the future of libraries in the digital age
This morning, waiting patiently for me in my inbox, sat an email from a parent questioning a book his daughter checked out from our school library.
This post will be dedicated to detailing the events associated with this challenge:
Our daughter, XXXXXXX, brought home a book she checked out from the Auburn High School library. The book is titled "Hunted", A House of Night Novel. Over the weekend my wife took some time to look at this book and found it to have numerous curse words. For example, on P. 21 the author uses the "S" word. On P. 28 the "F" word is used. Also they use the letters "WTF" in the book as well. There are obviously other improper words used, but these are just some examples. Our question to you is what is the school policy regarding books that use these types of words? We, as parents, feel that a public school library should not offer books to our 15 year old that contain this type of language. We would hope this type of book would be pulled from the library shelves and no longer be available to the students. We look forward to hearing back from you with answers to our questions and your thoughts on the subject.
XXXX & XXXX XXXXX
Dear Mr. XXXX:
Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.
The Auburn City School Libraries follow a strict procedure regarding challenged materials.
Please read and complete the attached Challenged Materials form so that we can address your concerns in a professional and timely manner. http://bit.ly/11OpMK7
We thank you for your response. However, we are confused as to why a "committee" would need to be formed to address a book that uses the "F" word being available on your school library shelves. A "committee" seems to be a unnecessary waste of taxpayer resources to resolve something that could be solved with a common sense solution. As noted in my first email, we would like to know if the Auburn City School system has any clear guidelines they follow when this type of word is used. This is not a literary classic we are referring to in this example. It is clearly a "teenage" book written for a teenage audience. And uses language not acceptable for teenagers in our opinion. Once again, what are your thoughts about this type of language being used in school library books? If necessary we will complete the attached reconsideration form, but think this should or could be more easily resolved by just taking a look at the book. Thanks.
Dear Mr. XXXX: I have read and understand the concerns expressed in your correspondences. As previously stated, Auburn City School Libraries follow a strict procedure regarding challenged materials. Please read and complete the attached Challenged Materials form so that we can address your concerns in a professional and timely manner. http://bit.ly/11OpMK7
I experienced a similar situation about two years back. I think that following the procedures is important, particularly the info. regarding informing the principal.
I was able to work out an arrangement w/ the parent in question in that when her student selected books for check out, I would hold the books and email the parent the titles and a variety of reviews so that the parent could have a voice in what the child was reading. It was a slightly cumbersome arrangement; however, the book remained on the shelf. One parent was not dictating the reading choice of all children. By the time the child moved to AHS, our emails to one another were very friendly. I felt that we had established a great relationship of trust.
I just wanted to share my experience. A book being challenged is not fun....
I had a similar issue several years ago regarding content, not language per se. After following challenge procedures, we ended up putting a letter with it for parents to sign before a student read it (it was a class set). It's really a good book, but contained a couple of cultural issues to which the parent objected.
Additionally, in accordance with our school district policy, I reported this challenge to the Office of Intellectual Freedom: http://bit.ly/JPwTrO
I'm sure this is not the end of this situation. Be sure to stay tuned for updates.