Attempts to prevent access to materials are a continuing problem for information professionals. One method used to prohibit access is by the censorship of an individual book. In this project you select a book that has been the target of would-be censors. You read the book, research the author, and research the reasons for the attempts at censorship of the book. When your research is completed you write a paper giving those results. Then you present your research results to the class and lead the class in a discussion regarding the book and the efforts to censor it.

Student Learning Objectives Addressed

Instructions for Your Paper

Select from the list below a book that has been banned or that individuals, library administrations, or political regimes have sought to ban. The censorship history of each of these books is found in 120 banned books (2nd ed.) by Karolides et al. The sections of the book dealing with these banned works are available via Electronic Course Reserves for LIS 611.

(If you wish you may instead opt to choose a title from the Frequently Challenged Books list of banned books for the previous year. Please check with the instructor if you wish to follow this option.)

Check the class syllabus for the date on which the presentation regarding your chosen book has been scheduled.

Send an e-mail to your instructor informing her of your choice. If two or more students select the same book the one who sent the earliest e-mail will be assigned the book.


Provide a brief biographical sketch of the author(s) of the work. Include information about whether other works by the author(s) have been censored and the reason for such censorship. For example, was the author labeled a communist or communist sympathizer and thus blacklisted?

Give a short synopsis of the plot of the book you have chosen, giving emphasis to the plot elements that you feel are most important in conveying the ideas of the author(s).

What is the intended audience for the book?

What was your personal reaction to the book? Did you find it engaging? Well-written? Did you find it shocking? If so, in what way?

In your opinion which type(s) of libraries might find it appropriate to collect this book? Why would they collect the book?

How would you characterize the reasons for the objections to the book?

Give specific examples from the text that prompted the attempts to ban the book and why those examples were (and perhaps still are) considered offensive.

In addition to the overtly-stated objections to the book, might there be a hidden subtext to the objections? If so, what might that subtext be? The "Further Reading" citations in Karolides et al. may provide helpful resources for exploring this.

The text of your paper (excluding title page and "literature cited") should be at least seven pages, double-spaced. Citations are required. Please use the author-date method as described in Turabian. A helpful online resource for creating citations using Turabian is provided by the Long Island University B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library, available at: http://www2.liu.edu/cwis/cwp/library/workshop/citchi.htm.

Instructions for Your Presentation

The initial presentation should be a minimum of ten minutes long. This will be followed by a class discussion, which you will lead. Be sure to provide discussion questions for your audience.

Powerpoint slides can be helpful to the audience. Sometimes an audience member is having difficulty hearing what is being said but hesitates to ask the presenter to repeat what was just said. Having the name of the book and the name of the author on a slide will help. Also, including the text of your examples from the work will allow the audience to read along with you and refer back to the mental image of the text during the discussion period. Providing a handout with your Powerpoint slides is also helpful to your audience.

You may include a short video clip during your presentation.

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