Responding to recent book ban efforts

KCC Library Contributed Column

In the past two years, there have been many challenges to having books in libraries and schools with content that some people object to, according to the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom. 

Recently, school districts in states such as Tennessee and Texas have targeted books that some parents see as problematic. Republican legislators in Iowa have proposed bills that would allow parents to sue school districts whose libraries possess books that are perceived to be objectionable. 

Polls show that most Iowans do not believe this is a reasonable approach. Critics of such campaigns assert that recent challenges are politically motivated and aim to prevent students from learning about the experiences of LGBTQ people or people of color. The Kirkwood Library’s LibBLOG (kirkwoodlibrary.wordpress.com/) will soon be including posts that explore some specific titles and issues. 

The Library Bill of Rights, ALA’s official policy for providing services, states, “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” Resources should not be denied to minors, and libraries should resist efforts to block access to information about topics such as sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. 

Librarians know that children and young adults, especially those who are developing an understanding of their own identities, are sure to seek information about such subjects. The Kirkwood Library follows (to the best of our ability) these ALA directives to ensure that the resources we provide are accurate, useful, and accessible to all users. 

Kirkwood defends and promotes freedom of speech. Our Board policy and the Kirkwood Community College Catalog state, “It is the proper role of an institution of higher education to encourage diversity of thoughts, ideas, and opinions and to encourage . . . the peaceful, respectful, and safe exercise of First Amendment rights.”

All libraries have procedures in place for determining what resources to acquire, based on the needs and interests of their users.

The Kirkwood Library collection policy focuses on supporting the instructional and individual needs of students, faculty, and staff. It also notes that we depend on the “enthusiastic support and recommendations of faculty and students.” 

In that spirit (but keeping in mind budgets), the Library welcomes your requests for new materials – access the Purchase Request Form at kirkwood.libwizard.com/f/purchase

If you would like to learn more about book challenges, please explore the ALA’s “Banned & Challenged Books” website at www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks.

Categories: Feature, Library Update