Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

ALA Asks The Wrong Questions

Last week I had an interesting exchange with a library school student who wrote to ask me what I thought about book challenges, "censorship," and other topics the ALA prattles on about. I answered the questions as politely as I could, and as I worked my way through them I noticed yet another flaw in the reasoning of the ALA.

One major flaw all along is that challenging a book, removing or restricting access to it, and censorship are all equated. That’s ridiculous, of course. It equates some powerless parent complaining that a book is on a school reading list with real censorship, the kind practiced by governments.

If that’s the case, then we should take censorship by governments about as seriously as we take those parents. After all, who really cares if China censors their Internet? China is about the same as some rube in Arkansas upset about Heather has Two Excited Daddies being on the school reading list. We can all relax.

It’s always been clear to me that the ALA OIF likes to dress up book challenges as "censorship" to draw attention to themselves and to pretend there is some sort of threat to "intellectual freedom" in the intellectually freest country in the world. It’s hard to get worked up about some book challenge when the book is freely available in libraries and bookstores all over the country. But when it’s censorship, then by God we’re going to get upset by it!

In the course of the exchange last week, I became convinced that intellectual freedom is just a red herring anyway. Though there might be a threat to intellect in our country, there are no serious threats to intellectual freedom in the United States. Something called the Office for Intellectual Freedom naturally thinks everything is a question of intellectual freedom, but once again they’ve asked the wrong question to distract us from the right questions.

This is what the ALA has to say about "banned and challenged books":

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice. The ALA promotes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinions even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those viewpoints to all who wish to read them.

A threat to the freedom of speech and choice. That’s serious stuff! We should all be alarmed! I was so alarmed by that I looked out my window at the street below to make sure there were no dreaded censors coming to challenge my freedom of speech and choice. Fortunately for us all, there weren’t!

But let’s take a look at what’s actually challenged. According to the ALA:

Over the past eight years [2001-08], American libraries were faced with 3,736 challenges.

  • 1,225 challenges due to “sexually explicit” material;
  • 1,008 challenges due to “offensive language”;
  • 720 challenges due to material deemed “unsuited to age group”;
  • 458 challenges due to “violence”
  • 269 challenges due to “homosexuality”; and

Further, 103 materials were challenged because they were “anti-family,” and an additional 233 were challenged because of their “religious viewpoints.”

1,176 of these challenges (approximately 31%) were in classrooms; 37% were in school libraries; 24% (or 909) took place in public libraries.  There were less than 75 challenges to college classes; and only 36 to academic libraries.  There are isolated cases of challenges to materials made available in or by prisons, special libraries, community groups, and student groups.  The majority of challenges were initiated by parents (almost exactly 51%), while patrons and administrators followed behind (10% and 8% respectively). 

Out of 1,225, less than 10% of those challenges were anywhere other than schools, school libraries, and public libraries. We can also see by these statistics that the vast majority of the challenges were for language, sexuality, or age appropriateness.

Ponder those statistics and see if you can still believe there’s any significant challenge to intellectual freedom in this country, or any censorship. Given the likelihood that most of the challenges in public libraries were for books in the children’s section, about 90% of the challenges regarded the "intellectual freedom" of children.

To put it like that evades the real questions, though. The real questions are: 1) Is every bit of "information" (the ALA’s term for books, magazines, pornography, etc) appropriate for children? And 2), If not, then how are we to decide what is appropriate in what circumstances?

I wrote the library school student, "Would you advocate pornography or violent films in the children’s section? When you were eight, were you ready for Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty series? If you would object to putting, say, The Story of O in the children’s section of your local library, then you are by the ALA’s definition a ‘censor.’"

The ALA blows smoke at us about "intellectual freedom" possibly because they don’t want the public to know their answer to question 1, which is "yes." They must think every bit of "information" is appropriate to children, or they would find meaningful compromises rather than fight CIPA and come across as advocates of Internet pornography for children. (I’m not sure what Internet pornography for children would include, but there would probably be puppets involved.) They want to ensure "the availability of those viewpoints to all who wish to read them" [my emphasis].

They must think that every bit of "information" is appropriate for children, because the entire logic of their crusade implies it. If every challenge is wrong, then every book is appropriate for children, and there hasn’t been a book challenge that the ALA liked.

The difficult question is really #2. This is the question that gets worked out every day in schools and libraries and around the country, with teachers and librarians considering their goals and audiences and negotiating what gets taught and bought. For the most part, the teachers and librarians do a good job, because they’re not willing to be as ideologically rigid and morally obtuse as the ALA OIF can be.

None of those librarians has, to my knowledge, taken the Annoyed Librarian Porn Challenge. Years ago I challenged any librarians who agreed with the ALA’s logic to subscribe to a pornographic magazine and have it shelved in the children’s section of their library. If they were "challenged," the ALA OIF could be their champions! The ALA would have to be, because according to their logic, challenging a pornographic magazine being in the children’s section based on age appropriateness would be a threat to our freedom of speech and choice. That’s what they say about every challenge.

Who outside of a few ideologues could possibly take that stand in good faith, though? According to the library school student, most people agree with the ALA, but I hope that really means most people agree that intellectual freedom is a good thing. Heck, I agree with that. I don’t want people telling me what to read. The thing is, as an adult, I never have anyone challenging my intellectual freedom. It’s a non-issue the ALA uses to distract us from the real issues.

The real issues are whether everything is appropriate for children and how we can decide what is and is not appropriate. The ALA has avoided that discussion because its answer is to the first question is so obviously mistaken and morally repulsive. Given the ALA can’t even ask the right questions in the first place, it most likely can’t do the hard thinking necessary to answer the second question.

Of course, the ALA doesn’t have to do that hard thinking, because the ALA staff doesn’t work in a library. They can take the impossible and morally dubious high road, and leave the hard thinking to the librarians in the field.



  1. Dan Kleinman of says:

    I love the AL, I love the AL, I love the AL. The AL is one of the very few librarians willing to stand up and state the obvious; the others are rightly fearful of ALA OIF reprisals.

    Will Manley is another brave soul.

    AL, you are outstanding for standing out and speaking out.

    The ALA belittles efforts to oppose true censorship by attacking people who wish to keep children from inappropriate material. Like the US Supreme Court in the case the ALA lost big, US v. ALA: “The interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, as all Members of the Court appear to agree.”

  2. I loved my class in my MLS pursuit where we determined the appropriateness of material.

    “Sorry sir, you have to have an IQ over 135 (like me) to read that book on Eisenstein.”

    “Ma’am, your child should read about blowjobs from a fully referenced and illustrated book rather than from Penthouse Forums.”

    “Don’t believe anything you read unless an MLS has reviewed it.”

  3. Library Lenny says:

    Thank you AL! I am an LIS student and was quite surprised when I first learned the “no exceptions” policy of the ALA toward “censorship” – both unreasonable and untenable. The ALA likes to pat itself on the back for extreme positions on censorship that (if taken to their logical extremes) only ideological fanatics would approve of.

  4. ALs Number One Fan says:

    Thanks for once again stating the obvious.

    I don’t think that we every know what to think before we read your wisdom.

    Thank you thank you thank you.

    You are indeed the number one librarian in the world.

  5. Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov says:

    The more books that are banned, the further along the socialism trail we head.

    With the current administration in power, I foresee libraries as having no books and a bunch of twopotopians running around directing everyone to some government approved website for information.

    A brave new world.

  6. Wilkes and Liberty says:

    The oft-levied criticism that ALA is soft on leftist-originated repression but strident against anything remotely right-wing is probably worth considering here. Believe me, I despise much about the American right today and find them ill-informed, self-righteous and hypocritical. But those criticisms also apply to the largely leftist-oriented ALA. For example, would ALA’s OIF be so pro-active about, say, a challenge to a book condemning homosexuality from a evangelical Christian standpoint? Again, I wouldn’t want to read such things and don’t particularly like the politics of Christian evangelicals but fair is fair. I could see ALA politicos waxing self-righteously *in favor* of removing such “hurtful” materials that “promote intolerance”. (Correct me if I’m wrong, but haven’t they done that in the past?)

    What about the big flap in Florida or wherever with that kid’s book that said Cuba was a utopian paradise or some such? The day is coming when ALA will say that a challenge to a book that is factually incorrect is “censorship” *IF* and only if the book is seen (by them) as relevant to their political stance.

    So isn’t ALA already selective about this promotion of intellectual freedom?

  7. Bill O'Really says:

    The ALA is a socialist run organization.

    I heard that on Fox news so I know that it is true.

    They couldn’t say fair and balanced if it were not true.

  8. LIS degrees are a joke says:

    I, too have always felt that the ALA’s stance on intellectual freedom was questionable. It has always amazed my during my time at library school that some people found certain materials were okay to circulate to children when it is obvious that the book is intended for more mature readers. I never understood that.

  9. “Given the likelihood that most of the challenges in public libraries were for books in the children’s section, about 90% of the challenges regarded the “intellectual freedom” of children.”

    In my experience in public libraries, children’s books are rarely the ones challenged. More often it is adult movies and religious adult non-fiction. The sole exception to this rule has been the Harry Potter series, because it’s really about satanism and witchcraft of course.

  10. Bill O'Really says:

    Harry Potter is the new tome of socialism.

    You have been warned.

  11. TheCommonGood says:

    Vladimir, I think you’ve got it backwards. Socialism (such as that practiced in Britain and other European nations) tends to be more relaxed about things sexual/controversial. Communism, on the other hand, tends toward the banning of material lest its people get polluted by capitalistic ideas. There is a difference between the two.

  12. TheCommonGood, you have to remember that many people on here don’t have their MLS, so they are not smart.

    Cut them some slack.

  13. Techserving You says:

    Wilkes and Liberty wrote, “For example, would ALA’s OIF be so pro-active about, say, a challenge to a book condemning homosexuality from a evangelical Christian standpoint?”

    Doubtful! I have often wondered about this, too. I remember a conversation about “censorship” which took place in the “Public Libraries” class in my MLIS program, (a class I had to take because nothing else fit into my schedule.) A lesbian student applauded a situation she’d read about, in which a librarian had removed books on creationism from his library. Apparently the librarian in question called it “junk science” and relied on a collection development policy which required books to have intellectual merit (or some such thing). The girl in my class described gleefully how “clever” she thought this librarian was, to manage to remove religious materials without anyone being able to call it censorship. Yet, practically in the same breath she very passionately claimed that all libraries needed explicit books and other materials which describe and show homosexual sex.

    I want to say that the ALA backed the librarian in this situation… but I can’t remember the details.

    In any case, there are two issues here. What struck me immediately was that this student who so passionately opposes the “censorship” of explicit materials (by, say, not buying them to begin with) would applaud the cleverness of a librarian who manages to “legitimately” remove materials which express a viewpoint the student doesn’t find valid. Total hypocrisy – but a viewpoint I have seen again and again in other librarians (though always in the hypothetical realm… I have never seen materials challenged in any of the libraries in which I have worked.)

    Of course the second issue is that libraries DO have collection development policies. Not buying certain items, or even removing items from the collection, is usually not “censorship.” My library is an academic library and simply does not buy children’s books at all. Is that censorship? And school libraries cater to minors – is not providing a subscription to Playboy censorship? And, a library can base its collection development policy on “quality” or “intellectual merit” (usually with some clear explanation of what that means) – but it should be consistent. A library could choose not to have any materials about religion, or to only have materials that look at religion from an academic perspective, etc.. They should not pick and choose and exclude viewpoints with which they disagree. But, they can choose to exclude whole subject areas or genres, depending on the needs of the library. To say otherwise is crazy.

  14. “there are no serious threats to intellectual freedom in the United States”

    Bwah ha ha ha haaaa!

    Don’t get me wrong, I agree that the ALA is rather worthless in the way portrays these sort of “censorship” cases. But to say that there is no threat to intellectual freedom in the United States is a more egregious misrepresentation of the facts than what the ALA engages in. Look at the current textbook mess in Texas. Or take the recent article in Mother Jones about the police arresting protesters for (legally) using Twitter to coordinate their actions. (The lame comments section won’t let me post a link, but just Google “Mother Jones” and “arrested for using Twitter” or suchlike and you will find the article.)

    Now, the kind of police actions outlined in this article could be a cause that the ALA could take a stand against that would actually have some genuine merit. However, that would involve taking a controversial stand against powerful forces in this country, which might be problematic. Better to just make decrees about stuff happening in other parts of the world that actions by the ALA have no conceivable chance of affecting. Or to go on about “censorship” in the children’s section, which is rather low-stakes in the grand scheme of things.

    But, to make a statement like the one the AL made that I quoted above, one must really have one’s head in the sand. Or, one must only have thoughts that are not threatening to the powers that be. Try taking a stand on an issue that goes against the ruling orthodoxy and in this country and you will see how tenuous the intellectual freedoms here actually are.

  15. Dick Cheny says:

    Flatline, we are coming to get you.

  16. merricat says:

    I think I detect a little MLS-envy from Anon. He/she/it sure mentions it a lot on this blog.

    It took me a script with refills of oxycodones to get though my MLS program. But, look at me now mom! I’m in the big time bucks and making silly comments on a library blog!

    Oh, and yeah, the ALA should encourage the further degradation of youth morals while undermining parental influence.

  17. justaminute says:

    I read the article about the twitter arrests. I don’t see how that is comparable with a government banning access to information? Looks like two people were assisting people is getting away from the police. It doesn’t matter how they did that. You can’t even say it’s an invasion of privacy as it’s out there for the world to see. So I am confused. Obstructing an arrest will get you in trouble, legal loophole or not.
    But all that said, I still don’t see how that proves that the government resticts people from free access to information.

  18. Socialist Public Servant says:

    “intellectually freest country in the world”….AL! you just lost quite a bit of intellecutal credibility with that assumption.

    Self-imposed censorship is an American speciality, and libraies do a fine job of reinforcing that.

    But ALA is indeed a bunch of clowns, and not the ha, ha kind of clowns that make us all laugh. Just the type that cause tears.

  19. Flatline says:

    “I don’t see how that is comparable with a government banning access to information?”

    If you can “freely access” and exchange information in a way that is perfectly legal, but then your legal access/exchange of that information is used by the police to raid your home, confiscate your belongings, and hold you in jail for several hours, how free are you, really? The government doesn’t have to outright ban something in order to produce a chilling effect on the public.

  20. What concerns me in the statistics is the 372 books that were challennged not becuase they were pornographic or inappropriate, but because they apparently depicted gay people without any accompanying hatred and vilification. Yes, the fact that they were probably made available to children is exactly relevant here – the reality is that there will be kids reading them who come from same-sex headed families or who have friends who do, and it’s important that their families are represented in school and public libraries and not taken away because of some random “concerned parent” and their bigotry. Just as black and Asian kids deserve to see themselves reflected, so do kids from gay and lesbian families. This is where support against challenges is entirely needed.

    There is no way that a collection properly representing the diveristy of its culture and users is equivalent to supplying kids with porn, and sneering at pro-gay books as “Heather and her two excited daddies” doesn’t help the case. Does anyone really believe that the world reflected in libraries should be soley that of a hate-filled fundie?

    I have no problem with libraries having creationist books, so long as they are appropriately filed in the fiction section. Seriously, I don’t think they should be removed, because after all, we stock all kinds of obnoxious pseudoscientific nonsense – homeopathy books, for example – and rely on our readers to have the brains (or not) to dismiss them.

  21. Socrates says:

    There are no wrong questions.

    Only stupid journalistic blogger entries.

    Go back to OCLC cake recipes AL.

  22. Suedonimo says:

    The fact that you assume that all challenged children’s books were actually inappropriate for children is sort of mind boggling. Especially since you use the straw man of ‘pornography’. I haven’t seen many public or school libraries buy pornography.

    The ALA certainly exaggerates but there are very real threats to intellectual freedom from large groups that want public and school libraries to be have nothing they deem objectionable (Christian Right Books).

    I don’t know how you can completely ignore this. you are either being disingenuous or wholly ignorant of intellectual freedom issues in our nation.

  23. Suedonimo says:

    The fact that you assume that all challenged children’s books were actually inappropriate for children is sort of mind boggling. Especially since you use the straw man of ‘pornography’. I haven’t seen many public or school libraries buy pornography.

    The ALA certainly exaggerates but there are very real threats to intellectual freedom from large groups that want public and school libraries to be have nothing they deem objectionable (Christian Right Books).

    I don’t know how you can completely ignore this. you are either being disingenuous or wholly ignorant of intellectual freedom issues in our nation.

  24. LIS degrees are a joke – what I object to is parents not doing the hard work of parenting. Don’t complain about the stuff your kid brings home if you cannot be bothered to accompany them to the library. Further, if you’re letting your kid go to a public library alone? You should be written up for child endangerment. Pervs know where to find children, and both are found in large numbers at the public library.

  25. Objectivity says:

    I find all books objectionable.

    It makes it tough to work in a library, but my heating costs have dropped dramatically. This winter was tough. It took most of the muslim collection and baptist collection to keep me warm.

  26. One and a half dogs. says:

    I send my kids to the library alone so they can learn about the real world and how to do things.

    I am not going to hover over them and make sure they are getting what they need and asking the librarian the right questions to get their stupid projects done.

    If they fail, it is their fault and they need to learn from it.

    If not, there is always the Marine Corps.

  27. Post Postmodern Librarian says:

    Keep in mind what Al is trying to point out two things. First, is the Hypocrisy of the ALA OIF and supports. They actively attack right wing challenges but would argue only support left wing books. There by actively “censoring” other sources of information. Second, that ALA OIF dosnt understand that not letting a book on your shelf isnt censorship its selection or collection development. To say otherwise means that if my shelves didnt contain a single romance book I would be censoring. Until the organization recognize this fallacy and uneven approach the Al and others will continue to point it to them.
    To Socialist Public Servant, if a person commits a crime and places information about there where abouts anywhere and police find it, tough luck. Its called going underground/on the run for a reason. At best its an issue of privacy or an unlawful search not public speech/censorship. The reason I can say you have a broad array of free speech is criminals have the right to post such stupid things. If you want to know about censorship read up on the Google/China debate. Its about time Google does the right thing.

  28. airborne vet says:

    Friends don’t let friends have their kids become Jarheads. What do you call a Marine with an IQ of 80? (Answer: “platoon”). Go Army.

    (Just kidding, if there’s any real USMC people on here – I respect all the services).

    The Army also has the best and most impressive research libraries of all the services. I know, I know, AU Library is the biggest but Carlisle has the most impressive collection.

    Sorry to change the subject but it followed from the last comment’s reference of the Marine Corps. Back to yammering about censorship I suppose now.

  29. Airborne Ranger says:

    We should just organize all the military librarians and go and take back the libraries from the socialists that took them over.

    It would be a cake walk.

  30. LIS degrees are a joke says:


    I do not send my kids alone to the library. That being said, librarians should use common sense. If a 10 year old kid wants to check out Madonna’s Sex book, the librarian should use know better than to allow them to check it out! Yeah, parents need to monitor, but for those who just casually drop their kids off, while it may not be the library’s job to babysit, they need more discretion as to what materials are appropriate for certain patrons.

  31. It is not up to the librarian to make any decision about what to give to a ten year old.

    If they want the Joy of Sex, get it from the shelf and give it to them.

    Freedom of speech does not come with an age caveat.

    Where do you start giving kids books?

    Dr. Seuss promotes socialism.

    The Berenstien Bears advocates beastiality.

    Richard Scarry is scarry.

    Just where do you draw the line?

    Oh wait, you have an degree, so you are much smarter than I.


  32. Library Guy says:

    There’s no – it may not be the library’s job to babysit – to it. It IS NOT the library’s job to babysit. With that said, I agree, common sense is good. But when we say to a 10-year-old they can’t check out Madonna’s book, what do we say when their parents come in and argue that Little Jimmy’s rights have been violated?

    It’s all about having your library board develop and adopt a good policy on collection development. If the material passes grade on your policy, if there are quality reviews from reputable sources in regards to the material, if you’ve purchased the material with an educated idea of why it should be a part of the collection, then it should pass muster. Whomever wants to contest it can do so.

    You know, quite frankly, I don’t feel a great need to defend Walter Mosley’s right to freedom speech by adding The Killing of Johnny Fry. I’ve got better things to do and bigger issues to concern myself with than whether or not children are being recruited to the homosexual lifestyle by a pair of nesting penguins – you can get the book through ILL.

  33. PBR librarian says:

    What Suedonimo said.

    @LIS degrees are a joke – if an unaccompanied child is looking for materials on sex, then I would certainly find them age appropriate materials, however, if they were to walk over to the checkout desk with their card and want to check out the Madonna Sex book that they found on their own I’m not going to stop them. I am not a babysitter to monitor nor am I that child’s parent to decide what materials they can and cannot have. And preventing them from having that book certainly isn’t worth getting fired over.

  34. Shakesburg says:

    “It’s all about having your library board develop and adopt a good policy on collection development.”

    A rose by any other name smells like a

  35. Library Guy says:

    As far as LIS degrees being a joke – I’m not going to apologize for having one. You need the degree to get the job, some of us went through the effort of passing the tests put before us, making the grades necessary, and we earned the degree. That’s all there is to it. But please, keep up the insults if it makes you feel better.

  36. PBR Rider says:

    If a kid can find the Madonna Sex book on the shelf with any “naughty bits” not slashed out, I say, more power too him (or her).

    Go bop til you drop.

  37. Library Guy says:

    How can having a good collection development policy be censorship? You do that ahead of time, so that these issues don’t arise. You can’t possibly purchase everything. Do you have an explanation for your remark, or are you just shouting to hear yourself shout?

  38. Library Fiend says:

    Ok, develop your collection the way you see fit.

    What are you going to do to the 10 year old who has an ILL request for Madonna’s Sex book?

    You better honor his rights.

    If your board has a “policy” against this, it is censorship.

  39. Library Guy says:

    Aren’t we all supposed to develop our collections as we see fit?

    When the book comes in, he gets it. Somebody wants to challenge that the book is on the shelf, they can go to the lending library. We’re just the middle man.

    My board doesn’t have a ‘policy’ against this. But, if they did – and since they are the governing body of the library, appointed by the mayor, on behalf of the community – my options would be to either follow the policy, or find a different job. Seems very simple to me.

  40. why not? says:

    People throw about the “in loco parentis” argument as if it was self evident common sense. But if I am not mistaken it comes from the same organization who Asks the Wrong Questions. Why can’t librarians act in loco parentis? This is a profession. Librarians should not shrink from doing what is hard. School teachers have to enforce discipline in class. Is that not acting in loco parentis? Are librarians not as intelligent as they are? I would like to hear some of the reasons pro and con “in loco parentis” not just the assumption that its validity is self evident to all.

  41. “I have no problem with libraries having creationist books, so long as they are appropriately filed in the fiction section…”

    Really? Interesting point you make there. I could just as easily say, I have no problem with Global Warming books, just so long as they are shelved in the fiction section, or I have no problem with Sylvia Browne, just so long as she is shelved in the fiction section, or I have no problem with books on the latest herbal cure du jour, just so long as it is shelved in the fiction section.” I’ve always felt that librarians who claim to know what good information is are the biggest hypocrites anyway. Oh yes ma’am, here’s the latest fad diet book that will damage your liver, heart, kidneys etc. etc…it is filed right here in our “nutrition” section…

    Gimme a break.

  42. I can’t buy the “in loco parentis” argument. Anything happens to the kids? I don’t even want to think about it.

    The tiny town I grew up in? Everyone knew everyone so the library was a very safe haven. The huge main library I worked in? We had exhibitionists, homeless people, crazy people, peepers – no way should children be unaccompanied.

    I’m in an academic library now and we’ve had staff from other departments try to leave their kids with us during summer and semester breaks. We don’t allow it, plain and simple.

  43. TwoQatz: how did the library get to be such a dangerous place for children? Doesn’t the library have connections to places who can assist the homeless and the mentally unstable? Should a library be a place where exhibitionists, peepers, etc. hang out? Why is this tolerated?
    As for “in loco parentis” I don’t think it means “babysit” I think it has to do with watching out for the best interests of children, which would include steering them away from materials which could have a harmful affect, such as the examples the AL offers.

  44. NotMariantheLibrarian says:

    If you had ’em, you tend to ’em. Kids that is. If you don’t want them reading books you don’t approve of, looking up “dirty” words in a dictionary, etc. then it’s your job to protect your kids, not society’s. I wouldn’t want my children exposed to the uptight sorts who would ban Merriam-Webster’s dictionary because it contains terms like “oral sex.” BTW – the original Latin means simply “in the place of the parents.” There isn’t a “best interests” implication there.

    Do you work in a metropolitan public library, why not? Just try keeping the homeless, mentally ill, perverted, peeping sorts out of the public library. Better they hang out in the public libary than city hall or the court house …

  45. LibLarva says:

    I’m an MLS student. I wrote a paper arguing against libraries allowing internet porn and nearly failed my class because I didn’t toe the line with the ALA mantra.

  46. NotMariantheLibrarian says:

    What constitutes Internet porn? Your definition might vary from another’s. One person’s porn is another person’s erotica. There are some who consider images of scantily clad women porn – never mind that no genitalia can be seen, there are visible breasts!!! Remember John Ashcroft covering the Spirit of Justice statue because of bare boobies?

  47. I’m not a prude. I’m not talking about tits on a statue or reading erotica. I’m talking about xxx hardcore porn. I wrote the paper after a trip to the local library. I happened to walk past a row of computers and every third monitor was on a hardcore porn site with videos playing. Porn shop adult movie time. Sex on screen. Cum shots. Porn. Public library. Adults and kids as young as 8 were on the computers nearby. One of the kids was watching the porn with an adult. Three rows of 8-10 computers. Children’s section across the hall. So not cool.

    I asked the librarian about it. The desk was not 5 feet from the computers, and librarian gave me a look like I was a freak for even asking.

    If that’s what the ALA wants to promote, then to hell with the ALA.

  48. ConfusedByItAll says:

    Thanks for the warning, LibLarva. A retired librarian reminded me to not sign my real name to blogs that promote children-friendly libraries (meaning those publicly-funded building should have no videos like those described by LibLarva. You know porn when you see it. If you didn’t, adult video stores wouldn’t know what to put on their shelves, so stop with that ridiculous arugment).

    I love the whole “that’s censorship” argument. Censorship is not allowing it at all, anywhere, people.

    I don’t care a whit what the hell people do at home, but when you strong-arm people into giving up part of the money they earn through taxes, you better damn well make sure they’re safe places for kids and adult who are sexual abuse victims. Or are those people just not supposed to use the library?
    Having quite an issue right now with our library, since some mothers -gasp – don’t want porn visible when they take their kids past the computers on the way to storytime (yes, there is only one pathway). The nerve to interfere with someone using a publicly-funded computer to access a medium that has been repeatedly proven to be a detriment to society! What gall!

    Of course, the ALA is notoriously dishonest: Bush and the Patriot Act = vitriolic columns and responses because the gov’t should NEVER have that kind of power; Obama extending the Patriot Act and REMOVING the provisions that help make sure the gov’t is not overstepping its bounds = good, not worthy of any response, because, hey, there was a terrorist attack at Ft. Hood, you know, and Barry is just looking out for the safety of the US citizenry.
    The ALA believes in the concept of Int. Freedom as long as you only say things that agree with their beliefs: don’t dare be a librarian who dares state an opinion that disagrees with the mighty Oz!
    It’s so sad that the ALA has so much power that you cannot speak out if you like having food and shelter and want any chance of getting the few jobs now available in the field in which you’ve studied. Freedom my A(unt)SSally.

  49. Want to know why lots of libraries are being closed, why funding is cut, why attempts to raise property taxes for libraries are being defeated?
    Libraries have been given over to people who want to view porn. Will these people pay for library services? Will they speak up for the library? They won’t be interested. They are far too busy looking for ways to pleasure themselves.
    If the libraries were cleaned up and made safe for children again, their parents would be your best friends. By making them your enemies, they refuse to support you when you need it.

  50. Libraries have not been given over totally to people who want to view porn.

    There is a huge population of homeless that need a place to sit, sleep, go the bathroom, and be safe from the streets. These people have found a home in the library.

    Soon as we can get rid of the books and shelves, we can put in the facilities that can properly take care of these unfortunate souls.

    God Bless us One and All.

  51. Libraries have not been given over totally to people who want to view porn.

    There is a huge population of homeless that need a place to sit, sleep, go the bathroom, and be safe from the streets. These people have found a home in the library.

    Soon as we can get rid of the books and shelves, we can put in the facilities that can properly take care of these unfortunate souls.

    God Bless us One and All.

  52. LibLarva says:

    Yes, once the books and shelves are gone then we can take care of the homeless and the pervs.

    Too bad that means the loss of a library.

    Personally, I’m going into library science because I want to work in a library. Not a porn shop, and not a homeless shelter. So much for public library work then I guess…

  53. Texas Liberal Librarian says:

    This must be where the extreme right wingnuts hang out! If the religious Republican right had it’s way there would for sure be no freedom – and yet some of you retard can’t distinguish between reality and what some demagogue tells you. Go hang out with Sarah Palin, believe that public administrators will ration health care more than insurance companies, and that Democrats are out to burn books. You people deserve to have your tangent to reality upgraded.

  54. Log Cabin Republican says:

    I love how a self-proclaimed liberal can defame developmentally disabled people.

    What do you call African-Americans?



    You sir, make me sick.

  55. Ctrl + V says:

    “I love how a self-proclaimed liberal can defame developmentally disabled people.”

    Exactly! Texas Liberal should have used F-tard, instead.

  56. In response to AL:

    Question 1:
    Maybe it is, maybe it is not. It depends one how you are trying to shape children, and how one suspects certain types of information will come to bear on the child’s development. Generally, parents determine what is appropriate for their get. K-12 librarians may have to function in that role in absentia of the parent.

    Question 2:
    Libraries catalog materials depending on content. A cataloger will not arbitrarily place “A Hand in the Bush: The Fine Art of Vaginal Fisting” in the children’s section, nor would Penthouse be placed there.

    Using an either/or fallacy necessarily diminishes your argument. Using any standard of cataloging would necessarily prohibit the placement of Penthouse, The sleeping beauty series, The satanic bible, Univeristy Chemistry for non-chemistry majors and other material in the children’s section.

    Placing materials in the relevant sections as appropriate to their content is not censorship. No Reading of the ALA statement on book challenges, even an exceptionally obtuse one, could be construde as such.

    Thus, the pornography challenge is moot. It shouldn’t be shelved in the children’s section in the first place, because, it is not a children’s magazine. In most states, it’s distribution is restricted to those 18 years of age or older. It would, in fact, be legally problematic to do this.

    How then, can you derive satisfaction when none are able to complete your impossible task? It does not prove anything, because it cannot prove anything.

    Being obtuse and creating false dichotomies in order to further villanize an easy target within your former profession may get your blog more hits, but it necessarily makes your conclusions untenable.

  57. C’mon, caustic.

    Stay on point.

    The commenters here don’t give a rat’s tail about what the AL thinks or writes. AL is one journalist who is getting paid to be “controversial” so that hits can increase.

    Comments should remain on calling each other schoolyard names.

    You poopy head.

  58. mea culpa, venom.

    I must question the use of the title journalist for AL. Her or she is a pundit, as what is posted is opinion, rather than reporting.

    Pray, does dickfeather count as a schoolyard name?

    If so, consider yourself one.

    If not, then I invoke the ‘rubber/glue’ rule upon you.

  59. How did you know the kids taunted me with the schoolyard moniker dickfeather? All those years of therapy are now worthless. Thanks.

    AL is indeed on the staff of the Library Journal and I seriously doubt ever attended library school, went to a library of any kind for any kind of service, or even read a book.

    Just my two cents.

  60. Caution Contents Hot to Trot says:

    “The LORD says to AL, “I will cut you down to size among the librarian bloggers. And you will be despised by all.” Jeremiah 49:15

  61. to venom:

    I use charity in this case. I believe AL to have been a librarian, and to have experience in the field of librarianship. I will take his or her claims of experience at face value. We do afterall have to be credulous at some point in order for there to be anything other than noise.

    It is the claims that AL makes otherwise that i find dubious and intellectually dishonest, more often then not.

  62. I. Prefer. Not. To. says:

    “For it is not a librarian who reproaches me; Then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted her blog against me; Then I could ignore her URL. But it was you, AL my equal, my companion and my co-professional. We took sweet martinis together, and walked to the house of God in a thong bikini.” (Psalm 55:12-14)

  63. You are all socialists.

    and you all have cooties.

  64. Perhaps there should be an analog to Godwin’s law for librarian blogs.

    It states that:
    As a discussion in a librarian’s blog grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving socialists or socialism approaches 1.

    It just needs a catchy name. Any suggestions?

  65. Big AL’s Socialist Blog Corollary

    dog breath

  66. Early American Firearms says:

    You know, venom, we all have our inner demons. I, for one – I can’t speak for you, but I’m on the verge of moral collapse at any time. It can happen by the end of this post.

  67. If you do have a moral collapse, I hope that you have one of your trusty flintlocks nearby so you don’t have to suffer too long before you can end it all.

    Either that or wait for affordable mental health care from the guvmint.

  68. Jesus just left Chicago says:

    Look, I’m in the middle of creating a database of sexual perverts who frequent our public restroom. I have no time for suicide or socialism.

    What did Glenn Beck say and I quote with pride: “Without failure there is no sweetness in success. There’s no understanding of it.”


  69. Most of the sexual perverts who frequent our public restrooms are suicidal socialists.

    I think I saw Glenn Beck heading to the Men’s room too.

    Go figure.

  70. 6 of one half dozen ≠ 3 says:

    You know Beck is out to score that 17 year old boy that hangs out on the computers all day looking for some pocket change.

    What does Beck say: “What is the point of competing for a trophy if everyone gets a trophy?

  71. Everyone getting trophies is socialism’s way of making everyone feel good even though they are getting the shaft.

    Right On!

  72. Dismemberment Disorder says:

    I agree!

    Again, I quote Beck: “We should reject big government and look inside ourselves for all the things that built this country into what it was.”

    Obviously he is referring to the Colon.

  73. I Dismember Mama says:

    No No No.

    There is heart in their.

    And Brains.

    And guts.

    And liver.

    And kidneys.

    And lungs.

    And pancreases.

    Sorry, I am hungry now.

  74. NADA Manufactured Housing Cost Guide says:

    I think we should offer up Glenn Beck as a burnt offering, if Leviticus has any relevant import on the matter. Perhaps a roasted Beck will save this great nation and free AL from her role as Library Journal hit maker.

    Beck states clearly: “Political Correctness doesn’t change us, it shuts us up.” I think we should add that a charred body offering the YHWH would also tend to a more silent outcome.

  75. Glen Beck is more popular than Jesus these days.

  76. Transubstandardization says:

    Jesus is the Beatles is Glenn Beck.

  77. Holey Ghost, Batman says:

    If we nail Glenn Beck to a cross in a couple of weeks, do you think he will arise and go up to meet Rush Limbaugh (who as we all know has ascended away from America now that Health Care Has passed).


  78. crypto-krypto says:

    The passion of Glenn Beck is certainly our era’s Mel Gibson movie.

    Remember that nugget of wisdom he cogently stated: “Remember, beneath every cynic there lies a romantic, and probably an injured one.”

    He’s obviously referring to the spikes in his hands.

  79. Face it, libraries are the last bastion of true socialism.

  80. 60% Post Consumer says:

    “Face it, libraries are the last bastion of true socialism.”

    You mean public libraries, right?

    We should get rid of every single social program in the United States, me thinks: assistance for children, public schools, public libraries, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Food stamps, Head Start, Police, Fire, Sanitation, Public Transportation, Disaster relief, & more.

    I’m serious. This would finally do what we all want done and that is to kill off the poor, disabled, elderly, sick and incapable and re-establish the aristocracy.

    Hell Yeah! As Glenn Beck was stated: “You pinhead. You think we would actually be sitting here and saying “well, look at the way she was dressed?” If she were Joan McCain, stop it. You self-centered self-righteous socialist out of control dangerous man-hating bitch. Shut your mouth. We might have bought into this crap in the 1960s because too many people were doing LSD. We’re not on LSD anymore — we need to start making sense.”

  81. No, I mean all libraries.

    Librarians think they know better than everyone else. That is why they are stuck in go no where jobs getting paid peanuts.

    In a word — socialists.

    To say you are not is to be in the closet and in denial.

  82. “We’re not on LSD anymore — we need to start making sense.”

    1. Glenn Beck can speak for himself on this matter.

    2. Things -do- make sense on LSD. Just not the kind of sense upon which to base statecraft.

  83. Logic for the impaired says:

    a) All librarians think they have superior knowledge

    b) All librarians think all non-librarians do not share their superior knowledge

    c) All librarians who thinks they have superior knowledge in contrast with the rest of the population, who they believe have mediocre knowledge, work in low-paying jobs with little mobility

    d) All socialists, librarian or not, have low-paying jobs with little mobility

    e) Therefore all people who think they have superior knowledge over the rest of the population work in low-paying jobs with little mobility at a library and therefore are socialists.

    Ah, I see! Now it all makes sense.

  84. Miss Prim says:

    You people are awful.

    How can you take a serious blog about libraries and turn it into some troll filled hateland?

    How can you? How do you sleep at night?

    I imagine that you scurry back to your one room, cold water flat that you share with your fifteen cats. I see you sitting there all night thinking of more ways you can derail this wonderful resource.

    Shame on you.

  85. Right up to your face and dis U says:

    F/uck you, Miss Prim, and go back to work and chill your overly sensitive self down. We didn’t invite you to this most prestigious debate on the future of the world and Glenn Beck. Scat! Shoo!

  86. Miss Prim says:

    I see your type hanging around the library all the time.

    You have seen way too many porn movies. Just because I wear half glasses and keep my hair in a bun doesn’t mean I am a sex machine once you unleash yourself.

    I would appreciate it if you would stop leering at me and masturbating in the carrels when I am on duty.


  87. Woody Allen says:

    Hey, don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone I love.

  88. Answering the the ALA while the says:

    Onanism is a sin in the eyes of God!

  89. vv.richard6 says:

  90. ostensiblelibrarian says:

    Thanks for calling out the profession on its ridonkulous definition of censorship, AL. I think back to when the news of children’s author K.P. Bath’s child porn charges broke. I said on a youth services listserv that if he was convicted, I would not feel comfortable suggesting his books.

    Note: I did not say that I would remove his books from my library’s collection. I did not say that I would hide his books behind the desk, or delete his books’ catalog records. I did not invite the listserv to a Bath book burning/marshmallow roast. I merely pointed out that I wouldn’t want to knowingly hand children a book by a convicted pedophile; beyond my personal reservations, I’d lose the trust of my community’s families if I did so.

    I got an instant flood of email: “ZOMG YOU ARE TEH CENSOR!!!1!1!!1eleventy!!1″ Very few librarians bothered with critical thinking. They simply spouted the ALA party line of “refusal to suggest a book to a patron equals bad bad censorship.” It was neither the first nor the last debacle that made me wonder why I am in this profession.

  91. ALA and LJ Weep says:

    Interesting to watch a bunch of surplus labor crack on other surplus labor. The Chinese were on to it when they made the intelligentsia go dig ditches for a few years. Others have an excuse for the uninformed drivel they express; librarians have no excuse, they just stink. I wish I could fire you all! At least all the layoffs mean less theft from the taxpayers…..”you are all worthless and weak. Now drop and give me 20!”

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