Friday, May 08, 2009

Gun Control?

A local library here in Westchester County, the Pelham Public Library, made news this week by calling the local high school when an 11th-grade student visited the library and asked for a book on gun carry and concealment laws. The student was interviewed by the police, who concluded that the student posed no danger and had broken no laws. The library refuses to explain the incident or its policies on notifying authorities about "questionable book choices."

This incident seems to me to violate American Library Association standards, including the "Library Bill of Rights," which calls on libraries to resist "abridgement of free expression and free access to ideas" and to "challenge censorship." It also violates the "Free Access to Libraries for Minors," which interprets the Library Bill of Rights to mean that minors should have "equal and equitable access to all library resources and services available to other users," and "The Freedom to Read Statement," which decries the fact that "[p]rivate groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label 'controversial' views, to distribute lists of 'objectionable' books or authors, and to purge libraries." I find it alarming that such an incident could occur in my own back yard.


Betsy McKenzie said...

My first reaction was like Marie's -- distress that the librarian would rat out the student to the police. But I thought about Columbine and other recent tragedies and I suppose that was what the librarian had in mind when he or she called the police to talk to the student. Still, it is distressing.

Johnny B said...

You're fooling yourselves if you don't think this is how school libraries operate. I was in high school in the 1980's and I fully expect that the same thing would have happened in my high school had someone asked for similar information. I never asked for that, but I had other run-ins/arguments with the librarians there. We all knew better than to ask school librarians for anything that might be seen as untoward. We found other sources.