Monday, February 16, 2009


Librarians claim to hate the idea of banned books. The ALA even promotes a yearly "Banned Books Week" that celebrates our freedom to read whatever we like. Libraries set out all the books in their collection that have ever been banned, proudly displaying their open mindedness to the community, inviting us all to be rebellious free thinkers.

But there is a subtle form of censorship in libraries. In the same way that the winners always write history, it is the librarians that make up the collection. They are the ones who ultimately decide what knowledge is readily available.

For example, if you go back in the stacks at the library where I work and browse the 900s - 973.931, to be exact - you'd think that conservative writers didn't produce much of anything during the last eight years.


dr mac said...

What happened to the "Fairness Doctrine" ?

Oh, I see.

Kevin Budig said...

Well now. Having conservative writers books on the shelves just wouldn't be permissible as "someone" may read them and begin to ask questions of the libtards policies and goals. People may begin to think for themselves!! OMG!! Libtards cannot allow that and the "Fairness Doctrine!!" Come now! That only applies one way!! Certainly not against the libtards!!

Anonymous said...

Posting as an anonymous coward for now.

I suspect that we should go to our local library and request scholarly books on the second amendment and liberty.

When they say- we don't have that it's worth a polite question.

Perhaps Breda could enlighten us on how to politely interact with librarians to see more of the content we would like to see that we are already in most cases paying for.

I suspect most right wing nut jobs (myself included) buy books and don't use the library as much as we should.

I am certainly guilty of this- but every book we borrow instead of buy gives us more money for guns and ammo.

See, going to the library is a patriotic duty- Q.E.D.

Sevesteen said...

I'd think they would at least cover that category from the standpoint of "those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it"

You can deal with individual cases, but in the big picture it is essentially an insoluble problem--You can't have one of each book, or even one book for each topic. Somebody will be making these decisions, and if you do have a fairness doctrine, you'll have agitators claiming that Lyndon Larue is of equal importance as Lyndon Johnson.

Jeffrey Quick said...

Ultimately, the Collection Problem is insoluble. No matter how objective your collection criteria are, at some point personal knowledge (which implies personal taste) enters into it. And I regret to say that our profession is generally pretty pink. What we need are more conservative librarians. (Ask Scott Savage how well that worked out for him.)

MadRocketScientist said...

When my wife (who is a librarian) does collection development, she follows the rule that if at least one quarter of the books you buy do not offend you mightily to your core, you are doing it wrong.

fast richard said...

My first "favorite" book was "Musket to M14" by C.B.Colby. I picked up a used copy last fall when the lefties were worried that small town mayors might ban books. I haven't found anything equivalent in the local library childrens section. The closest I found was a book about the history of military weapons that had a whole chapter about how evil guns are.

Do any of the children's libraries around your area have any books about guns, with detailed pictures and simple explanations geared to 8-12 year olds?

Anonymous said...

I've never seen one of those displays that included the Bible, which I would presume is probably a frequently banned book.

SpeakDog said...

Our library has an online request form, where you can ask for a book that isn't currently in the collection.

The librarians used to be really nice to me. I checked out several books on a weekly basis.

Then I checked out an Ann Coulter book. Our relationship has never been the same. They are openly hostile to me now.

Chris M said...

I figured that part of the solution is to donate books. I used to have two copies of the 1982 U.S. Senate Subcommittee's report on the 2nd Amendment until I donated one to the local library. I also donated a copy of John Ross's book, "Unintended Consequences." That book seems to be checked out on a pretty regular basis. If I can find my copy of Bill Reilly's book I guess I should donate it as well.

Anonymous said...

A friend works at a major state university libary and knows the people in charge of accepting or rejecting new books for their collection.

During this last election every book that was pro conservative or anti liberal (or anti Obama etc.) was rejected and sent back. when asked why, the person said that even though it will cost money if someone asks for it and they have to special order it (instead of getting it free), it was worth it as "...those sorts of books were trash."

Asked if she had read them, she said she did not need to.

My friend is liberal and was most uncomfortable with this form of censorship....not that anything was done of course.

homebru said...

I'm a 629.31 man, myself.

Smokey Behr said...

I'm rather partial to 799.12, 799.31, and 363.23 myself.

I found only a couple of Conservative writers under the 973.931 section. Most of the books were either generic, or were by the Bush-hating Left wing-nuts like Al Franken.

Lil said...

Maybe I'm a weirdo, but I relish diving into books that oppose my opinions, faith, or worldview. If what I believe can be changed based on something I read, it probably should be changed -- and if what I believe won't be changed by something I read, it makes it that much more meaningful.

And hey, some books are just great for the sheer comedic relief.

Firehand said...

One nice thing about Oklahoma City, there's a 'suggest a book for purchase' link on the library site, and they don't seem to have any problem getting things by people like Colter, and titles like 'Liberal Fascism'.