To Censor or not to Censor – that is the question.

Second-hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack. Besides, in this random miscellaneous company we may rub against some complete stranger who will, with luck, turn into the best friend we have in the world.”

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

The Little Community Library in the parkland near my home continues to gain momentum. I put a call out for more children’s books at the beginning of the school holidays and the neighbourhood came good with DVDs, small toys, and colouring in sets as well as a variety of reading material.

Over the past weeks there has also been the donation of numerous LGBT Romance novels. Often they are sneakily hidden between the pages of other books.

Personally, I’m not offended, but as this communal Library is frequented by children of all ages who utilise the reserve with its playground equipment I have been taking these books out of circulation. Effectively I’ve played Censor. It doesn’t sit well but I have genuine concerns that if a 7 year old goes home with one of these novels a parent could go into meltdown. This could possibly result in the loss of this resource.

A friend has questioned my stance, given that I’m not so zealous with the plethora of religious books that are donated.

None of these books are tossed into the garbage bin. They are donated to an organisation where they can be better appreciated. The plethora of religious books are given two weeks on the shelves before they are removed. I think that’s generous.

Am I becoming a Book Nazi?

The National Archives in Canberra has updated its cafe with a new display on banned books. You can read about the secret history of Australian censorship as you sip your coffee. You can also examine a censor’s report or flip through a copy of a book or magazine once prohibited in Australia. This Cafe is going on my Must Do List For when I next visit the ACT.

16 thoughts on “To Censor or not to Censor – that is the question.

    1. My local libraries have always worked on the same principle. I remember notes going home to my parents requesting permission for certain books to be borrowed from the Primary School Library. However, ours has recently gone “high tech” ( read: reducing staff numbers) and you do your own scanning. This means that the gate keeper no longer exists.
      Have a beaut week.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. If you’ve ever read my blog, you will notice that on more than one occasion I’ve declared myself to be a virulent anti-censor. I’ve often said that you either believe in free speech or you don’t. I also have said that sentence ends with a PERIOD. If there’s a comma and a “but,” you’re a censor waiting to happen, you’re just waiting for the “right” reason.

    Having said that, I also have a strict definition of what censorship is, which is the the suppression of the creation of intellectual property, eliminating access to intellectual property, and/or the destruction thereof. You are doing none of those things; you are managing exposure and distribution, which is perfectly acceptable…and downright necessary. This is the very same reason why we put ratings on movies.

    Now, if you were tossing those books into a flaming trash barrel, then you would be a “Book Nazi.” But you aren’t; you’re actually getting to them a far more appropriate setting so they can be appreciated for what they are; appreciation being the proper melding of material and audience.

    In my opinion, you are doing absolutely the right thing.

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  2. Kevin Adams

    I get your dilemma, but J-Dub has it nailed. You’re fine.
    Perhaps it depends on the content of what’s being donated. Is it explicit, or simply the sort of stories where little Sally might have two mummies? The covers you’ve shown suggest the former, in which case the material is not suitable to be left where a child might access it. Really the people who are leaving these books should be self-censoring; they are presumably adults, and should recognise that they are being irresponsible in respect to children and unfair to the parents of said children.
    We have a similar scheme in our village here; I might sound out the local feeling about this potential issue.

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  3. Thought-provoking post! Brisbane City Council libraries do not ban books, they are readily available via Holds or inter-library loans, but are not displayed on the shelves. If a patron disapproves of a book on display, it is removed. Little Libraries are a whole new ball game and you are the umpire, blow that whistle if necessary 🙂

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