Sunday, November 25, 2012

Classic Christmas Poem is Edited

There is just one month until Christmas! With this in mind, this post focuses on a recent controversy regarding a newly published edited version of a Christmas classic: Twas the Night Before Christmas (also known as A Visit from St. Nicholas). In this “updated” version, Pamela McColl, an anti-smoking advocate, edited out all references to smoking included in the Clement C. Moore original. The National Post has published an article on the debate surrounding these changes. While McColl views the edited version as way to protect children, others have criticized the move as censorship. Ann Curry, Gail de Vos, and Alvin Schrader, all from the University of Alberta, have spoken out to oppose the changes and are quoted in the article. Although the version is controversial, the book is available through Indigo and

Gail de Vos has reviewed the book for the magazine CM: Canadian Review of Materials.  In this review, she describes exactly how the book has been edited. According to the jacket cover, Santa Claus himself edited out the two lines which reference smoking. In de Vos’ opinion, the changes are detrimental to the development of children’s critical thinking skills. For more information on the book, see the book review.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Censorship and Self-Censorship of “Fifty Shades of Grey”

The Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) recently added a blog post entitled Fifty Shades of Grey: Why Should We Care About a “Bad” Book?. Barbara Jones, the Executive Director of FTRF, discusses why we should resist attempts to ban materials that censors do not consider to have “literary quality.” The book “Fifty Shades of Grey” is used as an example in examining librarians’ professional values and practices as well as in thinking about the larger economic context. See the article for one librarian's thought-provoking view on book quality and censorship.

Barbara Jones has also written an article for the American Libraries Magazine on library self-censorship. Controversy in Fifty Shades of Grey discusses how collection development policies have been used by libraries to censor controversial material such as “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Though we are typically concerned with outside censorship, self-censorship is a related issue that we should reflect on as library and information professionals.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Plan for Internet Filter in Australia is Dropped

The Australian government has dropped plans to implement a nation-wide Internet filter according to the Sydney Morning Herald. A recent article outlines the history of the controversial plan and the action that will be taken in its place. The Internet filter began as an election promise and, according to the article, would have required Australian Internet service providers to block content on “child sexual abuse imagery, bestiality, sexual violence, detailed instruction in crime, violence or drug use and material that advocated terrorist activity” had it passed into law. The Australian government has instead opted to have the Internet service providers block individual websites related to child abuse.

Read the Sydney Morning Herald article or watch a related video for further information on the scrapped Internet filter plan.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Libraries & Hurricane Sandy

The Library Journal has published an article on how libraries in the path of Hurricane Sandy have been impacted by the superstorm. While part of the article discusses the damage to facilities and loss of power, much of the article speaks to the importance of libraries as open public spaces. According to author Sarah Bayliss, "[…] public libraries are unofficial but critical places of refuge for people during times of disaster." Libraries in New Jersey and New York have been providing the public with Internet access and a place to charge electronics. Many libraries have also added extra children’s programming and family movie viewings. The CEO of Queens Library has stated that staff members are on hand to "help people with any kind of FEMA applications and other services" that they may need in order to begin the recovery process.

In the aftermath of the superstorm, libraries have brought members of the community together. To find out more about how libraries have been affected by Hurricane Sandy, read the LJ article or view the School Library Journal's photo gallery.