Free People Weed Freely?


I found this blog posting with reference to a Washington Post article on the weeding system set up at the Fairfax County Public Library system, and it struck me that perhaps the blogger here is being a bit inflammatory by conflating weeding with censorship in his title [“Must We Burn Faulkner?”].

His post got me thinking about issues of censorship and material selection, and particularly how some folks equate their desire to remove an “objectional” book/magazine/DVD from a library with librarians’ decisions to select for and weed book collections.

Weeding is certainly a big topic in the library world. I’m interested to know whether librarians out there have encountered this conflation in their systems, with the public, etc. How have you dealt with the issue?

For some background on collection development, weeding, and censorship, check out Lester Asheim’s seminal article, “Not Censorship But Selection,” June Pinnell-Stephens’ 2002 article on Asheim’s 1953 article, ALA’s interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights on Evaluating Library Collections, and a bibliography on the topic.

And just for fun, Pop Goes the Librarian has a posting on the Fairfax article, and also discusses the Maplewood, N.J., library’s efforts to deal with the issue of those rowdy kids by shutting down during afternoons (another issue with intellectual freedom implications). (Hat tip, h20boro lib blog.)

UPDATE: Fairfax County posted their response to the article and the ensuing donnybrook on their blog on Friday. As they put it:

Recent media reports that claim our library system is eliminating all copies of classic literature from our shelves are absolutely incorrect. Although we occasionally reduce the number of copies of a particular title — perhaps trimming Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls from 110 copies to 108, for example — we’re committed to offering classic texts by western culture’s leading authors.

Also on a link from their main page.

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