Librarians Fired From Keeping Graphic Novels from Young Patrons

I thought this was an odd article when I ran across it.  According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, two library employees were fired because they perpetually checked out a graphic novel to themselves to keep the item off the shelves.

The problem came when an eleven year old girl wanted to check out Alan Moore’s “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier” and placed a hold on the book.

The graphic novel in question was on the 2007 Time Magazine’s top graphic novels list, and has been acclaimed in literary circles. However, the two employees agreed that the book contained content that was too explicit for a child, specifically the drawings of sexual activity between adults.

When the library employees were asked to relinquish the book to the patron, they apparently refused and were subsequently fired for going against the library’s policy.  This set off a protest and community-wide discussion about censorship.

What I find interesting is how most of the perspectives of this story (& similar censorship issues) stop at the legal and constitutional levels.  Management only needs to determine if the employees follow policy.  If they don’t, they are fired.

But these reports often fail to delve into the ethical issues of censorship, and perhaps rightly so because ethical topics are a messy can of worms. What constitutes right and wrong?  Whose perspective does it take into account?  How does the community’s opinion come into play?  Should an individual’s ethics which goes along with a community trump a library’s collection development policy?  Should City Councils get involved?

Read more from the Lexington Herald-Leader and Neil Gaiman’s blog.

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About repplinger

John has served as a Reference Librarian at Willamette University since 2002. He is the liaison to the Science Departments, and is responsible for maintaining the collections related to the life & physical sciences. His research interests range over the entire spectrum of libraries and information sciences, but includes: - Google and its influence on information & society - The Internet's influence on information seeking & sharing behaviors - Trends of scholarly communication - Electronic learning environments - Traditional pedagogy - GIS use in academic libraries

Posted on December 8, 2009, in Censorship, Ethics, Libraries and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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