Thursday, July 12, 2007

A curious kind of library challenge

Bookshelves of Doom recently covered the story of the woman in West Palm Beach Florida who challenged 80 books in her son's high school library. It's actually a fairly positive story according to this article, since the challenges were rebuffed initially and now on various appeals, but what I find really striking is how she went about finding books to challenge. No, she didn't stumble upon any of them in her son's school bag. Instead, she got geeky.
Lopez said the book challenges stemmed from a basic interest in the types of books in her sons' school libraries.

So, she went to the computerized card catalogue and typed in the keywords "homosexuality," "abortion" and "atheism." She was shocked by the dozens of titles that popped up.

Of course she hasn't read any of these books--and that's not uncommon--but the fact that she used the card catalog's keyword search functionality for the express purpose of finding stuff to remove from that very catalog strikes me as a particularly bizarre abuse of the library.

I'd also be really interested to know if she took the time to cull from her list any books that might have expressed viewpoints she agreed with on her three sacred subjects (or does she like to mix Stalinism with her fundamentalism by denying the existence of the topics entirely?).

I've been thinking about this for while today, and I wonder if it might be interesting for librarians to fight keywords with keywords, as it were. Why not do a book promotion (because promotion is the opposite of suppression) based on sets of keywords? We could even stick to the Bible. How about "peace, justice, and mercy" or "poverty, love, and forgiveness" to start? They're straight out of the Sermon on the Mount, after all . (Funny, I couldn't find the part where Jesus talks about homosexuality.)

1 comment:

Amy said...

excellent sausage. key word: thanks.