Thursday, March 15, 2007


Targeted for Censorship: This Year's 'Champs'

I became a fan of the American Library Association's Committee on Intellectual Freedom long before I began to work in a library.

I was a curriculum director in a K-12 school district in California when I got a call from a "concerned" mother who said that the reading textbooks we had adopted was giving her kid nightmares. I had just stumbled into my first coordinated censorship campaign from Focus on the Family and other organizations of that political stripe. It was a statewide campaign, complete with prepared materials that looked home-baked only weren't. They popped up in about 35 other districts. I only survived it because of the work of the ALA; facing down censors can be a very lonely activity.

Since then I have looked with considerable interest at the ALA's Top 10 books targeted for censorship of any particular year. This year's champs, according to the ALA press release include:

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) received a total of 546 challenges last year. A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school, requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. Public libraries, schools and school libraries report the majority of challenges to OIF.

"The number of challenges reflects only incidents reported," said Judith F. Krug, director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom. "For each reported challenge, four or five likely remain unreported."

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