Literacies and issues of intellectual freedom


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  • What is it? Why is it important? Who provides support and guidance? What are the key documents & resources?
  • Children, Young Adults and the Digital Age Impact of technology on print and non-print worlds Goal of Literacy and New Literacies
  • Why should we defend it? Core value of librarianship Ensures all voices are heard Ensures that the diversity of thought in our communities is represented And a reminder that the fact that a particular item is on the shelf does not mean that you or the library endorses its content. What the library does endorse is free access to that item, despite the objections of those who would censor it. When we do defend intellectual freedom: We wrestle with ethical and philosophical dilemmas We challenge ourselves and others to entertain or at least tolerate different ideas and values We get into trouble – with community organizations, churches, parents, those on the right and those on the left And if we don’t: We allow voices to be silenced We open the door for other voices to be silenced We erode this core principle
  • In the several decades since my first library job in the 1970s, we have gone from reel-to-reel tape and 16mm film to mp3 and blue-ray; from room-sized computers to handheld mobile devices. This changing relationship with how Canadians seek out information and entertainment has necessarily meant a change in approach for libraries – new literacies for librarians as well as for our patrons. As well we are facing a whole new set of challenges with respect to the community’s expectations that we provide a “safe” environment for children and youth. Audio – Does anyone remember challenges to heavy metal and rap music in your cassette and CD collections? Visual – I’ve included comics and graphic novels here because both tend to be challenged as much for the visual representation of their content as for the content itself. This is equally true of Video and DVD. Public computers – Our first public computers in the late 80s and early 90s offered controlled content – CD-Roms, installed programs, “safe” educational games like Magic School Bus. When the Internet opened the world to our public library users in the mid-90s, we were faced with an unlimited and uncontrollable landscape of visual images and information. We have all struggled with ways to protect access to wide array of information while offering some measure of safety for young children.
  • The Internet has given individuals, organizations, and businesses a new opportunity to promote and communicate their ideas worldwide. It has also given users of our public computers access to vast array of information – both authoritative and blatantly inaccurate, child-friendly and full of sexual and violent images. As librarians, we are charged with extricating resources that may be of value to our patrons and with making hard decisions about the type of access we provide. Among the most controversial and difficult of these is our decisions about the type of access we provide to children.
  • I’m going to give you some historical and current examples of challenges and censorship from British Columbia.
  • These are some historical examples of attempts at censorship in the second half of the 20 th century in British Columbia involving formats or titles of interest to children and youth.
  • I’d like to briefly elude to one example I have not included because it did not relate to children and youth directly. I think it demonstrates the grey areas that arise as we struggle with censorship issues. Among the “censorship” issues listed in Censorship in BC is one in which I was involved. In 1991, I chose not to purchase American Psycho by Brett Ellis for the Nelson Municipal Library . This could have been just one more selection decision – the book was not well reviewed and no one had specifically requested it – except that the book was controversial and I was interviewed by the local paper about my decision not to purchase it. Years later, I felt somewhat vindicated in my decision by a study that showed that most purchased copies of the book did not circulate well and were languishing on library shelves. However, this example does raise a significant question as to where selection ends and censorship begins. Was I right or wrong not to purchase the book? Was I playing it safe or spending a small collections budget wisely?
  • Now let’s take a closer look at recent challenges by type of challenge: Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Outrageously Alice . Cause of objection — The library patron said that the book should be shelved in a “mature section” or children should be denied access to the book. Update —The library retained the book in the children’s collection. Vigna, Judith. Black Like Kyra, White Like Me . Cause of objection —The complainant said the story “reinforces negative stereotypes about blacks and positive types about whites.” Update —The book was retained in the library’s collection. Willhoite, Michael. Daddy’s Roommate . Cause of objection —The complainant said that this fictional children’s book, which has a homosexual theme, was “not a proper role model for children.” Update —The complainant did not pursue the challenge, so the book stayed in the library.  
  • BPL - Parent complained that small child could see the sexually suggestive cover of newspaper. Asked for paper to be removed. Paper was moved to a higher shelf but not removed. Excerpt from letter to complainant - “In our collections, for example, there are books and DVDs about many different religions and about atheism, about being lesbian or gay from a variety of perspectives, about animal rights and hunting. Each of these books or DVDs represents a point of view that some may embrace and some may find offensive. In our view, providing these materials is part of what it means to live in the “tolerant” and “plural” society you mention in your attached comment card. Our decision, therefore, is to continue to offer Xtra West as one of our free newspapers in our library. (3 similar complaints in one year) FVRL – see attached notes.
  • BPL - Parent lodged complaint at a branch of Burnaby Public Library. Her 10 yr old son saw sexually explicit images when passing behind two older boys using a public internet station in the adult area of the branch. Parent was not happy that the adult stations were not filtered. Investigations revealed that some privacy screens were missing and some were ineffective. Screens replaced. Chief Librarian responded to parent with the results of our privacy screen investigations and also noted that BPL offers a choice of filtered stations in the children’s area and unfiltered stations in the adult area . She also noted that we use DeepFreeze on all of our computers so that they are reset between logons and accidental viewing of a previous user’s material can’t occur. Parent did not pursue the complaint further. VIRL update – Currently provides a choice of filtered and unfiltered stations in all branches. The “acceptable use” portion of the policy only restricts illegal activities on the library’s computers. Well-written policy. Acceptable use policies – A question for you to consider - how often do we exert our discretionary powers to ask an adult patron in a small branch or library to refrain from viewing inappropriate content on the Internet? Is an acceptable use policy so different? Or is it an infringement on the intellectual freedom of the Internet user?
  • The Walk was endorsed by a variety of groups including: Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign (BIAC) International Solidarity Movement Jews for a Just Peace Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR-UBC) Vancouver & District Labour Council The poster was considered to be too political. VPL's poster policy ( ) excludes, "Political posters for individual political parties or candidates” and also includes in its statement of principle the following: “"Vancouver Public Library will not distribute material that is primarily commercial or political and does not have compensating cultural or community importance.” VPL requested a legal opinion on the poster as a “human rights issue.” The intent of the policy was later revisited by staff and board. By the time all discussion had been concluded, it was too late to reinstate the poster . It was my understanding, however, that it was agreed that the poster should not have been removed.
  • Vancouver Public Library - Assisted suicide presentation - The VPL board decided to deny access to its meeting room for a presentation by Exit International when it was discovered that part of the evening would be devoted to counseling some of those attending about assisted suicide which is still illegal in British Columbia. The Intellectual Freedom Committee of BCLA wrote a letter acknowledging the difficulty of coming to a decision on this topic, expressing regret at the decision that was made, and asking for the legal opinion to be released. The City Librarian responded with the reasons for the decision but did not release the legal opinion.
  • Flaws - Survey did not tie responses to particular library for purposes of fact-checking or filling out incomplete responses. Reasons for and responses to challenges were not always given.
  • It’s not surprising that more smaller public libraries responded as there are more of them - 56% of BC’s 71 public libraries serve populations of less than 10,000.
  • “ Don’t know” is telling but not sure of what – turnover in staff or lack of record-keeping on challenges.
  • Added vampires due to the current craze but interestingly they are still outweighed by Witchcraft.
  • Graphic Novel collection - Library separated into Junior and Teen Zombie Butts from Uranus / Just Disgusting both by Andy Griffiths - Reasons for the complaints were not given in either case but the books were kept on the shelves . One librarians explained that the books were for reluctant boy readers Gr 4-6 and were popular while the other invoked the library’s IF statement. Game Informer magazine - Library recognized that, while the magazine's graphic and text might not suit a child's interests, it was definitely of interest to teens and was shelved in the Teen collection for that reason. P oster of ABCs in the Childrens area - “Immediate response to challenge was to bite tongue to stop laughter. Can't recall exact response to patron but I am sure I mentioned the poster merely reflected what kids find in contemporary life and reading and we try to keep our collection balanced and have something for everyone.”
  • The fact that the responding libraries are nearly evenly divided on the four different approaches reflects the fact that we have not yet found one commonly accepted way of addressing Internet access for minors on our public computers. The option of no filter and no parental permission was not included in my original survey but was so often written in that I have included it in the percentages above. Note that 43% of the respondents indicated that filters were used for children’s computers in their libraries.
  • Interesting that sex and violence once again rank high in parents’ concerns. If I had included chat on the survey, I may well have had a higher number of responses. I admit that I had assumed this was a fading issue – much like the initial resistance by many libraries to allow access to email on public computers – but I can see that it isn’t. Chat may be a greater issue when there are fewer available computers and when children use the computers in the social manner to which they are accustomed – several pre-teen girls gathered around the computer giggling and/or arguing.
  • The first two are examples of an “acceptable use” approach; the second two of our continuing attempts to reinforce with parents that we are not “in loco parentis” and that they must monitor their children’s viewing.
  • These questions were raised directly or indirectly in survey responses and deserve some further discussion – though unfortunately we don’t have time to cover them all here. You will, however, get some tips on how the last issue can be handled in Richard’s presentation. And…
  • You can continue dialogue on these issues by joining the Intellectual Freedom Committee and signing up for its listserv and raising these issues within your libraries and among your colleagues at regional librarian meetings. Though I am by no means an expert on this topic myself, I’d be happy to share knowledge gained from experience or connect you with others if you find yourself struggling with a challenge. My email will be at the end of this presentation. I’ve included links to online resources in the next slide.
  • “ What’s that doing in my library” is the online version of the print brochure you’ll find in the back of the room. Produced by IFC – very helpful when facing a challenge and to educate patrons.
  • Literacies and issues of intellectual freedom

    1. 1. How Librarians Are Coping with New Challenges Literacies and Issues of Intellectual Freedom in the Digital Age S-11 BC Library Conference Saturday, April 24, 2010
    2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Introduction: Janet Mumford, S.D. #42, UBC </li></ul><ul><li>Public Libraries: Deb Thomas, Burnaby Public Library </li></ul><ul><li>School Libraries: Richard Beaudry, S.D. #35, U of A </li></ul><ul><li>Co-sponsored by the Intellectual Freedom Committee and the Young Adult and Children’s Services Section of the BC Library Association </li></ul>
    3. 3. Children, Teens & Intellectual Freedom jpg jpg
    4. 4. <ul><li>“ It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate....In our system, students may not be regarded as closed-circuit recipients of only that which the State chooses to communicate.” </li></ul><ul><li>Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas, 1969, </li></ul><ul><li>in  Tinker v. Des Moines Community School District </li></ul>
    5. 5. Intellectual Freedom, Canadian Library Association <ul><li>“ All persons in Canada have the fundamental right, as embodied in the nation's Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to have access to all expressions of knowledge, creativity and intellectual activity, and to express their thoughts publicly. This right to intellectual freedom, under the law, is essential to the health and development of Canadian society. ” </li></ul>
    6. 6. American Library Association Library Bill of Rights <ul><li>The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas , and that the following basic policies should guide their services. </li></ul><ul><li>I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
    7. 7. American Library Association Library Bill of Rights <ul><li>II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval. </li></ul><ul><li>III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment. </li></ul><ul><li>IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas . (e.g. Web 2.0 technologies) </li></ul>
    8. 8. Canada: Student’s Bill of Information Rights <ul><li>“ We believe that all students should have the right to: access a wide range of print, non-print and electronic learning resources at an appropriate level; explore materials expressing a variety of opinions and perspectives; and freely choose reading, viewing and listening materials for recreational and study purposes.” </li></ul><ul><li>Association for Teacher-Librarianship in Canada and the Canadian School Library Association, 1995 </li></ul>
    9. 9. ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee--ALSC & YALSA <ul><li>Association of Library Services to Children (ALSC) </li></ul><ul><li>Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) </li></ul><ul><li>Each association has 8 representatives that sit on the Intellectual Freedom Committee of the American Library Association </li></ul><ul><li>In sum, Intellectual Freedom is of great concern to librarians who serve children and teens </li></ul>
    10. 10. Intellectual Freedom includes Privacy <ul><li>“ The right to be left alone--the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by a free people.” </li></ul><ul><li>USA Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, Olmstead v. U.S. , 277 U.S. 438 (1928) </li></ul>
    11. 11. Rationale <ul><li>Why is Intellectual Freedom essential for supporting Literacy in a Digital World? </li></ul><ul><li>The New London Group: </li></ul><ul><li>Literacy: &quot;one could say that its fundamental purpose is to ensure that all students benefit from learning in ways that allow them to participate fully in public, community, and economic life.&quot; (1996) </li></ul><ul><li> riesland.htm </li></ul>
    12. 12. New London Group (1996) Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures <ul><li>New Literacies: </li></ul><ul><li>“ the multiplicity of communications channels and increasing cultural and linguistic diversity in the world today call for a much broader view of literacy than portrayed by traditional language-based approaches. </li></ul><ul><li>Multiliteracies,…overcomes the limitations of traditional approaches by emphasizing how negotiating the multiple linguistic and cultural differences in our society is central to the pragmatics of the working, civic, and private lives of students.” </li></ul>
    13. 13. James P. Gee: What Video Games Teach Us About Literacy <ul><li>Literacy--semiotic domains . “any set of practices that recruits one or more modalities (e.g., oral or written language, images, equations, symbols, sounds, gestures, graphs, artifacts, etc.) to communicate distinctive types of meanings” </li></ul><ul><li>“ because new literacies are multiple and attached to social and cultural practices ,…people need to (1) be literate in many different semiotic domains , and (2) be able to become literate in other *new* semiotic domains throughout their lives ” </li></ul>
    14. 14. Literacies of the Digital Age
    15. 15. Literacies of the Digital Age
    16. 16. Sonia Livingstone, PhD <ul><li>Definition: “Media literacy is the ability to access, analyse, evaluate and create messages across a variety of contexts.” (2003) </li></ul> (2009)
    17. 17. Critical Multicultural Information Literacy <ul><li>Communication Across Cultures </li></ul><ul><li>“ Through critical multicultural information literacy both users and librarians can look critically at the culture that has shaped them and, furthermore, librarians can teach information literacy as critical engagement with the world around them which influences both the acts of knowing and learning .” </li></ul><ul><li>Dr. Clara M. Chu 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>Chair and Professor, UN Greensboro, LIS School </li></ul>
    18. 18. Sum: New Literacies Connect all Aspects of Young People’s Lives <ul><li>Home, Community, School, etc </li></ul>
    19. 19. How Public Librarians Are Coping with New (and Old) Challenges Literacies and Issues of Intellectual Freedom in the Digital Age
    20. 20. Introduction
    21. 21. New literacies, Intellectual Freedom & Youth <ul><li>Audio Media – Music CD, MP3, Spoken Word </li></ul><ul><li>Visual Media – Comic books, graphic novels, video, DVD, E-books </li></ul><ul><li>Public computers – Word processing, games, Internet... </li></ul>
    22. 22. The Internet <ul><li>“ The Internet has been the most fundamental change during my life- time and for hundreds of years.” – Rupert Murdoch </li></ul><ul><li>Common concerns: </li></ul><ul><li>Children using unfiltered public computers </li></ul><ul><li>Children playing violent games </li></ul><ul><li>Children accessing sexual images or information </li></ul><ul><li>Children accidently seeing content viewed by older patrons </li></ul><ul><li>Children encountering online predators </li></ul><ul><li>Others? </li></ul><ul><li>“ The ‘Net is a waste of time, and that’s exactly what’s right about it.” – William Gibson </li></ul>
    23. 23. Common Types of Challenges in Public Libraries & Examples <ul><li>Collection content - books, DVDs, graphic novels, and so on </li></ul><ul><li>Free materials </li></ul><ul><li>Internet content </li></ul><ul><li>Use of library spaces </li></ul><ul><li>Posting on bulletin boards </li></ul>Attempts at censorship have been around for a long time…
    24. 24. Brief history of BC Censorship 1950-1979 <ul><li>In 1954, the Junior Chamber of Commerce asked the Victoria Public Library to serve as a depot for crime comics with the intent of publicly burning them in order to keep them out of circulation.  The library refused to participate in their plan.  [The Vancouver Sun 27 November 1954] </li></ul><ul><li>Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman.  In 1964, there was a request that this book be removed from Vancouver Public Library shelves.  The library moved it to a restricted area, available upon request. [Canadian Compromise for Little Black Sambo, The Province 21 June 1966, p. 21] </li></ul><ul><li>Uncle Remus by Joel Chandler Harris.  In March 1964, the BC Association for the Advancement of Coloured People asked for this book's removal from the Abbotsford school libraries, as it was considered &quot;offensive to Negroes&quot;; the request was refused.  [Remus Book Censorship Bid Shelved, The Province 20 March 1964, p. 25] </li></ul><ul><li>From Censorship in British Columbia: A History </li></ul>
    25. 25. Brief history of BC Censorship 1980-2000 <ul><li>The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Robin Muller.  In February 1987, protestors demonstrated outside the New Westminster Public Library during Muller’s talk to elementary students. They objected to the witchcraft and black magic in the book.  He chose another book to talk about.  [Foe of Occult Raps Talk by Writer, The Vancouver Sun 20 February 1987, p. C5] </li></ul><ul><li>The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis.  Challenged in 1993 at the Port Coquitlam Public Library, because it &quot;puts animals down.&quot; [Protecting the Right to Read, Coquitlam Now 2 March 1994] </li></ul><ul><li>Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz. In 1994, Coquitlam library's children's librarian Deborah Duncan stated that Scary Stories &quot;is always getting challenged&quot; because it talks about the occult.&quot;  [Protecting the Right to Read, Coquitlam Now 2 March 1994]  </li></ul><ul><li>From Censorship in British Columbia: A History </li></ul>
    26. 26. Challenge Examples by type <ul><li>Collection content </li></ul><ul><li>Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Outrageously Alice . ( 2000) </li></ul><ul><li>A patron of the Toronto Public Library complained about this novel for young readers about a 13-year-old girl growing up and learning about sex. </li></ul><ul><li>Vigna, Judith. Black Like Kyra, White Like Me . ( 2000) </li></ul><ul><li>A patron of the Toronto Public Library complained about this children’s picture book about a black family moving into an all-white neighbourhood and encountering racial prejudice. </li></ul><ul><li>Willhoite, Michael. Daddy’s Roommate . (2005) </li></ul><ul><li>During Freedom to Read Week, the Lethbridge Public Library displayed books that had been challenged in North America. The inclusion of Daddy’s Roommate in the display prompted one library patron to request the removal of the book from the library </li></ul><ul><li>Examples from </li></ul>
    27. 27. Challenge Examples by type <ul><li>Free materials </li></ul><ul><li>Xtra West </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Burnaby Public Library - request by parent to remove from free materials because of suggestive images on cover. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fraser Valley Regional Library – complaint that the newspaper contained sexually explicit ads and could corrupt children if they had access to it. </li></ul></ul>
    28. 28. Challenge Examples by type <ul><li>Internet Content </li></ul><ul><li>Burnaby Public Library – Parent complained because her child viewed inappropriate material accidentally by walking behind a two older boys on a public Internet station. </li></ul><ul><li>Vancouver Island Regional Library adopted an acceptable use policy in 2001 stating that viewing suggestive material is unacceptable on the library’s Internet stations. Patrons found violating the policy would be banned for the week. [ Library Board Adopts its Porn Policy, Cowichan Pictoral 11 April 2001; Policy Keeps Porn Out, Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle 10 April 2001] Current policy on </li></ul>
    29. 29. Challenge Examples by type <ul><li>Posting on Bulletin Boards </li></ul><ul><li>Vancouver Public Library – Complaints received about a Walk for Palestine poster. Manager asked for the poster to be removed from branch bulletin boards. Staff questioned the decision. Intent of policy revisited by Board. </li></ul>
    30. 30. Challenge Examples <ul><li>Use of Library Spaces </li></ul><ul><li>Vancouver Public Library –Exit International denied use of meeting room after legal counsel advised that portions of the presentation were in violation of Section 241 of the Criminal Code. </li></ul>
    31. 31. Survey of BC Public Libraries <ul><li>Focused on issues for children and teens </li></ul><ul><li>Conducted through Director’s and Children’s librarians listserves in BC </li></ul><ul><li>From January 25 to February 28, 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>42 respondents </li></ul><ul><li>Flaws in methodology </li></ul>
    32. 32. Survey Results Population Served
    33. 33. Survey Results Challenges in last 5 yrs <ul><li>To children’s or teen materials: </li></ul><ul><li>Yes 23.8% </li></ul><ul><li>No 61.9% </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t know 14.3% </li></ul>
    34. 34. Survey Results Topics most likely to be challenged
    35. 35. Survey Results Examples of items challenged Graphic Novel collection - content not suitable for children. Zombie Butts from Uranus / Just Disgusting by Andy Griffiths - 2 responses Game Informer magazine - parent thought “sexually loaded graphics” inappropriate for 10 yr old son P oster of ABCs in the Childrens area - objection to W for Witch and Y for Yoga
    36. 36. Survey Results Other books challenged <ul><li>T he Stupids Take Off by Harry Allard and James Marshall </li></ul><ul><li>King Stork by Howard Pyle </li></ul><ul><li>Deadline by Chris Crutcher </li></ul><ul><li>Falling by Christopher Pike </li></ul><ul><li>Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson </li></ul><ul><li>Left Behind: A graphic novel of the Earth’s last days </li></ul><ul><li>Catch That Cat by Monika Beisner </li></ul><ul><li>The Best of Shel Silverstein </li></ul><ul><li>Adventures of TinTin: Cigars of the Pharaoh by Herge </li></ul>
    37. 37. Survey Results Internet Issues: Filtering <ul><li>Do you offer Internet access to children 14 and under? </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Yes, with parental permission only 35.8% </li></ul><ul><li> Yes, on filtered stations only 23.0% </li></ul><ul><li> Yes, choice of filtered/unfiltered stations 20.5% </li></ul><ul><li>Yes, no filter and no parental permission 17.9% </li></ul><ul><li> No 2.5% </li></ul>
    38. 38. Survey Results Internet Issues: Complaints <ul><li>Children viewing inappropriate material on public Internet stations 62.5% </li></ul><ul><li>Children accidentally seeing inappropriate material being viewed on public Internet stations 56.3% </li></ul><ul><li>Children playing violent games on public Internet stations 31.3% </li></ul><ul><li>  Other – children & youth using Chat </li></ul>
    39. 39. Survey Results Internet Issues: Responses <ul><li>Ask children using computers in children’s area not to play violent games. Can play on adult stations. </li></ul><ul><li>If a patron complains about the content another patron is watching, ask them to exit the site and reinforce the need to use discretion on public computers. </li></ul><ul><li>Remind parents that it is the parent’s responsibility to monitor their child’s Internet use. </li></ul><ul><li>Suggest to parents that they should talk to their children about Internet safety and set limits on what they view. </li></ul>
    40. 40. Survey Results Questions raised <ul><li>How do you respond to complaints about free materials such as Xtra West? </li></ul><ul><li>At what age can a child be granted privacy in their library use? </li></ul><ul><li>Should parental permission be required for a child’s library card? </li></ul><ul><li>Should libraries go beyond the official rating system to protect children from inappropriate material in DVDs? </li></ul><ul><li>How do you respond to pressure from evangelical Christians to remove materials from the library? </li></ul>
    41. 41. In summary... <ul><li>Where can I find resources when I face a challenge? </li></ul><ul><li>Where can I discuss intellectual freedom issues? </li></ul>
    42. 42. Resources for further information <ul><li>Book & Periodical Council’s </li></ul><ul><li>BCLA Intellectual Freedom Committee (Join the listserv!) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What’s that doing in my library? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Censorship in British Columbia: A history </li></ul></ul><ul><li>ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom </li></ul><ul><ul><li>100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of the Decade (2000-2009) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ALA’s Banned Books Week </li></ul></ul><ul><li>CLA Advisory Committee on Intellectual Freedom </li></ul>
    43. 43. Intellectual Freedom Courses & Contacts <ul><li>Dr. Toni Samek, University of Alberta </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>WISE, Web-based Information Science Education, Online Courses (selection varies) </li></ul><ul><li>Intellectual Freedom and Library Services for Youth, </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Online -developed by Loretta Gaffney, GSLIS/University of Illinois </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Miriam Moses, Burnaby Public Library & Micheal Vonn , B.C. Civil Liberties Association </li></ul><ul><ul><li>SLAIS, UBC, in person course (has been offered every 2 years) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
    44. 44. Challenges in BC School Libraries: looking at two fronts in the battle Literacies and Issues of Intellectual Freedom in the Digital Age
    45. 45. Intellectual Freedom in BC Schools <ul><li>Intellectual Freedom issues in BC School Libraries have to contend with two fronts: </li></ul><ul><li>Outside challenges by parents and specific groups </li></ul><ul><li>Challenges from within from the school boards, district administration, school administrators, or teachers. </li></ul>
    46. 46. Types of Challenges in school libraries <ul><li>Book leveling or recommendations </li></ul><ul><li>Content </li></ul><ul><li>Curriculum </li></ul><ul><li>Genres </li></ul>
    47. 47. Book Leveling <ul><li>Reviews of children’s books almost always include age guidance, such as for ages 6–8, 9–12, 12 up, or 14 up. It’s important that librarians use these recommendations judicially. </li></ul><ul><li>One of the roles of a librarian is to offer youngsters a wide range of reading materials—without placing any restrictions on them. </li></ul><ul><li>Many school districts recommended strict guidelines based on book leveling or publisher recommendations, especially in elementary and middle schools. </li></ul>
    48. 48. Book Leveling and School Library Collections <ul><li>At their April 2009 AGM, the BCTLA voted on a position statement looking concerning book leveling and library collections in BC school libraries. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>“ The practice of leveling books, used to support guided reading instruction in classrooms, is not consistent with the values of teacher‐librarians and should not be applied in part or in whole to school library collections.” </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>BCTLA 2009 </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    49. 49. Content <ul><li>A more contentious issue in BC libraries, and one that we have dealt with recently, is removing books from collections based on specific content such as magic, horror, lust. </li></ul><ul><li>There have been attempts to curtail copies of books such as the Harry Potter and New Moon series because of the magic and vampire story lines. While the books may not be used as teaching materials, they have been available in the school libraries. </li></ul><ul><li>Our recent challenge included books like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series and the Shopaholic series. </li></ul>
    50. 50. Curriculum <ul><li>One of the most important court cases pertaining to school libraries in Canada occurred within the Surrey School District. </li></ul><ul><li>One Dad Two Dads Brown Dads Blue Dads by Johnny Valentine, Asha's Mums by Rosamund Elwin and Michel Paulse, and Belinda's Bouquet by Leslea Newman and Michael Willhoite.  In January of 1997, James Chamberlain, an elementary school teacher at Latimer Road Elementary School in Surrey, submitted the three books for Board approval for use in his grade one class. Chamberlain had used the books in his previous classes.  </li></ul>
    51. 51. Chamberlain v. Surrey District School Board No. 36, [2002] 4 S.C.R. 710, 2002 SCC 86 <ul><li>On December 21, 2002 the Supreme Court ruled that the ban on books about gay and lesbian parents has no place in a public school system that claims to promote diversity and tolerance. </li></ul><ul><li>Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote in the 7-2 ruling that &quot;parental views, however important, cannot override the imperative placed upon the British Columbia public schools to mirror diversity of the community and teach tolerance and understanding of difference.” </li></ul><ul><li>The Chief Justice repeatedly stressed the importance for a secular school board to avoid caving in to pressure from religious parents to the point of excluding the values of other members of the community. </li></ul>
    52. 52. Chamberlain v. Surrey District School Board No. 36, [2002] 4 S.C.R. 710, 2002 SCC 86 <ul><li>Chief Justice Beverly McLachin dismissed the board's concerns that children would be confused or misled by classroom information about same-sex parents. </li></ul><ul><li>She pointed out that “Tolerance is always age-appropriate, children cannot learn unless they are exposed to views that differ from those they are taught at home.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>The legal fees ended up costing Surrey taxpayers over $1,200,000. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
    53. 53. Genres <ul><li>In a recent issue that involved a teacher librarian in BC, a small group of concerned parents presented a list of book genres that they wished removed from the school library. </li></ul><ul><li>These included art books, photography books (that would include nudes), dark, horror or evil books. And books that would include recurring swearing and explicit sexual content. </li></ul>
    54. 54. Genres <ul><li>The dilemma for the teacher librarian in BC schools is making an assessment based on a specific group of parents requests versus the entire population of the school. </li></ul><ul><li>The teacher librarian, with the assistance of the local teacher’s union and the support of the BCLA, the BCTLA, and the CLA has kept the collection in place. </li></ul>
    55. 55. Censorship in BC school libraries <ul><li>Teacher-librarians must understand the legal ramifications of censorship by reviewing school selection policies in light of the recent challenges to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Courts continue to rule that schools are not exempt from upholding students’ human rights under the charter. These rights include the freedom to information and the freedom to read. </li></ul>
    56. 56. Censorship from within <ul><li>In 2009, a teacher librarian in B.C. filed a human rights complaint against another teacher, a principal and the board of education based on her religious beliefs. </li></ul><ul><li>There were issues about the handling of books about gay and lesbians in the school library. </li></ul><ul><li>The teacher librarian and a teacher who was sponsor on the gay-straight alliance club clashed on several issues. </li></ul><ul><li>The Human Rights Tribunal determined that the teacher librarian’s case was not proven and dismissed it. </li></ul>
    57. 57. Important points that teacher-librarians need to take into account, if they perceive that censorship issues have arisen in their libraries <ul><li>Local policies can assist teachers, parents, and administrators as a first step in looking at challenging materials in a school library. Here is a local example from my school district. </li></ul><ul><li>“ SD 35 Policy No. 5062—Date Approved: December 2, 1973—Date Amended: May 15, 2001 </li></ul><ul><li>That the final decision for controversial reading, listening or viewing matter shall rest with the Board after careful examination and discussion of the reading, listening or viewing matter with school officials or anyone else the Board may wish to involve. </li></ul><ul><li>That no parent or group of parents has the right to determine the reading, listening or viewing matter for students other than their own children.” </li></ul>
    58. 58. The BC School Act <ul><li>The BC School Act also offers instructions for challenges </li></ul><ul><li>Section 76 </li></ul><ul><li>All schools and Provincial schools must be conducted on strictly secular and non-sectarian principles. </li></ul><ul><li>The highest morality must be inculcated, but no religious dogma or creed is to be taught in a school or Provincial school. </li></ul>
    59. 59. The BC Civil Liberties Union (BCCLU) <ul><li>“ In our Association’s view, there must be sufficient evidence of significant opposition to the material before the review process is commenced. For example, evidence of widespread concern sufficient to invoke the process could be presented in a petition. It should not be enough for the subjective views of one person to invoke an expensive and time-consuming process (as was the situation in this case—(another case in BC)). Evidence of communal concern is, of course, not enough in itself to prohibit any particular material since the views of the majority should not automatically determine access to ideas and information, even for youth.” </li></ul>
    60. 60. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Canada in 1990 <ul><li>“ It is the responsibility of libraries to guarantee and facilitate access to all expressions of knowledge and intellectual activity, including those which some elements of society may consider to be unconventional, unpopular or unacceptable… </li></ul><ul><li>Libraries should resist all efforts to limit the exercise of these responsibilities while recognizing the right of criticism by individuals and groups.” </li></ul>
    61. 61. The Canadian Library Association (CLA) Statement on Intellectual Freedom <ul><li>“ All persons in Canada have the fundamental right, as embodied in the nation's Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to have access to all expressions of knowledge, creativity and intellectual activity, and to express their thoughts publicly. This right to intellectual freedom, under the law, is essential to the health and development of Canadian society.” </li></ul>
    62. 62. How can school districts in BC remain vigilant against censorship issues? <ul><li>1. Teacher autonomy. Before parents can enter a school library and remove a book, they must go through a process based on district policies. School administrators need to let parents know that their district has a policy in place and that it needs to be followed. As well, administrators and district managements need to understand when parents are putting pressure on teacher-librarians to simply remove books, and assist the teacher-librarian in explaining the policies in place. </li></ul>
    63. 63. How can school districts in BC remain vigilant against censorship issues? <ul><li>2. Each school district must have a “Request for Reconsideration” document in place (updated regularly) that permits parents to question if a book should be in the library and lets the district decide whether it should be removed. If no document or updated version is in place then one should be adopted as soon as possible </li></ul>
    64. 64. How can school districts in BC remain vigilant against censorship issues? <ul><li>3. A selection policy for school libraries should be in place. A group consisting of members of the local teacher-librarians, administrators, and, possibly, board management should get together and decide on such a policy to suit all schools in the district. </li></ul>
    65. 65. Contact us: <ul><li>Janet Mumford </li></ul><ul><li>jmum (at) </li></ul><ul><li>Deb Thomas </li></ul><ul><li>deb.thomas (at) </li></ul><ul><li>Richard Beaudry </li></ul><ul><li>rbeaudry (at) </li></ul>
    66. 66. Thank you! To find our presentation online, go to