A Statewide Survey of Censorship and Intellectual Freedom

By Monks, Kathleen M.; Gaines, Anne M. et al. | Library Philosophy and Practice, February 2014 | Go to article overview

A Statewide Survey of Censorship and Intellectual Freedom


Monks, Kathleen M., Gaines, Anne M., Marineau, Caitlin A., Library Philosophy and Practice


Every September, libraries, bookstores, publishers, and book lovers across the country observe Banned Books Week. The annual celebration of the freedom to read raises awareness of censorship in libraries with events, displays, and social media campaigns that highlight the most commonly challenged titles of the previous year as well as historical challenges. Data compiled by the American Library Association (ALA) and the Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) are used to create helpful lists of frequently challenged books and the reasons for the challenges. According to the ALA, there were 464 reported challenges in 2012 (Banned Books Week, 2013), but the ALA estimates that as many as 80% of challenges go unreported (Office for Intellectual Freedom for the American Library Association, 2010). This raises the question: what are the policies and practices of librarians regarding challenges in our own state?

Following this line of inquiry led to further interest in and exploration of the topics of challenges and, more broadly, censorship. As our research progressed, questions such as how often challenges to library materials occur, and when and how those challenges are made public emerged and expanded our scope. Through this study we have gathered a foundational understanding of censorship practices in the state of Idaho, with some revealing data on the rate of disclosure.

Background

General history of censorship

The attitude of librarians toward censorship of library materials has changed much since the beginnings of professional American librarianship in the late nineteenth century. Early on librarians were advocates for censorship (Robbins, 1996) and encouraged a very selective acquisition of materials in library collections. The favoring of censorship and strict selection wavered over time, but it was not until 1939 that the ALA adopted its first Library Bill of Rights. This document outlined what would become the hallmark policy statement on intellectual freedom involving library materials (Office for Intellectual Freedom for the American Library Association, 2010). With the creation of the Intellectual Freedom Committee in 1948, librarians began to advocate neutrality and impartiality in book selection (Robbins, 1996). The history of censorship and the library profession is long and detailed, and for more information we recommend Geller's Forbidden Books in American Public Libraries and Robbins' Censorship and the American Library.

History of Censorship in Idaho

We chose to focus on the state of Idaho for our survey due to our residence in the state, but also because of the apparent lack of data of this kind in a state-focused manner. Historic background for this study can be found in Eli M. Oboler's research on censorship. Oboler, a strong advocate of intellectual freedom in libraries, was the head librarian at Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho from 1949-1980 and was active in professional organizations, including serving as president of the Idaho Library Association (ILA) (1950-1953) and the Pacific Northwest Library Association (PNLA) (1955-1956), as well as vice president of the Freedom to Read Foundation (1979-1980) (ISU, 2013). A prolific author, Oboler published over two-hundred articles and books. The ALA presents a biennial eponymous award, the Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award, to the best published work related to intellectual freedom.

In one 1962 study, Oboler surveyed Idaho librarians on the theoretical actions they would take if the school board ordered them to remove Catcher in the Rye from the collection. Oboler found that the survey responses indicated "laudable courage and strength among Idaho school librarians" who "know how to combat censorship and are prepared to do so, in a professional and constructive and tactful and cooperative way" (1980). In other writings, Oboler discusses pornography and obscenity laws in Idaho, the struggle to maintain First Amendment rights, book selection for young adults, and the history of censorship, especially in relation to human sexuality. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

A Statewide Survey of Censorship and Intellectual Freedom
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.