This week we have been charged with the task of examining our research interest in the form of Kristin Luker’s “bedraggled daisy.” As stated in my previous blog post, I am interested in examining the way(s) in which information is mediated/censored in the library. I am aware that I will have to narrow this question eventually, but at this moment in time I don’t have it narrowed except for the fact that I would like to look at the actions of individual librarians/library workers.
I hold intellectual freedom in high regard, but it is an article I read earlier this year concerning a weeding “scandal” at the Urbana Free Library in Urbana Illinois that first got me thinking about the unconscious ways in which information in libraries is mediated. The article, entitled “Do you ever read any of the books you [weed]?” (a play on the line from Fahrenheit 451) examines the background of the scandal rather than actually discussing weeding methodology in depth. But I began about how even libraries with well established (and practiced) weeding policies must fall prey to the biases of the individuals charged with weeding. Not to mention the forces at play when materials are selected and recommended to potential users.
Another case which forced me to think about this issue the 2012 controversy surrounding the banning of Alan Moore’s Neonomicon by a single library director of a South Carolinian library (Gomez, 2012). The content of Moore’s work is controversial and directed at adults, however the decision of one person to remove it from the library affected an entire community.
I have been able to narrow down the overlapping issues in my research topic to the following:
1) Policy- both the policy of libraries and of larger organizations such at the CLA and the ALA.
2) Access to education- Who has the opportunity/inclination to work in a library in a capacity which would give them the power to mediate/gate keep information?
3) Social context(s)- where is the library located? Is the town/neighbourhood conservative, poor, liberal, white, etc?
4) Psychology- Does acknowledging one’s biases necessarily make a difference? Can a person even be aware of all of their biases?
Gomez, B. (December 3, 2012). NEONOMICON Banned in South Carolina. Retrieved from http://cbldf.org/2012/12/neonomicon-banned-in-south-carolina/