Libraries Must Hold A Book That Offends You: True or False?

There are subjects in the world that many people don’t want to talk about. Here’s the issue with censorship and libraries.

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Censorship has been a present issue in recent years, especially in libraries. The idea of banning books out of fear, because you don’t agree with the contents, or you don’t like the author are all considered viable options when it comes to the topic. But the question of how it happens, and in what sense it happens, has to do with the process of misinformation.

The Lifework of Librarians

To become a librarian, it is best to receive an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree in Library Sciences from an ALA-accredited university, especially if you wish to work in a school (i.e. elementary, middle, and/or high schools). They study and are trained in the specification to best help their students and library-goers in their research, as well as pleasure, reading. They are trained to help spread knowledge.

Should libraries offer books that offend people
Image via The Salt Lake Tribune

And in recent years many politicians (specifically GOPs) have been coming for their jobs, as well as library funding. Threatening that if they don’t remove a specific book, or censor and vice versa, they will either remove funding or fire any librarians who stand against them. And the primary amount of books being threatened is those featuring LGBTQIA+ or Persons of Color. So, pretty much any book that boasts representation.

(There Are No) Both Sides of the Holocaust

In recent news, there has been an argument going around that because the library holds a book teaching about one side of the Holocaust, they must hold a book disputing that side (i.e. Nazism). Pamela Hawley, a school district employee from suburban Seattle basically claimed the age-old argument that libraries are supposed to hold books that make readers uncomfortable, even if they may spread misinformation and lies. That misinformation and lies being the “other side of the Holocaust.”

These statements come just after Kanye West’s antisemitic rant, as well as the threats on Jewish people’s lives. The FBI released a statement urging Jews to take caution and protect themselves when it came to worship in their synagogues for fear of attacks.

Should libraries offer books that offend people
Image via Comparitech

But in the case of Hawley, there have been people who push back against the holding of books that may dispute the actions of the Holocaust. One Twitter user, a librarian in Hawley’s districts, said, “You don’t need to give facts and misinformation in the same platform, especially in a school library.”

There is no room for hatred in a place where knowledge is meant to be built. And quoting Kelly Jensen from Book Riot:

No shelf space, not even in the most conservative communities or schools, is allotted for actively harmful, dangerous, disingenuous, mis/dis/mal information. That is not, nor has it ever been, the purpose of a library.

Kelly Jensen

In lieu of censorship, it is something that should not exist in the first place. There is no need for hatred in books and there should be no discourse sown over books. That is not what they exist for.

If you would like to read or learn more about the fight against censorship, click here!

The only way to stop it is to stand together against it.