Banned/Challenged Books Panel [Part 2: Reflection]

As I mentioned in a previous post, we had our Banned/Challenged Books Panel last week. It was a huge success! Almost every seat in the room was full and we had a couple of people present on the online meeting space. We had enough pizza and pop and napkins! But, most importantly, our panelists had a wonderful discussion and expressed their passion and dedication for intellectual freedom in libraries.

I did some reading about moderating panels before this event, and I read about how sometimes there is a strange and uncomfortable and sometimes tense dynamic between the panelists. You can’t really control why or when this happens, but you have to be prepared for it. This kind of made me concerned. I kept thinking that I needed to be ready for anything, so I had lots of questions ready in case discussion was forced.

Fortunately, moderating the panel was unbelievably easy. The panelists fed off of each other, had great conversations — asking each other questions and also asking the audience questions. As the moderator, I encouraged them to talk about their experiences with banned/challenged materials and how important it is to have policies in libraries to protect the users and libraries.

— Some of the main points all of the panelists shared —

  • It’s a challenge to balance your feelings about controversial materials and your duty as a library staff-member. 
  • When a book is challenged (formally or informally) it is necessary to make sure everyone knows the process and procedures.
  • Usually parents or guardians who challenge materials have a specific, personal, emotional reason for doing so. (For example: a mother who grew up in a family of alcoholics may not want her children to read books that have alcoholism as a theme) When this happens, great care needs to be taken to not offend or hurt the person challenging the materials — but to focus, instead, on the challenge itself and the right to read whatever you choose. 

     Here is a link to the recording of the entire panel (it was about 75 minutes). You might have to have a UW NetID to log in, but if not, please enjoy!  Let me know your thoughts. Thanks!

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