Sunday, March 15, 2009

Note to self: challenges don't just occur in libraries...

I was reading some news online today when a headline caught my eye, "Show will go on — on Steve Martin’s dime: Author-comedian to fund off-campus production of banned play." In short, the article details how a play written by Steve Martine called “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” was banned at a high school in La Grande, Oregon due to objections from parents for adult content. After receiving a petition signed by 137 people, the school baord stopped rehearsals for the play. In the end, the play will go on because a Student Democrats group raised money to present the play at a local university instead. In addition, Martin has donated money to ensure that the play would go on...I thought it was nice to read that any fund left over would go towards acting scholarships.

There is no doubt that this situation is very similar to the challenges that sometimes occur in libraries. There is also no doubt that the school board's decision to cancel the play amounted to censorship. It is a relief to know that the play will still reach an audience in La Grande (and that student activism helped achieve this goal) but the banning at the high school is disheartening. I wonder how many high school kids who would have attended the play when it was on their campus will be able to attend the play at the new venue... then again, maybe the controversy will encourage more students and members of the community to view the play, thereby negating the censorial efforts of the petitioning parents...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

IF bumper stickers, shirts, and more!

Looking for a quick way to make sure everyone knows how you feel about protecting and preserving intellectual freedom...? I found some wacky gear that might satisfy your needs... (N.B., I am no way associated with the sellers of this merchandise, claim the merchandise is high-quality great stuff, etc.) I just came across it and thought it might appeal to other folks taking LIS 551 or who happen to stumble across this blog. Anyhoo, here's the link... -e

Friday, February 20, 2009

And Tango Makes Three part 2

So I decided to check out the most challenged book of 2007, And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell with illustrations by Henry Cole. I wasn't even sure if my local public library would carry it but a quick check of the HCL catalog revealed that I could get my hands on it, most challenged book be damned! What a relief!

Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group- these are the reasons identified by ALA for why this title is so frequently challenged. It should be noted here that ALA defines a challenge as "a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness."

So needless to say, due to all the uproar and identified "challenge-worthy" criticisms, when I first sat down to read this book, I expected to find lots of racy pictures of male penguins having cartoonish-like sex. Wrong! Instead, I found a sweet story about two male penguins named Roy and Silo at the Central Park Zoo who fall in love, make a nest of stones together, and desire to fill their empty nest like all the other penguin couples hatching little baby penguins together. In the end, their keeper sneaks an orphaned egg into their nest, and Roy and Silo take turns caring for the egg until a baby girl penguin named Tango hatches. Ultimately, this is a love story. It does not advocate homosexuality or disparage "families." It sends the message that love is love and no family or couple is the same.

What I find most interesting about the book comes in the author's note on the last page- this is the true story of a penguin family living at the Central Park Zoo. I wonder if the individuals and groups who challenged And Tango Makes Three went to the zoo to protest the real Roy, Silo, and Tango. Seems pretty silly to me...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Banned Books Week *Bleep* video

Here's a video from ALA on Banned Books Week '08 that makes a great point about the harm of censorship...apparently censorship can induce moderate to severe hallucinations...yikes!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

And Tango Makes Three part 1

Here is a tidbit I found about a challenged book I am going to read... I'm curious to find out if the title lives up to its salacious reputation...

The most challenged book of the year, though, was "And Tango Makes Three," a picture book that told the true story of a pair of male penguins in New York that receive an egg to nurture. The objections were varied: it was anti-ethnic, sexist, gay, anti-family, it had an inappropriate religious viewpoint and wasn't suitable for children -- all of this despite excellent reviews from both School Library Journal and Booklist.

Apparently no one objected that reading the book might make the kids want to grow up and be penguins.

From: Have You Read a Banned Book? By Martha Brockenbrough

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Tipper Sticker

I was driving in the car today with my two young sons when I heard the edited, "clean" version of a song that I know for a fact has multiple cuss words and references to sex in the album version (Akon's "I wanna love you"). Immediately, several thoughts came to mind:

  1. I was glad that it was the clean version so I wasn't forced to change the station because my boys are like parrots and repeat everything they hear. My 4 1/2 year old will also grill me for hours about expressions and slang he doesn't understand so I was happy I didn't have to explain some of the references... yikes!
  2. I was forced to think about the connection between intellectual freedom and "clean" versions of songs, and the ramifications/implications for the artists, their work, and their vision. As a mother, I was pleased that I didn't have to hear the explicit version of the song but as someone interested in intellectual freedom, I was struck by the artist's compromise to their original version.
  3. I was reminded of my younger days when buying a record with a "Parental Advisory Warning" or "Tipper Sticker" (so-called due to Tipper Gore's role in the label's development) was considered so risque that it was actually cool. I even remember some stores wouldn't let minors buy albums holding the label so my friends and I would stand outside the store asking strangers to buy them for us. Come to think of it, this scenario sounds a lot like an afterschool special where minors are trying to score cigarettes or alcohol...hhmmm, kind of makes you think.
  4. I had a vision of my boys standing outside a music store or library trying to "score" some explicit lyrics which is both sad and funny to me.
  5. Back to the thought about artists compromising or altering their music in order to gain airtime- is it about money, catering to the diverse needs of their audience, both, none of the above, forced by their label, it all depends? It is worth noting that the labels are voluntary and "The PAL Notice is an indicator that record companies, artists, advertisers, and online and mobile merchants voluntarily place on products, advertisements and services to better inform consumers and retailers, while also protecting the interests of artists in free expression and artistic creativity" (from the RIAA's PAL program website).
  6. Last thought I had, "I am definitely getting old...!!!"

Thursday, February 5, 2009

UN and IF

I was checking out the United Nation's website today in order to learn more about the organization's position on intellectual freedom. Article 19 of "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights" was the closest statement I could find within the UN relating to intellectual freedom. It states:

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Although article 19 does not specifically state that it is about intellectual freedom, the language used in the statement (i.e., "to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers") reassures me that the UN does support intellectual freedom and the free exchange of information. I feel like this statement is a pretty good one and could even be used in library's statement or policy on intellectual freedom.


Searching the UN website for documents relating to "intellectual freedom," I also found an interesting article called "The role of the library in promoting peace," written by an UK librarian named Bob McKee. In the article, McKee maintains that "...a library can promote peace not just through the knowledge it contains, not just through the understanding it promotes, not just through the opportunities it provides – but also through the principles and processes it embodies" (p.1).

I'm curious to hear what others have to say about the McKee statement or article that libraries can promote peace... true, false, maybe, depends, etc.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Diversity video mentions FTR

As it has probably become painfully obvious, I am a very visual person so I love connecting people to ideas via multimedia... somehow art, music, videos, movies, etc. always help me understand a new concept or idea much faster than if I just read it in plain text.

Don't get me wrong- text is good. I love text! I love reading! I love reading text in all its forms- paper, codices, digital, textiles, papyrus, on the side of buildings, you name it! However, I also love the notion of approaching knowledge from a variety of angles in order to reinforce the message and encourage a deeper connection and understanding.

In a former life, I was an art historian. Now I plan to connect my past and present interests (and degrees!) in a future of art librarianship... go figure on my pedagogical tendencies, eh...?! :)

Where am I going with all this, you might be asking yourself right now...?

Really, I was trying to find an excuse or reason to post a link to a silly yet very cute song I found written and performed by a librarian (who is also an ALA Spectrum Scholar! Yeah, girl!). In it, she mentions the many duties and principles a librarian must or should uphold, including the Freedom to Read...

Here it is: The Librarian's Song!!!

p.s. I would also like to add that part of my support for maintaining intellectual freedom is due to my love for visual arts. The visual arts can sometimes be a touchy subject because works can be easily misunderstood at times and prone to controversy due to different interpretations and boundaries...

Library Lovers Month

February is "Library Lovers Month"!!!

What a great time to celebrate the knowledge, joy, entertainment, satisfaction, stimulation, programming, support, and protection to access resources our libraries give us...

Here are a few links I found that can help you and others support and learn more about libraries:
  • I Love Libraries is a website created by the American Library Association (ALA) "designed for the people who use and love libraries. We want to keep you informed about everything libraries have to offer, as well as develop new ways to involve you in their continued health and vitality."
  • Library Lovers' Month contains poems, valentines, postcards, and various other ideas for showing your appreciation to libraries
I really like the idea of showing appreciation to your favorite library(-ies) since they are one of the hardest working voices in intellectual freedom...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

KCLS training video on Intellectual Freedom

I found this interesting video posted on YouTube that is used by the King County Library System (KCLS) for a class on intellectual freedom. If I'm not mistaken, one of our profs plays a starring role...

I love the section dedicated to "the many faces of disapproval." I'll need to practice my "neutral face" in the mirror...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Another potential topic relating to intellectual freedom but not in a library (unless you count my ragtag assortment of art history, Italian language, library and information science, pregnancy and childraising, cookbooks, "romantic mysteries," and travel books as a library? If so, I would call it the Campbell Clan Library and finally buy the personal library kit I've been dreaming of for years but too embarrassed to buy!)...Wait, where was I? Another potential topic for this blog!

I'm starting to wonder if I'm censoring my son when I use the Internet filters on our new "family" computer. He's 4 1/2 and already a whiz on the computer (in October, he taught his Grandma how to use a laptop!). Mostly he just loves to play preschool games on the Noggin website or other educational games on cd-roms. He doesn't really "surf the Internet" so to speak, although sometimes he likes to search YouTube for free music videos (he loves the Beastie Boys).

In any case, I set up the Internet filters in order to avoid any accidental nudity, violence, etc. from creeping in because that seemed like the right thing to do. I know that ALA's position is that parents need to monitor their children's materials and decide what is best for their kids, what they can handle, etc. And that's what I'm trying to do but really I don't know if the filters are worthwhile, worth the effort, or accomplishing anything. First of all, I deliberately placed the computer in the living room so I could see and hear what he is up to so I would know if he were looking at "naughty" things. Then again, a pop up or a link to website containing nakedness isn't going to be stopped by my presence in the room...

Truth be told, I find the filters to be a pain because they often block or flag perfectly acceptable "kid" websites so I have to authorize every game, video, link, etc. that my son wants to access. And, believe me, he doesn't have a large attention span so having to perform these authorizations every two minutes quickly gets old. I've set up separate user accounts on the computer so this doesn't really affect me when I'm using it but still... I liken it to having the babysitter call you constantly when you are out on an infrequent date night- what's the point if you have to babysit the babysitter...?

Ultimately, I am pretty sure that I am going to remove or lessen the filters I've set up because I just don't think they are worth the extra effort right now. I think the most important thing is that I maintain an active role in my son's screen time, monitor what he is doing, and talk to him about what activities are acceptable or not. Maybe in a few years when he starts to notice things like girls, etc., I'll change me position. For right now, I'm going to fire the babysitter and take over the entire job for myself...

Online Intellectual Freedom Blog criteria

Assignment directions:

Keep an online Intellectual Freedom blog, diary, wiki or web page, creating at least one entry per week to reflect your awareness of intellectual freedom issues. Entries may be reflections on IF issues reported in class or in the news; or about something you’ve read on an IF forum; or perhaps you decide to read a banned book during the week, and report on that. The purpose of the blog is to keep you thinking about the topic when you’re outside of class, and to keep yourself versed on the issues.

So listed above are the directions for writing and maintaining this blog...I like that we have a lot of leeway with this assignment but then again, all that freedom sorta makes me run wild, directionless in the face of so many potential directions. Yes, the irony has been duly noted.

All week, my mind has been racing, trying to come up with a super witty and well formed entry that will just blow the socks off readers of blogs dedicated to IF in many choices, so many options, everywhere I look I keep coming across potential topics. For example, in the current issue of the ALA magazine "American Libraries," I suddenly noticed the section entitled to Censorship Watch. I've been a member of ALA and reading the magazine for over two years now but somehow my eyes and mind just glazed over that section. Sure, I read it but I wasn't really thinking about the greater issues of intellectual freedom and censorship in libraries.

It's like someone flipped on the lights and I can see questions and issues related to IF and censorship everywhere! Ah, the beauty of gaining new knowledge...I love that initial thrill of diving into a new topic. It's almost like the rush I get when I start a new fiction book or the exciting get-to-know-you period when starting a new relationship. So I guess it's official, my love affair with IF has begun.

Stay tuned for another episode of The Young and the Restless Librarian...Did I mention my maiden name is Young? I think all this freedom has gone to my head faster that a dirty double martini. Suddenly, I'm thirsty!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Setup complete!?

I have almost finished setting up this blog which is pretty exciting because this is a new experience for me. I've always wondered how writing a blog actually worked so I guess I am about to find out...

In any case, I set up this blog for LIS 551 Intellectual Freedom in Libraries, an online course I am taking this quarter at the University of Washington's iSchool. As the blog's title suggests, this space will be dedicated to addressing issues pertaining to Intellectual Freedom (IF) in libraries...

Now let's publish this post and see if I did it right...?!