Library Fangirl

Geek, fangirl, and library technician.
Compulsive hoarder of tasty chocolate, kitty cuddles, and really good stories.
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Posts tagged "censorship"

“The vast majority of cases that we deal with have to do with removing books to keep kids from seeing them,” [Bertin] said. “That’s what makes this so egregious. There are some possible arguments for trying to keep kids away from certain kinds of content, but in the case of adults, other than the restrictions on obscenity and child pornography, there’s simply no excuse. This is really very much against the norms in the profession.”

Vintage, which is part of Random House, said in a statement, “Random House fervently opposes literary censorship and supports the First Amendment rights of readers to make their own reading choices. We believe the Brevard County Public Library System is indulging in an act of censorship, and essentially is saying to library patrons: We will judge what you can read.”

It’s a sad day when you read about an instance of censorship where the library itself is the complainant.  What’s going on, people?  What happened to that good ol’ librarian upholding-people’s-freedom-to-read integrity?

If the people desire mindless, PWP, lemon-flavored smut — give them the smut!

The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom released its annual list of most frequently challenged books of 2011 yesterday, and the increased popularity of Suzanne Collins’ dystopian saga — in large part fueled by buzz surrounding the blockbuster film — drove the books higher on the list. In 2010, only the first novel cracked the top ten at number five. In 2011, all three books occupy the number three position, and the complaints have grown more varied: “anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence.”

This comes as no real surprise to anyone, I should think; the violence in the books alone would be enough to earn it a place on the ALA’s list.  It’s been a long time since I read the series myself, but I personally can’t remember off the top of my head what could be construed as occult or satanic themes — and I certainly have no idea why they would be singled out for being either:

  • anti-ethnic: notwithstanding the blatant Hollywood whitewashing of cast in the movie adaptation (which I don’t think should even be accounted for when someone challenges the book,) I seem to remember there being a fairly diverse range of ethnic characters in the original story, even down to Katniss herself, who from her description I personally always imagined somewhat mixed-race. 
  • anti-family: I find this claim even more bizarre, considering the entire reason Katniss volunteers herself as tribute is to save her sister from being entered in the Games herself.  Everything Katniss does is motivated by the desire to protect her family and friends.

The things some people choose to raise a stink about and challenge material over never ceases to amaze me.  I would hope that no school or public library would remove The Hunger Games from their collection, as I think they’re wonderful books, and — much like Harry Potter or even *shudder* Twilight — have created a swathe of new, avid young readers.  And how can that be anything but good?

I remember reading some articles a couple of years back about the blatant whitewashing that publishers inflict on the covers of books, most notably young adult titles.  The issue was highlighted at that time by the release of Justine Larbalestier’s new novel, Liar, which featured a black teenage protagonist; yet Bloomsbury opted to display a white girl on the American cover, despite the protests from Larbalestier herself and other readers.

On her blog, Larbalestier wrote on the matter:

Editors have told me that their sales departments say black covers don’t sell. Sales reps have told me that many of their accounts won’t take books with black covers. Booksellers have told me that they can’t give away YAs with black covers. Authors have told me that their books with black covers are frequently not shelved in the same part of the library as other YA—they’re exiled to the Urban Fiction section—and many bookshops simply don’t stock them at all.

How welcome is a black teen going to feel in the YA section when all the covers are white? Why would she pick up Liar when it has a cover that so explicitly excludes her?

Thankfully, after much pressuring on the issue, Bloomsbury did release a new cover with a more fitting model featured, but I still think it’s sad that a protest to get them to do so was even needed in the first place, and sadder still that this sort of whitewashing and racist discrimination continues to happen within the publishing industry.


Goes to show you that you really can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

More links to articles and blogs on this subject: