By Karina Reyes
Selection is a way of censorship. During the presentation called Walking the Line
Between Selection and Censorship with Teen and Children’s Librarians, the discussion panel
shared how they dealt with censorship not just from the public but from themselves. Many of
the librarians in the panel are aware that they are essentially censoring when they choose not
to put a particular text in their collection. Ann Morgester admitted that she struggles with this
especially when it comes to series. Do you keep the entire series when you realize that the
subsequent books in the series begin to be inappropriate for the age group that your library
caters to? She chose to not keep any of the series and directed student patrons to the public
The public library has slightly different censorship issues than the school libraries
because they carry materials for all age groups. They have to be careful that adult-level
materials are not inadvertently shelved next to children’s literature. And within the children’s
section, they have to also consider that a pre-school, elementary, middle school, and young
adult books are not intermingling. As Elizabeth Nicolai mentioned, “sometimes Caillou is next to something for a ten-year old,” and this could cause some distressed parent to protest that their pre-schooler has access to inappropriate material.
Sometimes censorship happens on a purely personal level. One librarian, Suzanne
Metcalfe, found herself emotionally traumatized “by a figure of a child carrying a dead baby on
her hands…I then censored it.” It’s a tough call, she admits. Was she affected by baby-
hormones as a new mother at the time?
The session left me with more questions to ponder: how do I judge graphic novels?
Does an author’s misdeeds affect whether the library carries his/her books in their collection?
How do I separate the artist from their artistic work? Censorship is a multi-layered issue that
deserves daily visits. One thing I will always ask myself now: who is this work going to serve? If it could be one of my students then I will add/keep it in my collection. Censorship has its place but I will select or de-select materials based on a multi-layer, multi-question, metacognitive