2 November, 2009

If you (librarians or book fair chairs) live in a community that is so homophobic that parents will protest a book with gay characters, and you are not willing to take a stand and offer the book, you don’t have to. But Scholastic Inc., whose credo says they strive “To enlarge students’ concern for and understanding of today’s world,” should not pander to this homophobic constituency by refusing to offer Luv Ya Bunches or other books with gay characters in its elementary school book fairs.

Six Boxes of Books: Scholastic censors Luv Ya Bunches





6 October, 2009

With respect to personal lives, an issue that came up during these events was my status as a mother. It was discussed in many conversations by the complainants about my ability and qualifications for my profession if I had not experienced motherhood. I was told several times that I could not understand the situation or its importance because I did not have children, specifically daughters. I often felt I had to defend myself and my personal life, not only my status as a parent, but also my age and my faith. I was told a good Christian would not want to expose smut to innocent minds. It was implied that I couldn’t have a sound religious faith while espousing an appreciation for contemporary YA literature and proudly defending our country’s First Amendment and every citizen’s—including teenagers’—right to read.

Kristin Pekoll, YA librarian at West Bend Community Memorial Library (regarding the censorship attempts earlier this year), in the October 2009 issue of VOYA.

I would think it’s the other way around. Parents have trouble seeing their kids as ever being sexual people, so they gasp in horror if their teenagers want to read books about sex or sexuality. Cooler heads might see that every teenager thinks about sex, and it’s ridiculous to pretend you can “protect” them from it forever.

And the idea that a woman who went to graduate school in order to become a librarian, and who has been working in that capacity for seven years, doesn’t know how to do her job because she’s not a mother? The sexist implications are staggering. Apparently parenthood is now a requirement for any and all jobs that involve working with children. Or maybe just for the women.

But then again, what do I know? I’m not a mother.


5 October, 2009

Can YOU spot the threat to young minds?

Consider the following excerpt:

"Hulya?" she says. "Hi!"

“Yaz!” Hulya says. “Waddup, cuz? Keeping it real?”

Yasaman grins, because Hulya only talks this way when no one else is around. To Yasaman, she’ll say, “Give me some knuckles” or “Yo yo yo,” but to their elderly büyükbaba and büyükanne and their gazillion of halanin and amcanin, it’s yes, ma’am, no sir all the way.

“Um, yeah, I guess I’m keeping it real,” Yasaman says. She grips the phone. “School starts tomorrow.”

“Yah, I know,” Hulya says. “My friend Chrissy? She’s insane. She’s planning this whole sneak attack on Joseph Terrico, who we call Jellico. She is boy crazy with a capital boy, I’m telling ya. She’s the total ditzy blonde—I love her. Only she’s smart under her ditziness, she does have brains, but she’d rather tie a pillow to her tummy and have pretend sumo wrestler fights, ya know?”

Yasaman holds the phone close. She marvels at the way Hulya’s words spill out of her like jelly beans. She also marvels at the image she gets of this Chrissy, blond and manic and pillow-huge, bouncing into people’s stomachs.

“But even when she’s sumo wrestling, she blabbers about boys,” Hulya says, “She says she’s got ‘boy crazy’ in her genes. Her older sister, Angela? She just started college—somewhere in the south, maybe Georgia?—and apparently she’s dating an entire fraternity. Can you believe it?”

Yasaman opens her mouth to reply.

Before she can, Hulya jumps back in. “But not in a slutty way, for reals. I’m friends with Angela on Facebook, and she’s just as adorable as Chrissy and not skanky at all. Oh! But their aunt? She’s a pole dancer, Yaz. Can you believe it?”

Yasaman is slightly breathless just from listening to Hulya’s spew. “Um … you’re Facebook friends with a college girl?”

“Oh, on Facebook you’re friends with everybody,” Hulya says breezily.

This passage is from Lauren Myracle’s new book Luv Ya Bunches.

Last week, it was deemed so “inappropriate” by one school’s principal that he canceled her visit to the school.

He canceled. Her visit. To the school.

So, to recap: We have dozens of famous, influential people signing a petition that a man who raped a 13-year-old should go free, and we have someone who thinks 13-year-olds should not be allowed to meet the woman who wrote the above passage.

Which do you think does more to protect young people: keeping them away from the words “pole dancer,” or pursuing justice for the people who rape them?

(For more, check out Chasing Ray’s take, which ties these two things together more eloquently than I can when I’m too busy banging my head on things at the stupidity of the world.)


5 October, 2009

school tosses out 20,000 books, basically turns library into a starbucks


via a friend who is a librarian…

Cushing headmaster James Tracy explained that the library is the “nicest space on campus” and that bookshelves wasted precious space that could be put to better use. The library will be transformed into an interactive learning center, faculty lounge, with a $50,000 cyber café and $12,000 cappuccino machine.

“We are passionate bibliophiles,” he says, explaining that the move will give students access to millions of e-books. “Students can still go to Barnes & Noble if they want to be surrounded by books.”

:: New England Prep School Tosses Its Library Collection ::

Idiots. The library should be the nicest space on campus! Bookshelves are a waste of space?! Argh!


28 September, 2009
robot-heart-politics: thesmarttart:
U.S. Requests to Remove Books from Libraries, 2007-2009“[A]n interactive database that shows requests to have books removed from public and school libraries between 2007 and 2009. Here’s a screenshot showing all requests; at the website you can hover over each point and see what the book was, the basis of the challenge, and in many cases the result.”via Sociological Images


U.S. Requests to Remove Books from Libraries, 2007-2009
“[A]n interactive database that shows requests to have books removed from public and school libraries between 2007 and 2009. Here’s a screenshot showing all requests; at the website you can hover over each point and see what the book was, the basis of the challenge, and in many cases the result.”

via Sociological Images