October 1, 2012

Banned Books Week – Yeai Us? Not So Fast. Sandy Berman on Self-Censorship

Banned Books Week sometimes feels like National Library Week, in the sense that it is something that lets librarians shine a celebratory spotlight on our profession, since we are all about the freedom to read, always opposing small-minded censors. Feeling good about the heroic narrative at the core of our profession is a perk of the job.

And so is feeling good about the heroism of that symbol of librarianship the way we want it to be: Sanford Berman, activist librarian par excellence. But besides being a crusader for progressive values in the profession, Sandy Berman has also encouraged an attitude of self-criticism as a professional value. He has consistently found ways in which practicing librarians can be truer to our core values. I view that as part of the tradition of progressive librarianship that he helped found.

So, given all of that, I am happy to link to this article of his on self-censorship in libraries: “Inside Censorship.” It has appeared in different versions over the years in different places, because it is statement that it has always been important to him to reiterate. I recommend it as something to read about and think about during Banned Books Week, to counter some of the feel-goodism about librarians’ roles in combatting censorship that tends to dominate this time of year….

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