Book Review: Dark Archives: A Librarian’s Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin

Overall Rosenbloom’s book engaged me intellectually in a way I was not expecting, and still addressed the issue (who the heck makes books made out of human skin?) that got me to pick up the book in the first place. It turned out to be a really interesting lens through which to consider medical ethics, ethics regarding human remains, and collection development ethics all rolled into one unique issue

A woman holds a finger over her lips in the signal for secrecy.

Libraries don’t hide controversial material, especially during a national movement

It’s frustrating to see a Library Trustee – presumably someone who loves libraries – making these statements because they seem so antithetical to what libraries do. It’s not entirely clear what he wants as a solution, but at the very least it seems like he’s asking the library to ignore current events and to hide collections on controversial subjects. I’m also saddened by the implication that by including something on the library website the library is “promoting” it. Librarians buy and check out materials every day we disagree with; that’s our job.

Magnifying glasses, book, calligraphy

Omission or censorship? Meta-outrage overlooks legitimate controversy

Outrage tends to oversimplify. Outrage over outrage tends exacerbate this, and shift focus away from the situation at hand. In a recent emblematic example, the author of an editorial who is fatigued by “ban worries” over school library books strives to differentiate between omission and censorship. This side-debate, albeit valuable, misdirects from actual censorship occurring within the confines of the original controversy. Go figure.

Magazines displayed on a rack Photo Credit by CC 2.0 Ken Hawkins

Teen Vogue Challenge

This past summer, patrons around the country challenged libraries about their subscriptions to Teen Vogue. The online article that caused the controversy was published on the Teen Vogue website and was about anal sex. The article was not published in the paper copies of the magazine, but patrons called on libraries to end Teen Vogue subscriptions because of its online content. A public library director, who wishes to remain anonymous, shares how she and her library staff worked through the challenge.