Freedom to Read

Freedom to Read… a simple phrase, but a complex topic.

I recently began my job at a local public library as the Branches and Collections Librarian. That latter part of my title infers that I am the go-to source for questions about the collection and, in turn, complaints.

Complaints are the inevitable part of any collection. Librarianship implies collecting information from any and all perspectives; what makes one person happy will make another discontent. The other day I experienced my first run in with this discontent about an item in our collection. We had a very upset patron complaining about indecency in our collection. Allure magazine published a celebrity photo shoot in their magazine in the May 2013 edition. In the photo shoot, four female celebrities posed nude, with carefully placed limbs to cover their private areas. Our patron was livid that we would allow this magazine to stay on our shelves. Children have the potential to see it if they decided to flip through the pages. The patron sought censorship of the magazine because of this photo shoot.

Censorship is a very real threat that libraries face on a daily basis. Challenges arise for a number of reasons such as moral, political or intellectual. Despite continuing challenges, our society is a strong proponent of the principle of intellectual freedom. Libraries are the gatekeepers for intellectual freedom, and it is our duty support and advocate for this freedom. People have a freedom to read, to express and view varying ideas. It is not up to any individual to hinder this freedom.

For my library’s collection we follow our Information_Resources_Development_and_Maintenance_Policy. This policy gives an in-depth look at where our collection focuses and how items are purchased. What is particularly important is that the policy outlines the key concepts of the library profession through the tenants of Freedom to Read and Freedom to View, as well as the Library Bill of Rights. Ultimately it is the library’s place to foster viewpoints for any number of places. Our policy simply states: “Widely diverse points of view, including controversial and unorthodox subjects, will be available in the collection.” Anyone can reject any particular item for themselves or for their own children, but may not hinder others rights.

However, on the other side of this, the patron has a right to question items in our collection as well. Our policy outlines the process for the review of materials. Formal conversation with the Assistant Director is the first step, followed by a written complaint, and then a review committee is formed of a Board member, the Assistant Director, and myself. The final step is an appeal of the committee’s decision to the Board. Fortunately, we have not had any complaints reach this level. For the most part complaints are informal and people object on a personal level but do not take it to the formal procedure. But complaints all over the country do make it this far on a regular basis and this is why we see Banned Book week in late September.

For the case of the Allure magazine our patron did not wish to take it further than a conversation with staff. The item remained on the shelf despite the request for its sequestration. Our policy is clear on this as well: “Responsibility for the reading, viewing and listening of children and young adults rests with their parents or legal guardians. Access is not restricted by the fact that children may obtain materials their parents consider objectionable.” While it is a great thing to have a clearly written policy on this topic, librarians should also be prepared for the complaints they will likely face in their career. Librarians are the guardians for Freedom to Read and need to hold this a sacred role.

Behind yet again…

Oh boy, so I’m quite behind in my updates. This is going to be quick and sweet here. I got the job. Yay! I’m officially a librarian 😀 I’m a happy camper. Beyond that, I’m finishing my semester and just finished up all of the papers I had to write. Next semester is my last and I’m quite nervous about the eport but I’ll take that one step at a time. Right now life is just so crazily hectic while I finished this semester and get ready to move. I start work in exactly 1 week. I’m leaving California on Monday— take 2 days to drive out there and then start work (with one day to spare in case of issues, but in reality it’s because I need to do stuff out there, namely: find a rental house, get Sophia the pup in daycare, etc.)

I really do hope to start my book reviews again soon. I’ve had a few that I’ve read recently that I just love. I read Gone Girl during my trip to South Dakota for the shadowing event and that was tremendously addictive. Just finished Game of Thrones too— yes I’m way behind the crowd. I downloaded Clash of Kings as an audio book off of Audible for the drive out to Rapid City—- 36 hour audiobook with 20 hours of driving. Not too bad! 

Alright, I’m off to submit my papers and then pack up this computer! See everyone on the flip side— aka halfway across the country next week woohoo!!

Interview

Interview happened today… I was nervous and technology issues (I could barely hear. How did that happen when I had a conference/meeting with my Connect2.U team the night before with no issues >_<)  exacerbated them. But I guess it went well… though I was supposed to hear back the end of this week/early next week I heard back within an hour! They want me to come in for the next stage: shadow event. Yay! I get to head back to Rapid City, SD. Been too many years and excited to visit there in spring now. 

More to come soon!

Small world!

It’s become apparent to me just how small our world is really becoming. I’m reminded of my trip to Russia and an outing to the Hermitage Museum had my friend and I stopped by security because he was so excited to see other Americans— and Northern Californians at that. That was fun. Well tonight I’ve had a similar experience…

Let me start out by saying that I’m in the process of interviewing for a librarian position at the Rapid City Public Library. I’ve been beyond ecstatic with my research on this library, and the city itself. A brief trip through the Black Hills a few years ago was an amazing experience and sparked an interest in extending my relocation dreams from the North West region through to Northern Midwest region. But my trip was too short! I can’t wait to get out there again. 

Now tonight at the hotel I have a guest check in from Rapid City so I thought, yay! I can make a bit of small talk with them about the region. I told them I was hoping to relocate out there myself. What a lovely sweet family they have! Everyone from their younger children to the parents were so kind. Well at the end of this rambling story is the fact that this family I checked in knows the library staff in Rapid City. The wife is a former Library Foundation Board member. Goodness gracious— small world! I hope to continue on in the interview process more so than ever!   

In other news, in one of my classes this semester we’ve been creating Learning 2.0 programs. My public library group is working with a library from Albany, NY (East Greenbush Community Library), and not only is this library very supportive in offering tons of incentives for their staff, but they’re now making our program eligible for Continuing Education credits. It’s so amazing to see projects done in the classroom setting being expanded into tangible, and of course useful, tools that library is using.

What a great semester this has been… I definitely have that kid in the candy store feeling. It’s crazy to think that my college experience is coming to and end this year. Good thing there’s so many options to continue learning (conferences, webinars, etc.) in the library community— I’ll feel very odd to not have classes for awhile I know!

Too Long!

Well I guess I haven’t felt like reviewing any books lately… oops! 

So far this semester is going off with a bang. Last semester of classes and of course it has to be insanely busy. I’m tremendously excited to be working with Michael Stephens in 281 (#transtech) creating a Learning 2.0 program. The program is exciting, my group is working with East Greenbush Library NY. Yay east-coasters! Anyways, I thought it was funny chatting with a coworker who previously graduated from SJSU SLIS in 2010 and she was tremendously jealous of me taking a class with Michael 😀 Other than that I have a Web Search class that’s taking all my time right now, I didn’t think this class would be this intense. But it’s a lot of work. Then a communications class. That was just more a “filler” class for me, but it’s actually terribly interesting at the same time. I think I’ll get a lot out of that class in the long run. Can’t wait. 

As for books, for the 100th time (not really—- really only the 3rd) I’m trying to read Game of Thrones. Now that I’m over 100 pages in I’ve gotten into it. Of course since I’ve checked it out via ebook from the library there’s no way I’m going to finish in time with all my classwork and work work, but I’ll try. Then to add myself on the wait list yet again. I’ve tried reading this 2 times prior, first time I couldn’t get into it and was too busy, second time again it was smack dab  in the middle of finals. I’ve also had my wait list name come up twice as well and I missed the 72 hour window to check it out. So I think it may be a miracle if I actually do finish this book. I certainly have a long going saga with it! I may try for the physical book next time, may be easier!

The Walking Dead: The Road to Woodbury by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga

Well who doesn’t love a good zombie novel? I’ve been a big fan of the whole series. I’ve read all the graphic novels to date, read the previous full-length novel, and of course am an avid watcher of the TV series. So of course when this book just came out I had to get my hands on it. Fortunately I have a friend more addicted than I am and she preorders all of the graphic novels and regular novels. I get my own little lending library for these for free—which is nice as my public library doesn’t own any 😦

Rating:

Summary: The zombie apocalypse is upon us. This book follows a group of survivors and their ordeals with trying to, well, survive! Lily Caul is the main character of these books, she’s a quiet girl who has issues with crippling fear. The group she’s with finds their way to the little town of Woodbury, GA. The town is run by a charismatic character, Philip Blake, or the “Governor.” The town seems all right on the surface but disturbing incidents soon creep up and the “Governor” is not all he seems to be. 

Review: I’m torn on the book. I really love the Walking Dead. I’ll give the book a 3 our 5 stars because I still like the storyline despite my problems with it. Seeing how I’ve read everything to date in the series I know exactly how the team writes and yet something is off with this one. 

I think this novel felt a bit rushed. Character development was few and far between and some of the characters just felt a little stereotypical. With that said I still liked the book. After reading some other reviews on GoodReads I was surprised to see that most people found this book shocking. I’m slightly confused on what’s so shocking in this novel though. Nothing happened that’s shocking unless the reader is completely unaware of all other installments of the series. What I’m most concerned with are the plot holes, many things were said and left unaddressed, especially near the end of the novel. I don’t want to mention for fear of spoilers. Do we have spoiler/blackout ability in WordPress here? That would be fun 🙂 Anyways, when things don’t make sense I tend to not like the book as well. So I’ll keep the rating at 3. Decent but could be so much better. I want my plot holes addressed… I’ll give them ’til next novel before I trash the writing!

Crossed by Allie Condie

Man I hate it when I forget to post a review for a book I’ve read. I had a couple months where I went without any posts and this trilogy was something I started back then. I loved Matched by Allie Condie and had been trying to get the time to read Crossed in. Well I finished this book sometime last week and yet alas no review.

One reason I desperately need these reviews is with so much personal and school reading done I tend to forget the details of the books I’ve read. Things have a tendency to blur together. Keeping track is a good way to keep things sorted, refresh your memory, and a great aid for Readers Advisory work in the future.

So I’m going to try and rehash my thoughts on this book despite it being a little old. I finished another book tonight that I’ll subsequently review after this.

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Rating:

Summary: In the sequel to Matched, Cassia is on the hunt for Ky. She has to struggle with her emotions of leaving her family, leaving Xander, and fighting against the society. In this novel she manages to find her way to the Outer Provinces and has a long hard journey to meet up with Ky once again. 

Review: Hmmm, well I don’t know what to say about this book after a week+ away from it. I may have had more interesting opinions back then, but though I can still remember the plot of course the book is kind of forgettable  I didn’t care for this book as much as I did Matched. But I didn’t hate it either. As GoodReads tells me “It was OK” by my 2 star rating.

The book had a frontier-esque style that was fun, but I kept wondering when the book would be over. I ceased caring about the characters as much and the fight against Society just wasn’t as interesting a phenomena. In a way this books seems like a much rehashed plot. Bad dystopian society with a rebellion on the outskirts and yet the rebellion may not be one to be trusted. For one thing this rings of the Hunger Games trilogy, though I wouldn’t be one to even say that Collins’ books are very original either… I think kids may enjoy it though. I almost want to label is as a juvenile book instead of YA as it is in my library. It just feels a bit juvenile. With that said I’ll be reading book 3 when it comes out. I still think Ky is a cool character, though I’ve lost interest in Cassia. Oh well, let’s hope onwards and forward for this plot line. 

I do want to note that I really like Book 1: Matched. I thought it was interesting, the characters relatable and likable, as well as some interesting twists on the dystopian society. I love the aging ideas as well as how the Society plays God when it comes to all aspects of their life (life, death, love, etc.)

The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

Well I was strolling through the library’s ebook collection on OverDrive, and I’m running out of things I want to read on there I think. I have yet to read a Nicholas Sparks book because I have to be in the mood for something that sappy I think. So alas the time came when I thought I’d give it a try.

Rating:

Summary: This story centers around Ronnie, a teenager (who in all summaries they call rebellious— I wouldn’t call her that, I’d say she’s pretty normal for a teen that’s just mad at her family), who has to stay for the summer with her father on the beach in North Carolina. Most kids may like this kind of a getaway. Who doesn’t want to spend the summer right on the beach? Except Ronnie is horribly mad at her father for leaving them and splitting up the family. The story moves through her time on this summer getaway and follows her as she gets in trouble with the law, monitors sea turtles, falls in love, and grows closer and closer with her father.

Review: I think reading this book came at a good time for me—- or at a bad time, whichever way you look at it. I had a lot going on in my personal life and was pretty emotional. Needless to say, as I’ve heard of most Nicholas Sparks books, this was a tearjerker. The entire last quarter of the book I was on and off in tears. It was really a good book. When I mentioned I was reading this book to friends, they all said “Ooh a sappy romance!” Yes, the book is about a teenage romance, and we all can relate to that in one way or another. But it was the family dynamics and the home life that really got to me and made me really like this book. Steve is a wonderful father, a kind of father I definitely wish I had (no I’m not dissing my father, I grew up sans one is all). He makes the most of this summer with the kids, and it’s a wonderful journey.

Unlike the last book I read I really believed all these characters. Each chapter was from a different perspective and Sparks does a good job in changing the voice of each of the characters, I believed them all— even the psychopath Marcus. I do think I’ll check out more Sparks books now— only if I’m in the mood to cry though!

Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls: Book 1) by Maggie Stiefvater

Well following my YA trend recently I decided to check out this well rated series. This was my first audiobook ever! I actually enjoyed it I have to admit. I began listening to this book while undergoing a root canal— it definitely was nice to distract me from the 1.5 hours I was in that chair! Overall I’d say the book was alright. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t dislike it either. I will be reading or listening (whichever copies become available first!) to the next book in the series at the very least.

Rating:

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, courtesy of Scholastic

Summary: Grace, a 17 year old girl with a neglected home-life, is entranced by the wolves that live in the woods behind her house. The story begins when Grace was attacked by these wolves, but was saved by a yellow-eyed wolf she immediately is taken with. Years go by and this wolf and her remain interested in one another, this is putting it lightly. Little does Grace know, these wolves are actually werewolves. After a series of events Grace and the yellow-eyed wolf, Sam, meet and fall deeply in love. This is the story of their fight to keep their life together as long as possible.

Review: I think my biggest issue with the book is the overuse of purple prose. It was very flowery and a lot of the dialog did not seem fitting for either Grace nor Sam. When I’m reading a book with a lot of dialog or internal narration I want to believe these characters are actually saying/thinking these things, not an outside writer. Other than that I did enjoy the overall story. I admit, I’m a bit of a sap lately. But goodness gracious Sam’s song and bits and pieces of lyrics were horrible. Keep you day job kiddo, you’re no musician haha. Anyways, like I said I did like the book alright. This is a good book for mature teens (as their is quite a bit of sexual tension in the book— but nothing too outright), and fans of this type of fantasy romance genre.