Monday, January 10, 2005

Censorship or Selection

Apparently the Jackson-George Regional Library is taking some flack for its decision not to purchase the book America (The Book) by Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show. Critics always seem to call it "censorship" even if it is matter of selection. Libraries don't have the funds to purchase every book that patrons want. Their decision not to purchase the book is probably a wise stewardship of funds. They probably know their own patrons well and know that many of them would find the mentioned photo, particularly in its satirical setting highly offensive. The library would have met opposition either way. Those who want the book can always purchase the book or request it through interlibrary loan. It is a little harder to deal with it once it is in the collection (not to mention all the staff time and processing costs it would take to add and then deselect it from the collection following what was sure to be a challenge).

Update: I didn't read the article as closely as I should have. I guess they already had a copy. Still, if the library has received "challenges" because of its content, they have the right (acting under the direction of the library board) to deselect it from their collection. The article doesn't give enough background to know whether or not it was challenged by a member of the public who noticed it or a staff member, but I'm guessing that if it made it through processing and into the catalog that a member of the public challenged it.

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