Sep 30, 2011

Confessions from a Book Challenge Part 2

Yesterday I had a guest post from Allison in Texas where she talks about her experiences when a book was challenged. If you missed that, you can catch it HERE.

If you are a librarian and have been through something similar, please feel to share in the comments section.

Jen from Ontario:

I remember when I was interviewing for the job I have now, that one of the questions I was asked was about how I would respond to being questioned or challenged on the material on our shelves. Coming from a customer service background my go-to answer had always been “the customer is always right”. But when it came to this I knew that wasn’t the right answer.
Showing understanding and listening to the “customer’s concerns” were important but I knew (I felt) that freedom of information, the right for everyone to choose was more important. 
This is the only book I’ve been officially challenged on. It (was) in our picture book section. The author and Illustrators are Canadian and have a popular children’s series. 

The parent who complained about this one wrote a 3 page letter about why she was so offended. The book is about a dog that eagerly awaits the mailman. He arrives and the dog devours him across the pages. It’s pretty graphic. But you can see on the front cover there is even a warning label. What shocked me was the parent talked about reading the entire book to her 4 year old. I would have thought that after realizing the material wasn’t preschool friendly she would have stopped. We contacted her, and listened to her concerns again; but explained that the book would not be removed from the library. We did however relocate the book to a different section. 
Challenges don’t happen very often but if they do we have an online form on our library website where we can direct customers to fill it out if they concerns. It’s called a “Material Re-Consideration” form. After it’s filled out, it goes to whichever department the book is housed in. The head of that department calls the customer and listens to their concerns and then explains our “intellectual freedom” policy.  
You can read that policy here:

Thank you, Jen for for sharing your experience with us!