This assignment allows you to demonstrate your mastery of the readings as well as prepare yourself for a situation that, unfortunately, reflects the reality in a number of libraries.

Student Learning Objectives Addressed

Instructions for Your Paper

The Scenario:

You have been on the job for just over six months at a public library. During your six-month probation period you have noticed something a bit strange about the collection. Certain very popular books are not in the collection. The first lacuna you noticed was that the library carries none of the Harry Potter books. This seems strange because the library plays host to many elementary, intermediate, and high school students—the prime audience for the Harry Potter books. Then you noticed that there were no books dealing with LGBT issues. You also noticed that some incredibly popular children's videos were not in the collection, despite almost daily requests for them. One day, when a patron came in looking for Walt Whitman's Leaves of grass and you saw that such a classic book was not in the collection, you asked an older librarian about this. Her response: "Someone complained." When you asked about the nature of the complaint, the reply was at first short: "Doesn't matter." When pressed to elaborate, she explained: "Whenever anyone complains about a book, the book is de-acquisitioned. That way the library continues to be funded. That's the way our director sees it."

As soon as your probation period was over and all the papers were signed to make you a permanent hire, you inquired as to whether your library has a written policy on responding to challenges. It does not.

You also learned from the other librarians that they are uncomfortable with the way the director is handling challenges. Many of them actually have strong beliefs in Intellectual Freedom. However, they just do not have the energy to do what might be needed to change the situation. They did say that they would support you if you are willing to do the research and propose that the library create a written set of procedures for handling requests to remove materials.

You decide to act. You will compose a formal request that the library create and adopt a written policy for handling challenges.

The Paper:

Keeping in mind that in this situation your proposal would become a public document and might end up being read by the Library Board of Directors, the first part of your paper should be an explanation of the importance to your library of having a written policy on how to respond to challenges received regarding library resources.

Then explain what should be included in a policy and why. Keep in mind that the Board of Directors may not be familiar with library terminology, so be sure to explain any acronyms or define any terms (like "monograph") you think they may not know. For example: "American Library Association (ALA)."

Finally, keeping in mind the various audiences that may read your document, talk about why Intellectual Freedom matters. Talk about the consequences—for your library, for your patrons, and for the community—of acceding to the demands of every person who complains about a book, a video, or a CD.

End your document with a respectful request that the library create and adopt a written policy for handling challenges. If you like, you may suggest who should be on the committee to draft such a policy and who should review it before it is finalized—not the names of people but their positions.

As always, be prepared to share your thoughts with the class.

As with your previous reflection papers, the text of this paper (excluding title page and "literature cited") should be at least three 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.

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