Maus & Book Banning

Hey all – This is from last spring but this Twitter thread is absolutely compelling to me. Please take a look if you can. I think you all may encounter waves of book banning in your careers and it’s good to understand where this comes from.The Hyperlinked Library is all about participation and connections around ideas, knowledge and people. This example (and other recent book bans, etc) goes against everything this class is about.

16 thoughts on “Maus & Book Banning

  1. Cybele Garcia Kohel

    As a part-time public elementary school librarian, I am very glad that I haven’t had to deal with a book ban… yet. My saving grace? Because I don’t have a budget, no one pays much attention to the books I choose (which all come from Children’s librarian-approved lists and are age appropriate) because I raise the money myself with the PTA (and grants) to purchase them. However, I know that if one book is questioned, then there will be more scrutiny and the book-choosing will be taken out of my hands. In some ways, it is a blessing that I don’t have a budget, because I am making sure we have books that really relate to my student’s needs and identities. However, it would be better for my students if we had full-time librarians and decent budgets. They deserve a library that is open after school for them.

    1. Kelly Donivan

      I agree with you about public school libraries!! The elementary school district where I live has 19 schools and only ONE has a library that is open two days a week! There are NO librarians employed by the district. The local high school district nine schools with has libraries, but they are very underfunded with one staff member.
      These schools are “language-immersion” but also have kids who do not speak English and a lot of refugees from the Middle East who can speak their native language, but not read or write it. The worse part is that their parents are completely illiterate in their own language! One would think that this school district would have librarians, but they do not. Sad state of affairs.

  2. Kali Gifford

    Thank you for sharing this Dr. Stephens! First I have to say I love this graphic novel! Second, working for a public library system for 4 years I saw a lot of book challenges. Our system had a policy in place that anyone could fill out a form, either online or on paper and challenge an item. I had a few fill it out over the years, what I mostly saw though was people just wanted to complain. If I listened to them, and then offered the form, they usually wouldn’t make the effort to fill it out. Obviously, it wasn’t important enough to them to do the work. They just wanted me to take it off the shelf. Also, I always made a point of making a banned books display every year in celebration of banned books week. I was in charge of the displays at one of the branches I worked at, and since my background is in retail management and marketing, I really enjoyed it.

    1. Michael Stephens Post author

      @kalikunoichi you are spot on about the power of the book challenge form. The one we had at my public library asked the person making the complaint if they had read the book and what books would they suggest to take its place along similar themes. Most folks just took the form and never came back. The organized and concerted effort of a small group to plant these seeds of censorship in public libraries around the country really irks me.

  3. Kelly Donivan

    I worked in a school library for 13 years. This was a K-8 Catholic school. I made all book purchases and while I didn’t “ban” books, I did not place titles in the school library that did not follow the teachings of the Catechism. I only had one family who said anything and that was that they didn’t care for the Harry Potter series. Their kids just didn’t read those titles. My thoughts on the topic are simply that if you don’t like the book, don’t read it.
    When I was in public school as a student, if I didn’t like or want to read some title, I just advised the teacher that I was going to read something else and did so. I had teachers who “objected” but my mom and later me (as my own advocate) would tell the teacher to pick their battles. Life is too short to be upset over a book.

  4. Derek Taylor

    Hello all,

    Thank you, @michael calling attention to this issue

    Book banning and censorship are library issues that I feel strongly about. As Kelly @ceallach pointed out, “If you do not like the book, do not read it.” Outright book banning and censorship of school books, library, and textbooks included are not new, but the reasons behind them constantly change. Today’s perceived threats are LGBTQIA+ identities and Critical Race Theory. Even with these headline-grabbing issues, censorship can be more subtle, sometimes tricking the reader into thinking it is true by saying it is beyond your reading level or the content is sexually explicit and, therefore, dangerous. Even though school boards and concerned parents continue with their bannings, they overlook one giant aspect. Banning and censoring books leads to them being sought after more, and having a censored book in your possession is a form of rebellion.

    Reading books broadens one’s knowledge of the world and its people but can also challenge your ideas and views, which is a good thing. By challenging ourselves, we grow as individuals and put ourselves in a position to help others. In order to create a hyperlinked library environment, we must connect not only those who agree with us but also those whose views are different than ours.

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