The growing conservative trend aiming to prosecute and punish educators and librarians for having materials that include ideas about racism, sex, and sexuality is in direct oppostition to the cause of “liberty” – a term often used by these same groups to justify their actions.
As a librarian I believe everyone should have access to the information they need, but as a parent I can understand how the lack of parental control presented by school programs and unrestricted library books can be very unnerving. Much like protests to the teaching of sexuality education in schools, books on the subject are challenged in libraries due to the role they play in the spread of such important information.
Former ALA President Ann Symons said it well in explaining that a materials challenge is a trip to hell, something that you wouldn’t want to wish on your worst enemy. However, I believe that facing the experience with honest communication and an understanding of the right of each person to their particular viewpoint are the keys to navigating the journey successfully. My parents taught me to stand up for I believed in and supporting intellectual freedom and universal access are, for me, core beliefs.
We may read about challenges and censorship in the news but when the story no longer makes headlines, the librarians are still doing their jobs. Ten years later, Ms. Barnett still advocates for access to all resources.