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Censorship in Libraries
Definition of Censorship 
to examine in order to suppress or delete 
anything considered objectionable 
Source:Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate 
Dictionary
History of Censorship 
The word censor comes from the Office of the Censor 
created in Rome in 443 BC. The Censor’s job was to 
conduct the statistical census of the citizenry and 
protect their morals.
Censorship in Libraries 
Usually an attempt to remove material 
from the collection 
Some libraries have an official 
“challenge” policy 
Moline Public Library
Censorship in Libraries 
“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. ” 
American Library Association
American Library Association 
(ALA) 
Founded in 1876 
The largest library association in the 
world 
“The American Library Association provides leadership 
for the development, promotion, and improvement of 
library and information services and the profession of 
librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure 
access to information for all.” 
www.ala.org
Library Censorship Process 
Library user discovers material in the 
library that they find objectionable 
The user alerts library staff about the 
materials and often assumes staff are 
not aware of the material and will agree 
to remove it.
Library Censorship Process 
After discovering the library does not 
intend to remove it, patron seeks more 
official routes: 
 Filling out a Challenge Form 
 Writing a letter of challenge to the library 
director/administration 
 Speaking at a Library Board Meeting
Library Censorship Process 
Unofficial Routes 
 Contacting the local media 
 Organizing an ad hoc group 
 Staging a protest 
 Theft or destruction of the material
Library Censorship Process 
A member of the Dorchester District 2 school board has borrowed three copies of 
Catcher in the Rye from two Summerville, South Carolina-area high schools and 
says he intends to pay for the books rather than return them. Anticipating that his 
fellow board members will oppose his request to have the title banned from school 
libraries , Howard Bagwell told the September 7 Myrtle Beach Sun News, "I 
understand they have their own opinions, and that is OK, but I want everyone to know 
how I feel." 
Bagwell's challenge is the second one in a decade that he has brought against the 
classic coming-of-age novel by J. D. Salinger. A member of the board for 20 years, 
Bagwell saw his 1993 request defeated on appeal to the board by 6-1. 
"It is a filthy, filthy book," Bagwell told the newspaper. "It has 269 some odd pages or 
so, and if you took out all the [profanity], the sarcasm, the mockery of old people, the 
mockery of women and decent people, you would get to read about 10 minutes' 
worth." 
American Libraries, Sep. 10, 2001
Library Censorship Process 
Library will consider complaint and 
review material in question 
Materials will be compared to Materials 
Selection Policy 
 Guidelines by which libraries choose 
materials for their collection 
 Fauquier County Library
Library Censorship Process 
Materials are seldom removed through 
this process because materials have 
already met selection policy standards 
Materials are usually removed for 
political purposes
Internet 
An uncontrolled resource 
Internet Filtering Software 
 Also called Blocking Software, Censorware 
and Internet Content Management 
Software
Internet Filtering Software 
Method of filtering 
 restrict access to Internet content, based on an internal 
database of the product, or; 
 restrict access to Internet content through a database 
maintained external to the product itself, or; 
 restrict access to Internet content by certain ratings 
assigned to those sites by a third party (ICRA), or; 
 restrict access to Internet content by scanning text, 
based on a keyword or phrase or text string, or; 
 restrict access to Internet content by scanning pixels, 
based on color or tone, or; 
 restrict access to Internet content based on the source of 
the information. 
American Library Association
Internet Filtering Software 
Non-local control 
 Pre-defined lists are often made by 
software companies 
 Many companies do not release their lists 
of blocked sites or their criteria for blocking 
Subjective & Discriminatory 
 Companies use advisory groups to select 
sites to filter and makeup of the group can 
affect what’s filtered
Internet Filtering Software 
ALA Objections 
 Violates 1st Amendment 
 Library use of blocking/filtering software creates 
an implied contract. 
 Lack of openness on blocking criteria. 
 Most filtering software was designed for parents at 
home and not institutions.
Internet Filtering Software - 
Problems 
Underblocking 
 Failing to block sites because the software 
cannot analyze it 
Overblocking 
 Blocking sites that are not pornographic by 
accident
Internet Filtering Software - 
Problems 
Underblocking 
 Consumer Reports: 
 All but one filter allowed 20% of objectionable 
material through. 
Overblocking 
 Online Policy Group: 
 Internet filtering software will block tens of 
thousands of web pages inappropriately.
Overblocking 
Breast Cancer 
Superbowl XXX 
Anne Sexton 
www.hatewatch.org
Overblocking – 
Kaiser Foundation Study 
•Pornographic Sites Blocked 
•87% at Least restrictive 
•91% at Most restrictive 
•Overblocking: 22.6% 
•Underblocking: 4%.
Government Action 
CIPA - Children’s Internet Protection Act 
 Requires libraries that receive federal discounts 
for Internet access to put filtering software on 
Internet accessible computers or lose that funding 
 Became law in December, 2000. 
 Challenged in Federal Court by the ACLU, ALA 
and others 
 Federal appeals court ruled in favor of plaintiffs 
(ALA, ACLU) 
 Supreme Court reversed the lower court on June 
23, 2003
ALA Library Bill of Rights 
The American Library Association affirms that all 
libraries are forums for information and ideas, and 
that the following basic policies should guide their 
services. 
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. 
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.
ALA Library Bill of Rights 
III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the 
fulfillment of their responsibility to provide 
information and enlightenment. 
IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and 
groups concerned with resisting abridgment of 
free expression and free access to ideas. 
V. A person’s right to use a library should not be 
denied or abridged because of origin, age, 
background, or views. 
VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting 
rooms available to the public they serve should 
make such facilities available on an equitable 
basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of 
individuals or groups requesting their use.
Challenged Books 
10 Most Frequently Challanged Book of 2012 
100 Most Banned/Challanged Books: 2000-2009
Challenged Books (2000 – 2009) 
Reason for Challenge
Challenged Books (2000 – 2009) 
Initiator of Challenge
Challenged Books (2000 – 2009) 
Institution Challenged

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Library Censorship

  • 2. Definition of Censorship to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable Source:Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary
  • 3. History of Censorship The word censor comes from the Office of the Censor created in Rome in 443 BC. The Censor’s job was to conduct the statistical census of the citizenry and protect their morals.
  • 4. Censorship in Libraries Usually an attempt to remove material from the collection Some libraries have an official “challenge” policy Moline Public Library
  • 5. Censorship in Libraries “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. ” American Library Association
  • 6. American Library Association (ALA) Founded in 1876 The largest library association in the world “The American Library Association provides leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.” www.ala.org
  • 7. Library Censorship Process Library user discovers material in the library that they find objectionable The user alerts library staff about the materials and often assumes staff are not aware of the material and will agree to remove it.
  • 8. Library Censorship Process After discovering the library does not intend to remove it, patron seeks more official routes:  Filling out a Challenge Form  Writing a letter of challenge to the library director/administration  Speaking at a Library Board Meeting
  • 9. Library Censorship Process Unofficial Routes  Contacting the local media  Organizing an ad hoc group  Staging a protest  Theft or destruction of the material
  • 10. Library Censorship Process A member of the Dorchester District 2 school board has borrowed three copies of Catcher in the Rye from two Summerville, South Carolina-area high schools and says he intends to pay for the books rather than return them. Anticipating that his fellow board members will oppose his request to have the title banned from school libraries , Howard Bagwell told the September 7 Myrtle Beach Sun News, "I understand they have their own opinions, and that is OK, but I want everyone to know how I feel." Bagwell's challenge is the second one in a decade that he has brought against the classic coming-of-age novel by J. D. Salinger. A member of the board for 20 years, Bagwell saw his 1993 request defeated on appeal to the board by 6-1. "It is a filthy, filthy book," Bagwell told the newspaper. "It has 269 some odd pages or so, and if you took out all the [profanity], the sarcasm, the mockery of old people, the mockery of women and decent people, you would get to read about 10 minutes' worth." American Libraries, Sep. 10, 2001
  • 11. Library Censorship Process Library will consider complaint and review material in question Materials will be compared to Materials Selection Policy  Guidelines by which libraries choose materials for their collection  Fauquier County Library
  • 12. Library Censorship Process Materials are seldom removed through this process because materials have already met selection policy standards Materials are usually removed for political purposes
  • 13. Internet An uncontrolled resource Internet Filtering Software  Also called Blocking Software, Censorware and Internet Content Management Software
  • 14. Internet Filtering Software Method of filtering  restrict access to Internet content, based on an internal database of the product, or;  restrict access to Internet content through a database maintained external to the product itself, or;  restrict access to Internet content by certain ratings assigned to those sites by a third party (ICRA), or;  restrict access to Internet content by scanning text, based on a keyword or phrase or text string, or;  restrict access to Internet content by scanning pixels, based on color or tone, or;  restrict access to Internet content based on the source of the information. American Library Association
  • 15. Internet Filtering Software Non-local control  Pre-defined lists are often made by software companies  Many companies do not release their lists of blocked sites or their criteria for blocking Subjective & Discriminatory  Companies use advisory groups to select sites to filter and makeup of the group can affect what’s filtered
  • 16. Internet Filtering Software ALA Objections  Violates 1st Amendment  Library use of blocking/filtering software creates an implied contract.  Lack of openness on blocking criteria.  Most filtering software was designed for parents at home and not institutions.
  • 17. Internet Filtering Software - Problems Underblocking  Failing to block sites because the software cannot analyze it Overblocking  Blocking sites that are not pornographic by accident
  • 18. Internet Filtering Software - Problems Underblocking  Consumer Reports:  All but one filter allowed 20% of objectionable material through. Overblocking  Online Policy Group:  Internet filtering software will block tens of thousands of web pages inappropriately.
  • 19. Overblocking Breast Cancer Superbowl XXX Anne Sexton www.hatewatch.org
  • 20. Overblocking – Kaiser Foundation Study •Pornographic Sites Blocked •87% at Least restrictive •91% at Most restrictive •Overblocking: 22.6% •Underblocking: 4%.
  • 21. Government Action CIPA - Children’s Internet Protection Act  Requires libraries that receive federal discounts for Internet access to put filtering software on Internet accessible computers or lose that funding  Became law in December, 2000.  Challenged in Federal Court by the ACLU, ALA and others  Federal appeals court ruled in favor of plaintiffs (ALA, ACLU)  Supreme Court reversed the lower court on June 23, 2003
  • 22. ALA Library Bill of Rights The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services. 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. 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.
  • 23. ALA Library Bill of Rights III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment. IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas. V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views. VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.
  • 24. Challenged Books 10 Most Frequently Challanged Book of 2012 100 Most Banned/Challanged Books: 2000-2009
  • 25. Challenged Books (2000 – 2009) Reason for Challenge
  • 26. Challenged Books (2000 – 2009) Initiator of Challenge
  • 27. Challenged Books (2000 – 2009) Institution Challenged

Editor's Notes

  1. Moline, IL
  2. Link is to Starr Library in Rhinebeck, NY
  3. http://www.ala.org/Template.cfm?Section=IF_Resolutions&Template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=13090
  4. http://www.ala.org/Template.cfm?Section=IF_Resolutions&Template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=13090-----------with parents that their children will not be able to access material on the Internet that they do not wish their children to read or view.
  5. Image is percent of health-related sites blocked.