of god. A number of librarians interviewed who had first or secondhand experience of libraries
in Catholic schools, but were not Catholics themselves, felt that any religion should be open to
questioning and discussion and ought to be strong enough as a faith to stand up to such criticism.

One interviewee had previously worked in a school with a high proportion of Muslim students. Here, she
had asked for assistance from the local mosque in deciding how to deal with certain resources. She felt
it was important to include the community and make sure they were consulted. She noted that she did
not receive any complaints from parents at this school on religious grounds.

In schools where the librarian felt under pressure to exclude certain items from the collection, one
approach was to tell students that although they could not supply the book, the local public library would
have a copy they could borrow.

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Some interviewees felt that there was a difference between a public library which was merely making
materials available and a school library where, by providing materials, the librarian was saying they were
appropriate for children at that school:
       The school library is tied into the school, whereas the public library isn’t tied into anything” –
       school library is unique to the school.
However, one interviewee felt that it might be the case that the school library could be less restrictive
than would be appropriate in a public library because it was more of a controlled environment, so more
controversial materials could be made available, but under the supervision of the librarian.



2.8    Practical concerns

Having a limited budget meant that some school librarians were reluctant to spend money on more
controversial resources; they had to focus on building a basic collection and more contentious resources
were not seen as a priority:

       You have to stick to the essentials…perhaps I don’t see a lot of it [problems with censorship] here
       because there isn’t a lot of controversial information here because I can’t afford to buy a huge
       amount anyway.

A related issue was how more controversial resources fitted into a wider collection:

       I don’t think I’d be affected by content or subject so much as the fact that it was relevant and filled
       a hole.

One interviewee was reluctant to purchase more controversial books for fear they would be stolen from
the library.



2.9    Support for library staff

As discussed above, librarians often felt under pressure from a number of sources to censor materials.
The responsibility for determining what resources were selected for a library and how they were
classified was felt to be a considerable responsibility for a school librarian. Librarians clearly appreciated
professional support from other library professionals, whether they worked in schools, public libraries or
school library services. The opportunity to discuss censorship issues was valued. A major concern
raised through this research is the fact that many school librarians did not feel well-supported within their
school. Many feared that, should they receive a complaint, they could not count on the backing of their
head teacher or other colleagues. Although some had build up strong relationships, many felt isolated.
The level of understanding of teenage literature among teachers was perceived as weak and librarians
often felt that concerns about bad publicity for the school would override a commitment to support a
member of staff.

Most librarians had discussed issues relating to censorship with other librarians as part of local
networking groups and on mailing discussion groups and lists. In some cases, it was an instance when
a local librarian had been requested to remove a book from the library which sparked a debate and
prompted others to discuss how they had chosen to deal with materials in their school.
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There seemed to be less discussion within schools, between library staff and English teachers for
example. Some librarians felt that some English teachers’ knowledge of modern teenage fictions was
limited. Some complained that teachers had directed students to books which were not aimed at their
age group for instance. Many school librarians felt very isolated. Comparing her position to that of the
school’s English department, one commented that they had ‘strength of numbers’:

       They would collect together and stand as one, but you’ve got a lot more strength there than you
       do just as one person.

Although in many schools, the librarian felt there was genuine support from the English department, in
others, the English department and librarian did not have a mutually supportive role. In these cases, it
was felt that part of the problem stemmed from the fact that the librarian was not viewed as a fellow
professional (regardless of whether they were professionally qualified). Some librarians felt that because
they were not recognised as professionals within the school, they were not given the support that a
teacher might expect. Some had asked colleagues in their school for advice on how to handle a
resource they felt might be controversial. In some cases this was forthcoming and provided valuable
backing, but in others, no guidance was given, perhaps because the teachers did not know how to
respond to these issues. As described above, a number of interviewees were far from confident about
the level of support they might expect to receive from the head teacher if they received a complaint
about materials in the library.

Securing support within the school before new resources were introduced was one method of gaining
backing. One interviewee had taken this approach by putting out a consultancy paper before introducing
a collection on sexuality. Another spoke of the importance of ensuring that she could rely on the support
of the school governors:

       The last thing I want is to be involved in great wrangles with governors; you want your governors
       on your side, that’s quite important.


Parents’ impressions of librarians was another issue. For instance, one interviewee commented that,
perhaps, librarians needed to be more proactive in informing parents about their skills so they were able
to feel more confident about the materials in the library and the support in selecting these which they
child received.

In one local authority, the schools library service had developed a stock selection policy which was to be
used as a guide throughout the authority and had been sent out as a circular to head teachers. This had
been developed following an incident at a local school library. It was felt that policy documents of this
type were valuable especially for those librarians not fortunate enough to work for a supportive head
teacher. One or two schools had their own collection development policy or reader development policy
which covered censorship issues, for example, setting out the need to ensure the collection was
balanced for example.

During the interview, one librarian asked whether there were any standards provided by CILIP or a
similar body as she felt that these would be useful. There was some evidence that librarians felt that
such decisions should not be the responsibility of an individual, but should be ratified by a group.

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                                                                                                   5/21/2012


Listening to a researcher speak about censorship had been a powerful experience for one interviewee.
Hearing about the difficulties students encountered in obtaining information they needed “really hits you
hard because you realise that you are a major conduit for help”. Several interviewees felt that more
discussion of these issues within the profession would be beneficial. One felt that:

       Lots of librarians take a conservative route and avoid difficult issues, but actually we do need to
       be the ones who make a stand.



2.10 Summary of findings

Although in theory they did not support censorship, all the librarians interviewed did employ censorship
in practice to a greater or lesser extent. Furthermore, all the interviewees acknowledged that the
decision about whether or not to censor a resource was, essentially, a subjective one and practices and
attitudes would differ considerably from librarian to librarian. There were few examples of stock selection
policies which dealt with these issues directly.

Racism, violence (especially against women) and sadomasochism were seen as the most serious issues
which should be censored in libraries used by children and young people. Many also thought a degree
of caution should be exercised with regard to sex, and authors who had been convicted of offences
against children. Swearing was less of a problem, although it was acknowledged that this was an issue
which might well upset parents and often students too. As well as considering each resource objectively,
most librarians would also take account of the ethos and culture of their organisation when making
decisions about censorship.

Almost all librarians’ restricted access to fiction materials according to age, although access was
extended to younger children providing parental permission had been given. Many, especially librarians
in smaller schools, also adopted flexible approaches when deciding whether to lend a book to an
individual child. Librarians claimed that young people were generally accepting of the restrictions in
place and understood the reasons for them. The fear of receiving a complaint from a parent was a
strong motivator for librarians to censor materials, especially as many did not feel they would be
supported by their head teacher or colleagues if a complaint was received. Those librarians working in
schools in middle class areas were most concerned as it was felt that parents at these schools would be
more likely to complain. The ethos of the school was felt to be crucial. Each school library was different
and what might be suitable in one would not be suitable in another.

There was some evidence of differences between school and public libraries. Decisions in school
libraries tended to be taken at a more personal level. Decisions about what resources to stock were
often based at least in part on a librarian’s personal views, rather than being guided by a rigid selection
policy. Furthermore, it was felt that school librarians had more opportunity to control the way in which
resources were made available to and used by individual students and this might allow them scope to
include more controversial resources as part of the collection even if access to these was carefully
controlled.


Censorship Practices and Access to Information                                                               25
                                                                                                    5/21/2012
Graphic novels and fantasy books aimed at boys (e.g. Warhammer, manga), ‘crossover’ novels (i.e.
teenage imprints of adult titles) and art books were among the most problematic types of resource for
librarians to deal with. Many were unsure how to treat these and had tried to find a compromise which
avoided confronting trickier issues. Interestingly it was felt that restricting access to certain resources
might stimulate interest in reading among some students.

Interviewees stressed the importance of building a balanced collection of resources which represented
all sides of an argument. However in some schools, for example, denominational schools, this might not
happen about certain issues. Most librarians labelled books which they felt might be biased to make
students aware that they should look at alternative resources as well.

No librarians interviewed had direct control of Internet access in the library; this was controlled by the
school or local authority. This caused problems because many useful sites were filtered and the ease
with which these could be unblocked varied. Librarians were concerned that these restrictions did not
allow them to teach information skills to students in the most effective way and gave students a false
impression of the reliability of the Internet. Concerns were expressed about many students’ level of
information skills which a number of interviewees did not feel were sophisticated enough to equip them
for the world beyond school.

Support from other librarians was clearly important, especially in situations where librarians did not
receive backing from colleagues or their line manager. Networks, both formal and informal, were crucial
in alerting librarians to resources which might cause problems; helping them decide how to deal with
such resources; and providing support in deciding how to handle a complaint.




Censorship Practices and Access to Information                                                                26
                                                                                                        5/21/2012


3. Discussion
The discussions carried out for this reason raised many interesting questions which have significant
implications for school and children’s librarians.

Although CILIP’s Statement on "Intellectual Freedom, Access to Information and Censorship" makes no
direct reference to age-based restrictions, it states:

          Access should not be restricted on any grounds except that of the law. If publicly available
          material has not incurred legal penalties then it should not be excluded on moral, political,
          religious, racial or gender grounds, to satisfy the demands of sectional interest. The legal basis of
          any restriction on access should always be stated5.


However, a number of other statements and declarations to advocate access for all regardless of age.
The Glasgow Declaration on Libraries, Information Services and Intellectual Freedom (ILFA) states:

          Libraries and information services shall make materials, facilities and services equally accessible
          to all users. There shall be no discrimination for any reason including race, national or ethnic
          origin, gender or sexual preference, age, disability, religion, or political beliefs6.

In the United States, clause V of the American Library Association (ALA) Bill of Rights says:

          A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age,
          background, or views7.

It is worth quoting in full an interpretation of the Bill on Free Access to Libraries for Minors:
        Library policies and procedures that effectively deny minors equal and equitable access to all
        library resources available to other users violate the Library Bill of Rights. The American Library
        Association opposes all attempts to restrict access to library services, materials, and facilities
        based on the age of library users.

          Article V of the Library Bill of Rights states, "A person's right to use a library
          should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views." The "right to use
          a library" includes free access to, and unrestricted use of, all the services, materials, and facilities
          the library has to offer. Every restriction on access to, and use of, library resources, based solely
          on the chronological age, educational level, literacy skills, or legal emancipation of users violates
          Article V.

          Libraries are charged with the mission of developing resources to meet the diverse information
          needs and interests of the communities they serve. Services, materials, and facilities that fulfil the
          needs and interests of library users at different stages in their personal development are a
          necessary part of library resources. The needs and interests of each library user, and resources
          appropriate to meet those needs and interests, must be determined on an individual basis.


5
    http://www.cilip.org.uk/NR/rdonlyres/31984E3D-DBCC-433F-9A89-BBB513E236E6/0/foistatement0705final.doc
6
    http://www.ifla.org/faife/policy/iflastat/gldeclar-e.html
7
    http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/statementspols/statementsif/librarybillrights.htm
Censorship Practices and Access to Information                                                                 27
                                                                                                   5/21/2012
       Librarians cannot predict what resources will best fulfil the needs and interests of any individual
       user based on a single criterion such as chronological age, educational level, literacy skills, or
       legal emancipation.

       Libraries should not limit the selection and development of library resources simply because
       minors will have access to them. Institutional self-censorship diminishes the credibility of the
       library in the community, and restricts access for all library users.

       Children and young adults unquestionably possess First Amendment rights, including the right to
       receive information in the library. Constitutionally protected speech cannot be suppressed solely
       to protect children or young adults from ideas or images a legislative body believes to be
       unsuitable for them.1 Librarians and library governing bodies should not resort to age restrictions
       in an effort to avoid actual or anticipated objections, because only a court of law can determine
       whether material is not constitutionally protected.

       The mission, goals, and objectives of libraries cannot authorize librarians or library governing
       bodies to assume, abrogate, or overrule the rights and responsibilities of parents. As "Libraries:
       An American Value" states, "We affirm the responsibility and the right of all parents and
       guardians to guide their own children's use of the library and its resources and services."
       Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents—and only parents—have the right
       and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children—and only their children—to library
       resources. Parents who do not want their children to have access to certain library services,
       materials, or facilities should so advise their children. Librarians and library governing bodies
       cannot assume the role of parents or the functions of parental authority in the private relationship
       between parent and child.

       Lack of access to information can be harmful to minors. Librarians and library governing bodies
       have a public and professional obligation to ensure that all members of the community they serve
       have free, equal, and equitable access to the entire range of library resources regardless of
       content, approach, format, or amount of detail. This principle of library service applies equally to
       all users, minors as well as adults. Librarians and library governing bodies must uphold this
       principle in order to provide adequate and effective service to minors8.

While certain references (e.g. First Amendment rights) obviously do not apply in the UK, this sets out a
very clear view of the role and responsibility of libraries and librarians.

Furthermore, according to Article 13 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child:
       1. The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek,
       receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in
       writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child's choice.



8


http://www.ala.org/Template.cfm?Section=interpretations&Template=/ContentManagement/ContentDispl
ay.cfm&ContentID=103214
Censorship Practices and Access to Information                                                               28
                                                                                                               5/21/2012
        2. The exercise of this right may be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as
        are provided by law and are necessary:
        (a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; or
        (b) For the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or
        morals9.

All the above statements call into question the practices of restricting access described by interviewees
in this research. For example, most restricted fiction stock according to age, only allowing access when
parental permission was given, rather than only denying access to an individual child if that was the wish
of their parent as advocated by the ALA.

However, the issue is complicated in school libraries by the fact that schools have ‘in loco parents’
responsibilities and as part of this, librarians need to act towards students ‘as a reasonable parent could
be expected to act’10. This is clearly problematic as identifying the expected behaviour of ‘a reasonable
parent’ with regard to censorship is far from straightforward; on this issue, the attitudes of individual
parents may vary considerably. It was clear that many librarians had attempted to anticipate the
reactions of parents in the way in which they had tried to ensure that their policies and practices reflected
the ethos of the school.

As many interviewees pointed out, the effect of a book (or other resource) on an individual child cannot
be determined in advance. Furthermore, children and adults obviously read books on different levels, so
aspects of a book which may be distressing to an adult may not be so to a child. It was interesting that
the issues which concerned librarians, such as violence, were not the same as those which students
found shocking, swearing for instance.

Some interviewees claimed that one of the reasons for restricting access, or at least a side effect of this
activity, was that it ensured that students borrowed those titles which were most suitable for their age
group and might even be a way to stimulate greater interest in reading. However, as there is no
indication that interviewees were unusual in their approach, it needs to be questioned more widely within
the profession whether restricting access is the best way to promote reading and direct students to
resources. The extent of age-based categorisation is a concern as it does not allow for the varying
literacy and other skills and perhaps more importantly the maturity levels of individual children. Many
interviewees recognised this and exercised discretion on many occasions to either allow a student to
borrow a book or to try to point them in another direction if they did not think the student’s choice was
appropriate. However, in larger schools and public libraries this level of intervention was not possible.

Perhaps even more worry than the fact that many young people are denied access to literature based
solely on their age, they are also being denied access to information, especially information provided in
an electronic format. This becomes more and more of a problem as increasingly volumes of information
are provide in this format. This problem was particularly obvious in the denominational schools

9
 http://www.unicef.org/crc/fulltext.htm
10
   The situation is less complex for public library staff who “do not assume the responsibility of a parent, but do
have a responsibility to provide for the care, control and safety of children visiting libraries” (from A Safe Place for
Children, Guidelines from the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals to promote child safety in
public libraries, available at
http://www.slainte.org.uk/Files/pdf/cilips/a%20safe%20place%20for%20children%202005.pdf).
Censorship Practices and Access to Information                                                                          29
                                                                                                    5/21/2012
represented in this research where students were often not presented with a balanced collection to allow
them to make an informed decision. The degree of control exercised over Internet access and the
difficulties this causes, especially in teaching students the information skills they need to use the Internet
outside school, are major problems which are not currently being addressed. Young people are not
being taught to handle information responsibility and, in this respect, many schools are failing to prepare
their students for life in the outside world.


In the United States, Diversity in Collection Development: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of

Rights states:

       Some examples of censorship may include removing or not selecting materials because they are
       considered by some as racist or sexist; not purchasing conservative religious materials; not
       selecting materials about or by minorities because it is thought these groups or interests are not
       represented in a community; or not providing information on or materials from non-mainstream
       political entities.

With this in mind it is note worthy that most UK librarians interviewed said they would refuse to stock
material they considered racist or which they felt degraded women. While at first sight such assertions
may sound laudable, perhaps they need to be examined more carefully in light of the above? A number
of interviewees also said they would refuse to stock materials by extreme political groups, such as the
BNP, unless they could find resources which provided a counter-argument to these views. The 2004
survey (McNicol, 2005) found that the majority of librarians strongly agreed with statements relating to
the need to build diverse collections, but this research has indicated that there may be limits to this
belief. This is a complex area because it illustrates the conflict between two liberal viewpoints: equality
of opportunity and intellectual freedom. It may be that for at some librarians, their belief in the need for
equal opportunities is stronger than their views on freedom of information.




Censorship Practices and Access to Information                                                              30
                                                                                                  5/21/2012


4.        Recommendations

     1.   Reader development and promotion

Rather than restricting access to materials, school and public librarians need to do more to promote
children’s literature and find ways to engage readers. Instead of restricting access based on rigid age
restrictions, librarians and other professionals such as teachers need to find ways to guide and assist
young people in selecting books which will interest them and are appropriate for their ability and maturity
levels.

     2. Selection policies

School librarians should ensure they have a clear selection policy to guide collection development. They
should also have policies to guide decisions made on access to information within the library. This
needs to reflect the ethos of the school. Such documents would help to ensure that decisions are not
made on the basis of a librarian’s personal views and would demonstrate to others that this is the case.
Local public libraries and school library services could help to develop local standard policies which
could then be adapted as necessary to meet the needs of each school.

     3. Procedures for handling complaints

Few school librarians had established procedures for handling complaints; they were fearful of receiving
a complaint partly because they were unsure how they should deal with in and what support they might
expect. Librarians should consider devising a procedure for handling complaints which does not leave
them feeling vulnerable, but allows all sides to put across their view and an informed decision to be
reached. Again, local public libraries and school library services could help to develop local standard
procedures.

     4.   Parental involvement

Parents need to be encouraged to take a greater interest and become more involved in their children’s
reading in order to determine what they feel is appropriate for their child and also in order to make
informed decisions about the books their child reads. A single parent should not, however, be able to
determine what books are suitable for other children. Both school and public libraries have a role to play
in informing parents about children’ literature and offering professional advice.

There may also be scope to involve parents in stock selection. Gaining the support of a body of parents
(such as via the parent-teacher association) may give the librarian greater confidence and support in
dealing with complaints. Any group involved in selection would of course need to be representative of a
range of views.

     5. Student involvement

Students also need to be involved in the selection of resources in both school libraries and local public
libraries. Some school librarians were already making use of students to help them to decide how to
Censorship Practices and Access to Information                                                              31
                                                                                                   5/21/2012
categorise a book. There is more work to be done in developing a clearer understanding of the impact of
books on young people; at present, it is extremely difficult to anticipate how a particular book may affect
a child. Students should be encouraged to discuss books whenever possible and school and public
libraries can act as venues for such discussions.

   6.   Teacher involvement

Many interviewees felt extremely isolated within their schools, so more should be done to ensure school
librarians have the support of key members of staff. Involving staff in the selection of resources and
informing them of, and encouraging their input to, new developments may help to do this.

   7. Information skills

Although based on a limited number of schools, this research suggests that major improvements are
required in information skills teaching. Librarians expressed concern about students’ levels of
information skills, in particular their ability to evaluate information and detect bias. However, they felt
constrained in the ways in which they could teach these skills at present because information available
within schools was so restricted. There needs to be more freedom to allow students to develop a more
sophisticated understanding of the types of information they will find in the outside world. Of course,
schools library services and public libraries have a key role to play in this activity as well as school
libraries.

   8. Electronic information

As information professionals, librarians need to be involved in decisions relating to Internet access and
restrictions imposed. It would appear that, at the moment, they are not consulted and decisions affecting
information access are taken primarily by IT professionals rather than information, or education,
professionals.

   9. Professional support

There was some discussion of the possibility of CILIP or another professional organisation proving a set
of standards to give librarians support when dealing with censorship controversies. Having one set of
guidelines suitable for all schools or all public libraries would not appear to be a way forward, based on
this research. However, a more detailed statement, such as the interpretations of the Bill of Rights
produced by the ALA might be helpful.

Professional organisations (as well as SLSs and local public libraries) should also investigate ways to
give librarians more direct support in dealing with censorship issues as this is clearly lacking in many
schools. Ways to secure greater support from head teachers for their library staff also need to be
explored.

   10. Training




Censorship Practices and Access to Information                                                             32
                                                                                                5/21/2012
School and young people’s librarians would benefit from more training, guidance and support in dealing
with censorship issues, both as part of their initial training and on an ongoing basis. Many, especially
those new to the role, do not currently feel equipped to deal with these issues effectively.

   11. Debate and discussion

This research indicates that there needs to be more discussion of censorship within the profession.
Many librarians are currently uncertain how to deal with certain issues. There are a number of practices
which are commonly accepted within the profession (e.g. labelling, age restrictions) which may benefit
from wider debate and questioning.




Censorship Practices and Access to Information                                                         33
                                                                                              5/21/2012


References

Busha, A. (1972), Freedom versus Suppression and Censorship, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited.

McDonald, F.B. (1993), A Survey of School Librarians’ Attitudes and Moral Reasoning, London:
Scarecrow Press

McNicol, Sarah (2005), Attitudes towards intellectual freedom and censorship amongst school and
children’s librarians [available at http://www.ebase.uce.ac.uk/docs/censorship_report.doc].




Censorship Practices and Access to Information                                                      34
                                                                                                     5/21/2012


Appendix A

Attitudes towards intellectual freedom and censorship amongst school and children’s
librarians

Sarah McNicol

evidence base
Research & Evaluation
University of Central England
84 Aldridge Road
Perry Barr
Birmingham, B42 2SU

Email:         Sarah.McNicol@uce.ac.uk
Telephone:     0121 331 6891
Fax:           0121 331 5286



School and children’s librarians working in public libraries, schools and schools’ library services in the
UK have recently been surveyed to find out about attitudes towards freedom of information and its
practical application in the form of censorship. Librarians were asked to answer a series of questions
about their attitudes towards intellectual freedom (i.e. the right hold and express any belief whatever on
any subject) and censorship practices (i.e. restricting access to information or ideas). They were also
asked to give demographic information such as age, gender and education to see whether any of these
affected their attitudes. In total, 169 people responded.

The research found that there were only very limited links between demographic factors and attitudes
towards intellectual freedom (the demographic factors considered in this survey were age, gender,
length of experience, qualifications, type of library, age groups supported or membership of professional
bodies). Some very broad themes could be seen, but these should be treated with caution because
there were no statistically significant relationships between intellectual freedom or its practical application
in libraries and any of the demographic variables measured. The broad trends identified were:



Type of organisation: School librarians were most restrictive in practice, but
supported the theoretical values of intellectual freedom more strongly than staff
from public libraries or schools’ library services. The effect was especially
noticeable in their attitudes towards controlling access to controversial
resources.




Censorship Practices and Access to Information                                                              35
                                                                                                   5/21/2012
Age: There were no obvious pattern to be seen; those aged 26-30 were the least
restrictive and those aged 36-45 most restrictive.


Gender: There were very few male librarians involved in this study, but men
seemed to be less restrictive then women in relation to stock selection issues in
particular.


Education: Those with postgraduate level qualifications were generally less
restrictive than those without, especially when it came to questions of access and
policy.


Experience: Those with longer experience as a children’s or school librarian were
less restrictive. This was particularly noticeable in their attitudes towards access
to controversial resources and policy decisions. Those with 3-9 years’ experience
displayed the greatest discrepancies between their theoretical values and
censorship practices.


Membership of professional bodies: The few respondents who did not belong to a
professional association tended to be more restrictive and to display greater
discrepancies between their beliefs and practice than those who did. The
difference was most noticeable in attitudes towards stock selection and access.


Age group supported: Those who regularly supported students aged 14 and over
were slightly less restrictive, especially when it came to resource selection.

There was most consistency between theory and practice when it came to diversity of resources
provided (i.e. providing children and young people a range of viewpoints). Conversely, in issues relating
to censorship policy and access to controversial resources, librarians were likely to express support for
the idea of intellectual freedom, but to be restrictive in practice. It seemed that controlling access to
resources, rather than failing to provide the resources at all was the way in which many librarians censor
materials.

In summary, the research suggests that there may be some link between librarians’ level of education
and length of experience and their attitudes towards censorship and intellectual freedom, in particular,
their willingness to put their beliefs into practice. The potential for controversy seemed to be a concern;
librarians were unsure how they should react to pressure from parents, head teachers and other groups
to exclude resources. It might also be hypothesised that librarians in school libraries are more isolated
Censorship Practices and Access to Information                                                            36
                                                                                                         5/21/2012
than those in public libraries and schools library services, so feel less able to assert their beliefs
regarding intellectual freedom.

This survey has provided a starting point and raised a number of issues which should be the subject of
greater research, in particular, research using qualitative methods. The research suggests a more in
depth investigation is needed, looking in greater detail at factors such as prior experience and detailed
educational history. However, probably the most important question for future research is: ‘What
prevents school and children’s librarians putting their principles relating to intellectual freedom into
practice?’. In most cases, librarians were more likely to subscribe to the principles of intellectual
freedom than to carry out practical actions to combat censorship. It is also worth noting that there was
generally support for intellectual freedom in theory, but much variation in how these ideas were applied
in practice; librarians’ censorship practices are not solely determined by their views on intellectual
freedom.

A copy of the full report of this research can be downloaded from
http://www.ebase.uce.ac.uk/publications.htm.




Censorship Practices and Access to Information                                                                 37
                                                                                           5/21/2012


Appendix B

School/children’s librarians’ survey


SECTION A: About you

           a. Age (please circle):

           16-25               26-30             31-35     36-40          41-45

           46-50               51-55             55+

           b. Sex (please circle):

           Male                Female

           c. Organisation (please circle):

           School library              Public library      Schools library service

           d. Job title:

           ___________________________________________________________

           e. Number of years you have worked as a school or children’s librarian (please circle):

           0-2       3-5          6-9          10-14        15-19           20+
           f. Age of children/young people you regularly support (please tick all which apply):

           Preschool                   Key stage 1         Key stage 2

           Key Stage 3                 Key Stage 4         16-19

           g. Most advanced level of education (please tick)
           GCSE/O level                          A level

           HNC/HND                               BA/BSc

           MA/MSc                                PhD

           Please give the subject of any degree level courses you have completed.
           ________________________________________________________

           ________________________________________________________

           h. Please give details of other professional qualifications you are studying for or have
              completed.
           ________________________________________________________

Censorship Practices and Access to Information                                                    38
                                                                                                   5/21/2012


             ________________________________________________________

             i.   Please list any professional associations you are a member of.

             ________________________________________________________

             ________________________________________________________

SECTION B: About libraries

Please indicate your opinion of the following statements by circling the appropriate response below each
statement.

        SA        Strongly agree

        A         Agree

        U         Uncertain

        D         Disagree

        SD        Strongly disagree

i.   The school/children librarian’s moral, literary and aesthetic values should be the standard for
     determining what materials should be included in the collection.

        SA                A            U              D              SD

ii. School/children’s librarians should take care to ensure that materials containing unorthodox views
    are excluded from school/children’s library collections.

        SA                A            U              D              SD

iii. School/children’s librarians should avoid purchasing resources which might arose criticism from
     parents or the local community.

        SA                A            U              D              SD

iv. School/children’s librarians should not exclude materials because of the origin, background or views
    of the authors.

        SA                A            U              D              SD

v. School/children’s librarians are in a position to recognise dangerous or controversial ideas in books
   or other resources and should ensure their availability is carefully controlled.

        SA                A            U              D              SD
Censorship Practices and Access to Information                                                           39
                                                                                                    5/21/2012


vi. School/children’s librarians should concentrate on building on collections of texts which directly
    support the curriculum rather than works of fiction dealing with social, psychological or sexual
    problems young people face.

       SA              A              U               D              SD

vii. School/children’s librarians should not allow young people access to materials with a strong political
     bias.

       SA              A              U               D              SD




viii. School/children’s librarians should provide resources presenting a variety of points of view on current
      and historic issues.

       SA              A              U               D              SD

ix. A censorship controversy over a single book/magazine/website is not worth the adverse publicity it
    would cause for the school/library service.

       SA              A              U               D              SD

x. Young people should have the freedom to read and consider a wider range of ideas than those that
   may be held by the majority in the local community.

       SA              A              U               D              SD

xi. If the head teacher or a local councillor requests that a book or other resource be removed from the
    library, the librarian should remove the book.

       SA              A              U               D              SD

xii. Books and other resources about controversial subjects should be clearly labelled as a guide for
     young people, parents and teachers who wish to avoid works of this type.

       SA              A              U               D              SD

xiii. School/children’s librarians should ensure that access to controversial websites is restricted by
      filtering software or other methods.

       SA              A              U               D              SD



Censorship Practices and Access to Information                                                             40
                                                                                                     5/21/2012
xiv. School/children’s librarians should resist the efforts of individuals or groups seeking to impose their
     views on the management and running of the library.

         SA             A              U              D               SD

xv. Young people need to have access to a variety of resources to help them to develop critical thinking
    skills.

         SA             A              U              D               SD

xvi.     Controversial books should be kept on restricted shelves.

         SA             A              U              D               SD

xvii.    School/children’s librarians should be vigorous advocates of intellectual freedom.

         SA             A              U              D               SD

xviii.   School/children’s librarians should remove resources which are known to have been the subject
         of censorship controversies in other schools/libraries.

         SA             A              U              D               SD

xix. It is the responsibility of school/children’s librarians to provide resources which enrich young people’s
     quality of thought and expression.

         SA             A              U              D               SD

xx. School/children’s librarians should not purchase resources which might offend the head teacher/local
    councillors.

         SA             A              U              D               SD

xxi. School/children’s librarians should make it possible for young people to choose freely from a variety
     of points of view on controversial subjects.

         SA             A              U              D               SD

xxii.    School/children’s librarians need not endorse every idea in the resources they make available.

         SA             A              U              D               SD

xxiii.   Some issues, such as homosexuality or drug taking, are too controversial for a children’s/school
         library.


Censorship Practices and Access to Information                                                                 41
                                                                                                 5/21/2012
        SA             A              U              D               SD

xxiv.   Parents should be able to expect that resources in the public/school library will not undermine
        commonly held values.

        SA             A              U              D               SD

xxv.    School/children’s librarians should make available the widest diversity of views and expressions,
        including those which are unpopular with the majority.

        SA             A              U              D               SD

xxvi.   School/children’s librarians should not allow access to resources which portray the government in
        an unfavourable light.

        SA             A              U              D               SD



                                          Thank you for your time.

               Please return your completed questionnaire in the envelope provided.




Censorship Practices and Access to Information                                                            42
                                                                                               5/21/2012


Appendix C
Themes for interviews

Although no specific questions were set, it was attempted to ensure that the following themes were
discussed in all interviews:
      Reasons for and methods of excluding materials from the library e.g. bias, background of author,
       personal beliefs
      Reasons for and methods of restricting access
      The differences between print and electronic resources
      Provision of information skills teaching in this area e.g. evaluating information
      Pupils’ reaction to restrictions and general understanding of censorship issues
      Discrepancies between theory and practice and the reasons for these
      The role of the profession/professional bodies
      Examples of librarians being under pressure to remove/restrict access to resources
      Support for library staff within the school and outside e.g. SLS
      Reactions to media controversy
      Changes in attitudes to censorship over time




Censorship Practices and Access to Information                                                       43
Appendix D
Age   Gender   Type of             Qualifications      Professional Training Courses         Membership of             Age of        Work History
               Organisation                                                                  Professional Bodies       Children
                                                                                                                                     Only been in job 1 year. No
               Upper School, 6th                       None as yet, only been in job 1                                               previous history of library or
 43   F        Form Library        O Levels            year                                  No                        11-18 years   school work
                                                       Termly training with local
                                                       librarians group, termly training
                                                       group with Notts ELS plus                                                     1969-76 public libraries- mostly
                                                       annual INSET (2005 DFES SED                                                   on reference side, 1977-78
                                                       docs), 2005 Teaching Skills for                                               Northumbrian Water Authority,
                                                       Library and Information Staff at                                              1991-date- three different
                                   MCLIP chartered     Northampton Uni College and                                                   schools, inner city 11-16, 1 small
                                   1973, NVQ in        occasional conferences such as        CILIP, ADUBS, SLA                       town 11-18, current one leafy
 53   F        School, 11-18       Mentoring           SLA Dublin                            (School)                  11-18 years   suburb 11-18
                                   O Levels x4, CSE
               6th Form in         x6, Teaching Cert                                                                                 Finance Banking 21 years,
 43   F        Secondary School    in Exercise         None                                  No                        16-18 years   Librarian 6 years
                                                       SLG and SLA courses covering
                                                       a variety of subjects 1994 to
                                                       date. SfE course on maximising                                                School Librarian since 1993,
                                                       your LRC. Evaluating your                                                     prior to that voluntary work in
                                   MCLIP ,             library (David Streatfield).                                                  school libraries (primary, prep.
                                   Loughborough        Information Literacy for the                                                  School and secondary) from
                                   Library School      secondary school library (Lynn        CLIP since 1975. SLA                    1981-1993 and prior to that
                                   1973-1975           Barrett and Mal Danks).               (member of the National                 Local Studies Librarian,
               State Secondary     professional        Courses on behaviour                  Executive Committee                     Reference Librarian, Lending
 51   F        School              qualifications      management, self assertion, etc.      2002-2005)                13-19 years   Librarian, 1972-1979.
                                                       Many School Library Association
                                   ALA now MCLIP,      weekends. CLIP School Library
                                   plus various A      Group weekends, Study skills,
                                   Levels and O        Library promotion. Also various
                                   Levels. Also        in house ILEA courses. Plus
                                   various computer    various computer and internet                                                 First position as a Library
                                   courses. I am       courses. Large amount of                                                      Assistant in a large Reference
               Comprehensive       hoping to gain      reading o f professional literature   Was a member of CILIP                   Library. All post qualification
               secondary school    mentoring           and internet research in my own       since 1974 not                          positions in schools since 1977
 52   F        11-16               certificate.        time.                                 anymore.                  11-16 years   with a career break of 10 years.
                                   Masters in          Currently involved in Education       CILIP, School Library                   19 years as a Librarian, 12 years
 41   F        Secondary School    Education           Doctorate course                      Association               11-19 years   in schools.
                                   BA Librarianship,                                                                                 19 years-school librarian -
 51   F        School              ALA (CILIP)                                               CILIP (recently passed)   11-18 years   (Cheshire, Nottingham City and
                                                                                                                                                                 5/21/2012
                                                                                                                                          Nottinghamshire)

                                                           Have attended various training                                                 4 years (5 in Dec) as a school
                                     BA (Hons)             days, including local authority in-                                            librarian, 2 years working part-
                                     Communication         service training and most                                                      time as a Library Assistant in
                                     and Mass Media,       recently a one day course                                                      various public library branches,
                 State Secondary     Pg Dip Information    looking at children's fiction at the   MCLILIP/ CILIPS, SLA,                   8 weeks full-time as YPS
  29   F         School              and Library Studies   University of Glasgow.                 SLG, YLG                11-18 years     Assistant.
                                                                                                                                          Working as School Librarian for
                 School (Public      MA (hons, MSc,                                                                                       6 months, before that worked as
  30   F         Sector)             MCLIP                                                        CILIP                   11-18 years     Health Librarian for 3 years.
                                     Information and
                                     Library Studies,
  27   F         Secondary School    Arts Degree           CRS Training Days                      CILIP, SLA              11-18 years     5 years working in school library
                                                                                                                                          Oct 1996-May 2004- School
                                                                                                                                          Librarian (secondary and
                 Schools Library     BA (Hons), MSc,       Race Relations (Amendments)                                                    primary), May 2004 - present-
  32   F         Service             MCLIP                 Act training                           CILIP, SLA, SLG, YLG    3-18 years      School Library Service
                 Local Authority                                                                                                          School Librarian - 9 years,
                 Public Library                                                                                                           Assistant YP Librarian - 9 years
  50   F         Service             MCLIP                 CILIP Courses                          CILIP, YLG, FCBG        0-16            and YP Librarian - 6 years
                 Secondary
                 School/
                 Community
  33   F         Services            MA Hons Diphis                                                                              Nov-18   10 years
                                     MA (Ord); PG Dip
                                     in Information and
                                     Library Studies;                                             CILIP; Committee                        1990-1997 and 2000 - present,
  45   M         Cultural Services   MCLIP                                                        member: Scottish SLG           Nov-18   Librarian at two high schools




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