The collection for children is performed from some consideration appears in the policy statement of each library. It may involve media specialists or children’s librarians and the community outside the library. In the school library it is done by the school board. Event though a collection policy is normally made as detailed as possible, the need to censor library materials may arise as a result of the community’s freedom to read and receive information.
This paper outlines the major functions and responsibilities of children’s libraries and the major issue involved in censorship, and proposes that the problem of controversial material should be solved by the formation of a committee.

by Widodo

Some of the overall objectives of library service to children by the school or public library are the improvement of verbal, visual and aural language, and the creation of a literate society with the ability to communicate. These suggest that some of the specific objectives of service to children are the satisfaction of children’s reading needs for pleasure and information; the fostering of participation in the educational process by providing books and other materials; and the satisfaction of adults being involved in story telling for their children. To meet these objectives children’s librarians should provide resources for a child who wants something to read or who needs a specific book or a piece of information; for the parent needing materials for the child and for his own related purposes; for the teacher requiring materials for teaching purposes and to supplement school-owned stock; and for the playgroup leader, the children’s clinic, special schools, hospitals, youth clubs, penal institutions, housing estate centers and the general community.
The primary function of a school library is to supply, enrich and contribute to the educational program of the school. Other functions are concerned with the development of literacy skills, in selecting of materials, instructing children in the use of media, and providing resources for recreational purposes. The children’s libraries should also support the development of the social, intellectual, and moral values of the students. The children’s librarian or school media specialist has a responsibility to provide a comprehensive and balanced collection catering to a wide variety of needs of a number of different users. Selection of suitable material is thus a primary responsibility.
Selection In Children’s Libraries
Selection of materials for the children’s libraries is a continuous process. No individual alone can perform the task of choosing materials for any level of reading ability, maturity, or interest to the full requirements of the school curriculum. It is a cooperative effort with consideration for and input received from all those concerned with the objectives of children’s libraries and their community. In other words, the content of what is bought is very important. The selection policy should address questions, such as : to what end is the stock being selected, for whom, by whom, what types of material, what level of materials, by which methods and with what selection provisions ?.
The teachers are in a position to know the content of the curriculum, individual abilities and levels of their students. Librarians keep a record of the library materials already in the library and have the responsibility of maintaining a balanced collection. They may also select materials supplementary to the curriculum as needed. The children may suggest titles related to their individual needs and interests, while parents may recommend materials for story telling or other purposes suitable for their children.
In selecting materials, librarians must consider that the children have the right to read. The librarians should acknowledge that they are becoming able to think critically as they read. It is the librarians’ and teachers’ responsibility to help them to develop ideas. The librarians, of course, are in a position to provide materials which benefit the community.
The children’s library may become a place of debate. The media specialist or children’s librarian and school boards may be challenged some administrators and citizens outside the school to argue or against a certain piece of material. It must be possible to decide whether or not the educational materials suit to the school curriculum.
The desire to censor children’s library arises from many factors, including the right to receive information and to speak, the large number of students now in school and the increasing amount of printed material for children. This situation has created a climate in which parents, other citizens and special interest groups are now wishing to have a say in monitoring the children’s librarians and teachers.
There are two categories of complaints concerning the appropriateness of some of the materials housed in children’s libraries. The first might be considered as routine – reassessment of specific non fiction material . It may be unsuitable because it is currently out of date or is no longer suited to the curriculum, or, doesn’t suit the selection criteria, e.g. : the level, bias, or accuracy is questioned.
Revaluation is a continuous process. Each item should be reviewed by whomever handles that item. It is as much the responsibility of students, teachers, and the library media specialists. The students are capable of judging if the material is helpful to them and if not, why not. The teachers, the media center staff and subject specialists can be most helpful in evaluating special areas within the collection. The library media specialists are responsible for reviewing the collection to see that it complies with the selection policy. This evaluation takes time and is sometimes difficult. However, it must be done regularly.
The second, arising from community complaints, are usually more complex and difficult to solve, being time consuming and costly, and involving a local coordination. The subject areas in which most challenges are made are sex, religion, race, drugs, vulgar/foul language, being either too radical, discriminatory and deviating from the school’s curriculum and goals. Unfortunately, some people tend to evaluate books and other materials based on personal values and prejudice; these may occur in the fiction collection.
Many librarians feel that it is their responsibility to lead the children to understand all aspects of their culture and society – the good and the bad – and should protect their freedom to read widely. In addition, the children’s librarians should have a genuine respect for members of their community who pay attention to the collection. This means that community members should concern themselves with the collection development policy of the children’s library. In the selection policy they may even – through an issue of censorship or as a result of freedom to read, freedom of choice in reading, freedom of speech, and intellectual freedom – nominate that a specific item shall or shall not be in the library for various reasons.
Handling Censorship
A preliminary step to prevent censorship of educational materials is the preparation of a written and detailed selection policy. As well, the community should be informed of such a policy and even have an opportunity to discuss it.
It is true that even though the collection development policy is agreed upon and considered as a complete and detailed document, complaints might still be raised. In such a case, the first step is to form a committee to hear and discuss such complaints. This committee could consist of one teacher, one library media specialist, three members of the community, and when the material questioned is at a school district library, one central administrator, three parents and three school students.
The children’s libraries should provide request forms for revaluation of learning resource centre materials. These forms should identify the complainant, the particular work in question, and the strengths and weaknesses of this work. The next information to be included is the statement that the complainant has read or seen the item in question, has consulted critical reviews of the item, and made a recommendation concerning this material. Each form, in addition, should also be signed by the complainant.
Secondly, when the presence of a particular item in the library has been challenged, an explanation should be given to the complainant: the selection procedures, the provisions used in selection, the selection policy, the criteria used, and the qualification of the selector. During the revaluation process, the item in question should not be removed from the shelves.
The next step is to distribute the matter to the revaluating committee along with copies of the material in question and relevant data including reviews. The date of the first committee meeting might be made public so that members of the community may have the opportunity to submit evidence or other opinions, and it is also possible to invite the complainant to the discussion. The decision of the committee can be sent to the superintendent for review and it is eventually given to the complainant. In addition, there should be a regulation – that a further revaluation of the material in question should not be undertaken for a given period, for example one or two years.


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