Student Snippets


Don't Censor Me

I've become a little obsessed with the American Library Association's Code of Ethics and Freedom to Read statement.  The idea that anyone can access any kind of information at a public library is so egalitarian and so truly democratic, and really appeals to me.  I've been thinking about it a lot, and was a little taken aback the other day by an exchange at my local branch library.

Some relevant information:

  • the librarian working that day was not one of the regular librarians, all of whom know my family very well, so this was someone with no information about me or my kids.
  • my older daughter reads and comprehends well above her grade level (3rd grade), and looks younger than her actual age (8).
  • she selects her own books, and independently chooses to stop reading if the text or subject matter is too much for her.

Back to the story.

One of the books we were checking out was Wonder by R.J. Palacio (which turned out to be fabulous -- I highly recommend it).  I had actually selected this for me, not my kids.  It's geared toward older elementary school students, and a friend thought I might like it.  At the time I thought it was probably a little old for my 3rd grader, but now, having read it, I do think she could have handled it.  Anyway, while she scanned our pile of books, the librarian looked at the book, looked over my kids, and said, with a disapproving face, "watch out for this book."  I was totally taken aback, and said, "oh, that's for me to read."  But I really wish I'd said something like "Actually, she'll be just fine" or "I know she'll come to me with questions" or "I let her make her own book choices."  All afternoon, I couldn't stop thinking about the interaction -- was the librarian out of line?

What do you think?  Has a librarian ever commented negatively on your choice of reading material?  Do librarians actually consider the Code of Ethics or other statements from the ALA, or is that something that only LIS students think about?  How much influence can an offhand comment have?  

YA Literature