By: Guest Contributor Augustus Wachbrit. Great literature and social scientific research overlap in that they often concern topics of interpersonal, political, or societal importance; when either were to be lost, human dignity surely suffers. Being vocally opposed to the censorship of the arts or the sciences is a necessity these days—one of the reasons why Banned Books Week is a fantastic initiative.
Each article in the Library Bill of Rights is important, but I’m always drawn to this particular article for that phrase. “To provide information and enlightenment”. It is essential that parents and educators understand that to be fully informed, enlightened citizens in our society, our children must be exposed to a diverse array of viewpoints and ideas, not just those that fit within a certain ideology.
It also demonstrates cowardice and intolerance. If you disagree with someone’s viewpoint, you should have the courage and respect to share and discuss the reasons behind your beliefs. And more importantly, you should have the courage and respect to listen to ideas other than your own.
As an academic librarian with a deep interest in historical and contemporary book censorship, I can’t imagine a better way to spend my vacation than with the very books deemed too dangerous to read. This post is my first dispatch as a visiting fellow in publishing history at the Houghton Library, Harvard’s main repository of rare books and manuscripts.
Many libraries have meeting rooms or public spaces that can be used for speakers and events, and this case reinforces the importance of making content neutral decisions regarding who can use these spaces and what they can use them for. Decisions that are not content (or viewpoint) neutral risk legal problems for the library. This also highlights the importance of a clearly defined meeting room and events policy, both to guide internal decision making and to allow staff to have clear and specific viewpoint neutral policy-based reasons if they choose to deny a request to use library space.
The Index Librorum Prohibitorum was a list of books banned for lay Roman Catholic readership. Officially — though the Church was never fully explicit in its means of prosecution of such rules — any individual who dared read any books included on this list risked excommunication and, thus, spiritual damnation.
In the twenty years since Harry Potter first arrived on the publishing scene, J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard series has faced more than its share of attempts to see the books limited, banned or even burned.
Two weeks ago, students at the University of Texas at Dallas campus found two Qur’ans in the toilet.