After reading many articles (New York Times Books, Librarian.net, American Libraries) on the hullabaloo about The Higher Power of Lucky, I finally was able to get my hands on a copy of the book and read it for myself. In case you missed the kerfuffle, the word “scrotum” is one of the words that Susan Patron uses in this Newbery award winning book. Some people, including librarians, really took issue with that. As a local librarian said, “scrotum is just another word for sac”.
I loved the book. I especially loved the protagonist Lucky, who is a spunky, confident and intelligent 10-year old girl. I also enjoyed the story and the writing. Some school librarians in the US said that it is not quality literature. This argument is used to censor through selection.
Here’s a short video with an interview with Susan Patron, who is also a children’s librarian. Neil Gaiman is quoted at the beginning:
I’ve decided that librarians who would decline to have a Newbery book in their libraries because they don’t like the word scrotum are not real librarians (who I love unconditionally).
I think they are rogue librarians who have gone over to the dark side.
The Asylum Street Spankers sing a song called The Scrotum Song. I think it’s pretty funny (and a bit rude too), enjoy!
Photo by arimoore
While I hope you’re checking back regularly, or have added this to an aggregator, you may want to also join the IFC email listserv.A The email list is more announcements (of meetings, deadlines, events) while I hope this blog will grow into the place where we host more discussions.
Planting that seed…
I first got involved with the intellectual freedom committee (IFC) by presenting on the Ain`t on the G&M panel at the BCLA conference.
Here`s the rationale behind presenting lesser known materials, often from small independent publishers (from the IFC page):
For the past three years, members of the BCLA Intellectual Freedom Committee and other librarians committed to building diverse collections in public libraries gave an introduction to the value of seeking quirky, less-mainstream and less-hyped materials for patrons. In this session, books, DVDs and videos are introduced at breakneck speed! None of the materials will ever appear on a bestseller list or as an Oprah pick, but we believe the public library has a much more important function than just providing commercially-driven materials.
Here are the lists from 2007, 2006 and 2005–does your library have many of these books?
one of my goals for the summer was to read the protocols of the elders of zion.A i want to try and read the original text of books that i know i will find difficult and objectionable, sorta like putting my intellectual freedom money where my mouth is, or something like that.
unfortunately work has eaten up most of the summer, and i haven’t even finished harry potter.A the only good thing about the vancouver public library strike is that i’ve had the last HP for 6 weeks.
a sweet friend showed me this on the youtubes, it’s pretty catchy:
At the BCLA conference this April we ran a no-bake sale with the Information Policy Committee to raise awareness and money for the Little Sister’s Defense Fund. We asked conference participants to make a donation for a brochure that explained the history of the Canadian Boarder Services Agency’s ongoing seizures of books bound for Vancouver’s famous queer book store. This has been going on for over 20 years.
Not only did we have a great time, dressing up in pink wigs and vintage aprons, but we raised $420 in just 2 hours.
We were also successful in passing a motion at the AGM for the BCLA Executive to send letters to the Minister of Justice and opposition party critics to affirm that people need access to legal resources to be able to challenge government policy. Letters will also be sent to the Minister of Public Safety and opposition party critics to request the Minister to instruct Canadian Boarder Services Agency to stop censoring.
At our last meeting we banged out 200 buttons with slogans like I read banned books, There’s something in my library to offend everyone, and a bunch of anti-DRM slogans. Did you know that the BCLA has a button maker that you can use?A Well, now you do…
We will be at Word on the Street Sunday, September 30th with the Information Policy Committee to host our wheel of information issues. Last year the wheel was really successful, our booth was busy all day long. Perhaps people were excited about learning more about privacy issues and net neutrality. Perhaps they just enjoyed the satisfying clack-clack-clack that the wheel made. Perhaps it was the gummi candy.
Check out the planning wiki if you would like to get involved.
While we are waiting to find out what Canadian server this blog will land on, I thought I’d get the ball rolling.
I hope this blog will be a way for us to:
- communicate within The British Columbia Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee, with the Association as a whole (especially folks outside the Lower Mainland), and with other library folks
- highlight the events that we participate in
- archive and remember what we did (to make the official report writing easier)
- think and write about ideas around intellectual freedom, censorship and library and information policy. I challenge us to explore familiar and unfamiliar territory in depth and to sometimes feel uncomfortable.
I’m not quite sure how to set up multiple authors for this blog, but I’ll figure it out. Please let me know if you would like to be added.