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.
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.
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.