Category Archives: Resources

A Wider Look at Frequently Challenged Materials (Banned Book Week Series #4)

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We stand for the freedom to read!

As librarians, we spend all day sharing information with our patrons. Therefore, it can be beneficial during this Banned Book Week to look back at some of the most challenged materials over a broader span of time than discussed in our previous post in this series about the materials challenged in 2015. I like to be very deliberate in seeking these books out to read, so I understand why there may be concerns, and so I am better prepared to discuss the content of a book in a challenge situation.

This is a list of the  100 most challenged books from 2000-2009, as complied by the ALA. Of course, a list like this can not be entirely accurate: many challenges go unreported, or may not rise to the level of a full challenge but still provide concerns for patrons. But it does give us some ideas about the types of materials that get challenged, and we can see some trends in consistently challenged books.

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling
2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman
9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
11. Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
12. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
13. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
14. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
15. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
16. Forever, by Judy Blume
17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
18. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
19. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
20. King and King, by Linda de Haan

And here is the ALA’s list of the 100 most challenged books from 1990-1999.  I am copying in the top 20 from each list; and when you click on the links you can see all 100. You will see several books that are consistently on the list, and several authors who write in areas of sensitive material and appear regularly on these lists.

  1. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
  2. Daddy’s Roommate, by Michael Willhoite
  3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
  4. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
  6. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
  7. Forever, by Judy Blume
  8. Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
  9. Heather Has Two Mommies, by Leslea Newman
  10. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
  11. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
  12. My Brother Sam is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
  13. It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris
  14. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  15. Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine
  16. A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck
  17. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
  18. Sex, by Madonna
  19. Earth’s Children (series), by Jean M. Auel
  20. The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson

Some of these books are not popular anymore, or too dated to be of interest to today’s school-aged readers. But some carry on as significant enough to continue reading. And many of the books in both lists appear there after some national publicity of challenges – which may have caused other challenges in other places to occur.

A troubling trend in book challenges, beyond just their existence, is the increased number of challenges over materials about diverse content  from the ALA, or books written by authors of color. Read through that second link, which is a blog post by Malinda Lo – one of the creators of the blog Diversity in YA. She looks at a lot of perspectives on publication of authors of color and books with diverse content, complete with charts to make her points visual. Although the authors have ceased contributing new content, looking back through their archives gives some interesting insights into this issue. Censorship, or book banning, is not always an overt process; and we will explore that topic further in the fifth post in our series this week.

As with everything we do in libraries, there is a lot to consider and a lot to balance. We serve the needs of our communities with their diverse interests and needs; and we also serve the library profession. A strong collection development policy, with a lot of discussion in the library among staff and with the community about rationale for different collection items, will be the best way to ensure communication happens when conflict occurs. You can not stop conflict, but you can plan for it and be ready to address it in a professional way.

Preparing for a Challenge (Banned Book Week series #3)

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Freedom to read is a core of our profession!

When a patron comes to your library, upset about a book or some of your materials – are you prepared with an answer? It can be hard for you to respond quickly unless you have a policy and are comfortable with the procedure for working with patrons who challenge your materials. Fortunately, in our profession, we have several resources available to help you to respond well to patrons!

As a profession, one of our core values is Intellectual Freedom. “We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.  ALA Policy Manual, B.9.16 (Old Number 54.16) ( ALA Code of Ethics, Article II)” We believe in providing information to the community, and letting them make choices about their consumption of it. In our Code of Ethics from the American Library Association, this same sentence is Statement Two. Our profession believes in protecting people’s right to choose material, not to restrict it.

Your library needs a policy for this issue, and also to have some training for everyone on their role in challenges. A patron may come to anyone in the building to start a challenge, so everyone needs to know how to either proceed with it or who to pass the patron to for better assistance.

All types of libraries can receive challenges to their materials, so everyone needs to be ready to respond in the best way. The ALA has a set of strategies here, for any library to use in preparing a policy and starting some staff training. There are good tips on effective communication styles, both for the patron in person and when dealing with the media.

It is important to take seriously the concerns community members bring to your attention. Creating and following a procedure can help to assure patrons that you are respecting their rights to share their opinions and to voice their concerns.

As you begin to write your policy, or to do the regular edits necessary for policies, you may find this information helpful from the ALA. They discuss some justification for having a policy, then help you to walk through the basic format of a policy with information you may want to include. Every library is different in focus and in the community it serves; so all policies will need to have different language and information to make them fit your needs.  If you have a challenge hearing, some steps on the procedure are given to be sure you are thinking through this process before a need for it arises.

While each library is different, it can be helpful for you to look at the policies other libraries have created. These are often included with their Collection Development polices, as potentially controversial materials are not collected just to be controversial, but because they are adding to the overall collection. Here is an example from the Pikes Peak Library District. This site gives you some specific information on collection development, including sample policies, for school libraries. And here is a Prezi presentation on reconsideration of library materials policies for school libraries. Here is a policy from the University of South Carolina; scroll down to the “Intellectual Freedom” section for the challenged material sample.

Part of your process may include education for your community on the rationale for including controversial materials in your collection. This is some material from the National Council of English Teachers, discussing some reasoning for teaching challenged materials. There are also other links on this page to give you some information and ideas about providing materials that may be challenged.

Handling a materials challenge can be hard: you want to do the right thing for the patron, for your library, and for the profession. It is a lot to balance! But you do not have to do it alone. The resources from the ALA are here, and there are more on these sites linked above. And the CMLE is available to help member libraries as you create and revise policies, or to help with training for your staff to help everyone feel more comfortable with this topic – and ready to handle challenges well!

Books in the spotlight

 

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Discover new books

 

Each month CMLE will highlight three books that have some factor in common. We hope they will give you ideas for your collection, or influence an activity, lesson plan, or display. 

This month, we share three different books that focus on people’s different abilities and skills. They can be used in your library or media center to teach about the importance of diversity and creativity.

black-book-of-colorsThe Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin (Author), Rosana Faria (Illustrator), Elisa Amado (Translator)
This unique book is created with all-black pages and cover, yet is about the many colors of the world. There are braille words above the text, and the accompanying pictures are raised for texture. In this post from Kids’ Books Review explains “It is the story of a blind boy, who describes colours as he hears, smells, tastes and feels them. Each turn of the page uncovers a beautiful description of a colour; for example, “Thomas says that yellow tastes like mustard, but is as soft as a baby chick’s feathers”.

  • Take a look at this article that features The Black Book of Colors along with nine other multicultural books from The Positive Classroom
  • Enjoy this reading of the The Black Book of Colors in the video below:

 

thenoisypaintboxThe Noisy Paintbox by Barb Rosenstock and Mary Grandpre
Goodreads gives the book this positive review: “In this exuberant celebration of creativity, Barb Rosenstock and Mary Grandpre tell the fascinating story of Vasily Kandinsky, one of the very first painters of abstract art. Throughout his life, Kandinsky experienced colors as sounds, and sounds as colors–and bold, groundbreaking works burst forth from his noisy paint box.”

  • Here’s a review from School Library Journal’s Classroom Bookshelf that includes classroom ideas and many related links.
  • Click here for a lesson plan for the book (for first grade instruction, but has instructions to find plans for other grades) that meets Common Core standards.
  • Check out popular Twitter and blog personality John Schu’s interview with author Barb Rosenstock. The interview includes two great videos that investigate synesthesia.

 

fish-in-a-tree-335x512Fish In A Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
The author’s website contains this summary of the novel: Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions. She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike.

Strategies to Simplify: Tip 2: Set your READY goals

“Work simply. Live fully.”  This week CMLE focuses on the following work productivity tip from Work Simply, Carson Tate’s popular book.  At CMLE, we’ve boiled down Tate’s wealth of knowledge from Work Simply to a few key points; please see the book for more detail and resources. At the bottom, see links to earlier tips in the series! Let’s all be our best selves….

This week’s activity: Set your READY goals and work to achieve them using your Productivity Style

In her book Work Simply, Carson Tate suggests setting goals in four main areas of your life: Professional, personal, health, and spiritual. Keep the acronym READY in mind – it is the first step of the READY, Aim, Fire method that will “not only assist you in getting very clear on your goals and priorities, but also ensure that you achieve those goals in the most efficient and effective way possible”

R – Realistic, E – Exciting, A – Action-oriented, D – Directive, Y – Yours.

Recently you discovered your Productivity Style with a simple assessment. Find your style to use these tips for fulfilling your READY goals:

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Work Simply

Find your Productivity Style for some personalized tips:

Prioritizer: When setting your goals, challenge yourself to look at the big picture – think about the action steps required over the next several months (instead of the next several weeks). It may help to keep in mind why this particular goal is important to you.

Planner: Similar to the Prioritizer, try to move your focus beyond short-term action steps, and focus on the big picture. Focus on what the final outcome is that you are hoping to achieve.

Arranger: While it’s helpful to keep in mind the people that are able to encourage you to meet your goals, don’t forget to also focus on how you will complete the actions required to achieve the goal.

Visualizer: Seeing the big picture comes naturally to you. Try to also think about who else needs to be involved in making your goals a reality.

Previous tips in this series

 

Continuing Education from CMLE!

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Learn new things!

At CMLE we take our commitment to providing our members with information and continuing professional training opportunities very seriously. We will continue to build on the courses and seminars we have offered, and hope to expand things for you. The library field is fast-moving and ever-changing; and we are here to help our members to keep their skills sharp, and to be able to better serve patrons’ needs.

We have set up a Continuing Education page on our site, with a Google calendar of all kinds of events that might be interesting to you. Most of these are offered as webinars, or online classes; and a few are in person seminars or conferences. Many are free, and some require payment. We will also include professional conferences, so you can keep up with the ideas being shared in your area of the library world. No individual person, or library, will be interested in all of these; but we will have a broad range of topics, to be sure you have all kinds of possibilities for building new skills and making yourself more valuable! And, seeing some of the things other libraries are discussing – even if you do not want to participate in the class – may give you some ideas about new things to try, or new people to contact to talk further about a topic.

We will also be offering regular continuing education programs through CMLE. We want to be sure our members have a chance to talk about topics of specific interest, or frustration; and to be able to gather and connect with their local colleagues. So, we will offer monthly training at the CMLE Headquarters, as well as streaming it through Go To Meeting for members to attend virtually.

To build on the training we will offer each month, we will offer additional material on our blog posts on the same topic. In October, our Topic Of The Month will be the broad subject of Hiring, including recruiting plans, succession plans, writing successful job ads, and motivating staff once they have been hired. In November, we will cover Advocacy. In that month, we will look at connecting with your funders, identifying stakeholders, writing an advocacy plan for your library, and provide templates for you to use to contact people to share your good library news. And in December, our monthly topic will be Stress Management. By the end of the year, and in such a busy season, we know everyone will need some tips on stress and relaxation, avoiding burnout at work, and ways to increase your professional satisfaction in your workplace.

Take a look around the calendar, and feel add it to your own Google calendar for easy viewing any time! (Just click the blue plus sign in the bottom right corner of the calendar.)

Do you have other suggestions for training? Email us! We always want to hear from our members!