Tag Archives: collection development

Down with Censorship

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I always have interesting feelings when it comes to censorship, and reading Christine Jenkin’s chapter “Censorship: Book Challenges, Challenging Books, and Young Readers” brought up all the feelings–good and bad.

How can I have mixed feelings about censorship? First, let me assume you’re a librarian (or will be one shortly) and assure you that I’m not pro-censorship, not in the least. But Christine brings up important aspects of ordering materials where you debate in your mind a purchase of something and that you might not end up buying it because of potential issues down the road. It’s not selection in this case but censorship.

Sometimes you have these reactions without even realizing it. I order materials for our YA section (really it’s the middle school collection). My coworker orders for High School. Things that are on the cusp we’re consistently sending back and forth to each other–is this you? is it me? It’s not that we would consider not getting it but we don’t want it to go to the wrong collection–it needs to get into the hands of the people who want to read it. It’s very easy to slip into this way of thinking so you always need to second guess yourself on why you’re not buying something. I’m lucky that I have someone to bounce titles off of. When in doubt, I always order it. I can read it and if it’s wildly inappropriate it can be added to the high school section.

The second reaction I always have to censorship is my reaction to the people who want a material removed, not because they’re worried about their child but all the other children who might read it. Or who might read Harry Potter and want to practice witchcraft. Or who might read any number of things can get the wrong idea.

Now, I don’t have children but a long time ago I used to be one and I still think like one. The things that had the most influence on me growing up were my parents and friends. Not books. And I read a LOT. Do not be concerned about children reading books and getting ideas. Spend time talking to your children and passing along your opinions, morals, and ethics if that’s what’s important to you. Read books together and have conversations about how this fits into your family’s values. Or how the character does something wrong (whatever wrong may be) and what your child thinks they should have done instead. Be a parent.

Imagination is okay. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for. Not only is censorship awful because who is one person to decide if something is okay for all children and teens (everyone and every family is different) but remember: the moment you tell that kid or teen that they can’t read something because it’s bad for them, they are going to try extra hard to get a hold of that book and pass it along to their friends.

Okay, rant over 🙂

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48 Hours of Awesome

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It’s hard to believe that it’s Monday and I’m back at work. While on one side I’m inspired and anxious to read, read, read after attending the conference but on the flipside I’m back to catching up on everything that happened this week and the feeling of librarian togetherness just isn’t the same as being surrounded by 500+ librarians who are excited about a lot of the same things that you are.

I saw so many interesting panels, got to talk to several awesome librarians, meet and geek out at some of my favorite authors–this event is like a rock concert for librarians. I think I had only two complaints–and neither had to do with the quality of the symposium. Each panel was unique and different and at the end of the sessions on Saturday and Sunday I was beat because my mind was so excited from everything that was racing around in it.

I’m fairly certain I’ll add in another post about what I went to and links to what was talked about, but I wanted to write about the panel that impacted me the most. Surprisingly, it was the fanfiction/art one. Hearing the panelists speak brought back these memories of me when I was a teen. It was 1997 and the TV show Spy Game was on. No, not the movie but the TV show. I loved this show so much I wrote a letter (actual snail mail) to the network begging them not to cancel the show. Heartless people they were, they canceled in anyways. So I looked for people online who also loved the show and discovered people wrote stories where the two main characters got together. Yes, I was “shipping” even back then, even before I knew what it was.

The panelists talked about how teens seek how fanfiction, write it themselves, or create art because they are not ready for the world they have discovered to end. That was how I felt about Spy Game. And just like teens now, I thought I was the only person in the world who felt this way. I had completely forgotten about this time in my life until the panel brought it back to me and I’m grateful.

Before I leave this post for the day, I just want to mention the other moment that struck me from the symposium. It was in the Fickle Future panel, and two authors (Ellen Hopkins and Beth Fehlbaum) made me tear up as they described the teens who approach them after visits, when everyone else has left to tell them how their stories helped them. The authors mentioned how important it is to have stories like theirs in libraries, and to fight for them to stay, because there are so many teens like this, much more than we realize. That broke my heart a bit.

It was these moments of intense empathy and connections with my inner teen that helped remind me of why I love working with tweens and teens. The symposium reawakened my energy and enthusiasm. I’m excited to read more, create more, and engage the people who come to my library. The next symposium won’t be until 2014 in Austin, Texas. I’ll be there–will you?

Collection Development

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I was really interested in reading the collection development articles for this week because I’ve actually been buying for several different collections for the past few years. When I started at my library I was part of the adult department so I purchased for the High School collection (fiction and nonfiction) and graphic novels. Now that I’m in youth services I buy for the middle school collection (we call it YA) both fiction and nonfiction, graphic novels for all ages through 8th grade, and DVDs.

Collection development is something I’ve learned through on the job experience. But there’s always good new things to learn. I loved the tip from one reading this week to look at books that are marked as long overdue or missing–chances are that it’s missing because it’s a popular book and needs to be replaced. I also liked the idea of taking multiple copies off the shelf (leaving one or two of course) of required reading books for the summer. That way you can open up space for more new books and bring out the other ones next summer. I’m going to see if we can make that happen at our library.

Utilizing the teen advisory board is key. Knowing you have the input of teens to help let you know what’s popular at the moment and what’s fading is really useful. Right now we also use our Anime Club to get their insight on what manga series we should continue or let go. Let’s face it, we’re not the experts on it. But they are, so they’re input is crucial. It frees up time for us that can be put towards additional program planning and makes the teens feel an even deeper connection to the library.

Something that I haven’t always paid the highest attention to is our collection development statement. I’m going to make sure that I copy the pages relevant to my section and put them at my desk where I can quickly see it. It’s a really helpful and important tool when it comes to making a choice on whether to add something or not to the collection.

Making sure the collection that you’re purchasing for has what your patrons need is so key. It’s more than just putting materials in a cart and sending it off to be ordered. You’re creating access to materials for patrons, giving them new stories to discover, and making sure the collection stays healthy. It’s a fantastic responsibility.