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The Difference Between Selection and Censorship

Rosie is a library media specialist. An avid reader and life-long learner, Rosie enjoys sharing her knowledge and expertise in many areas.

Intellectual Freedom

Intellectual freedom is the right of every person to seek information freely without restriction or fear of judgment. The American Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Manual states that, “Censorship to restrict or suppress information for almost any reason is absolutely opposed to the principles of intellectual freedom. Censorship flourishes when no one safeguards intellectual freedom.”

You may think this issue to be old and irrelevant, however, even today there are several examples of intellectual freedom being challenged by some who demand censorship.


Selection and Censorship

Selection is a positive process in which books and materials are chosen based upon a set of unbiased criteria that are designed to meet the needs and interests of its learning community. Criteria may include relevancy, student interests, school curriculum, survey responses and professional reviews. Students, parents, staff, and administration may request items which may be purchased provided there is space and the budget allows.

Censorship is a negative process where materials are assessed for weaknesses and possible reasons for denying them to readers. Often it is the case that misinterpretations of portions of material are made when the entire work is not examined as a whole. Patrons may have good intentions when filing complaints about a book or other media. However, the request for removal of items denies patrons the basic right to select their own reading material.

Every person has the right to decide for themselves which books to read. As a librarian, I will have the responsibility of providing a selection that supports the curriculum, is age-appropriate, and meets the needs and interests of its learning community. I will do this by not allowing my own personal biases to interfere with the selection process. Librarians also bear the responsibility of protecting intellectual freedom by allowing users to make their own reading choices without fear of judgment. I will protect the intellectual freedom of my patrons by providing materials that meet their diverse needs and interests, and creating an inviting atmosphere where readers will want to be.

Banned and Challenged Books

For a list of banned and challenged books, visit the American Library Association's website. These can be looked up by year, decade, author, and other ways too.

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Below I have listed recently banned and challenged books. These may come as a surprise to people who have read them.

According to ALA, out of 464 challenges as reported by the Office for Intellectual Freedom, the list below was created:

  • Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey.
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.
    Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  • Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
  • Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  • And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.
    Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group
  • The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.
    Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  • Looking for Alaska, by John Green.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  • Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence
  • The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  • Beloved, by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence


Dilip Chandra from India on May 29, 2013:

Informative hub and it was well written. Thank for the share. I voted it UP

Audrey Surma (author) from Virginia on May 29, 2013:

Thanks for reading Rachel! Yes, I think banning books does make readers want to read them more too. Ironically, those who challenge books often have not even read them. Take care!

Rachel Horon on May 29, 2013:

Censorship and banning books make them more interesting for those who are kept away from the book. With thousands of books published every year and millions in circulation, readers can make a selection on a topic that everyone can agree on. Before long, the young reader will be old enough to read anything and everything. Good hub, Rosie!

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