Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Who Decides What America Reads?...

Who Decides What America Reads?...Thankfully not Carmen Rockett. Mrs. Rockett is upset that libraries are not packed full of books supporting Creationism and Christianity.

Carmen Rockett states

77 percent of Americans consider themselves Christians. That means that 77 percent of the taxpayers in this country hold these Christian values. Library collections simply do not reflect the flavor of the American public, nor do they indicate that our tax dollars are being spent in a way with which we agree.

This simply isn't true. While I consider myself a Christian I believe in EVOLUTION and enjoy reading popular literature. I have no wish to read biographies of Christians like Fanny J. Crosby. The library is jammed packed with books I do want to read. Therefore my tax money is being spent in a way that I agree with. Carmen Rockett is foolish to assume that everyone who identifies themselves as Christian is only interested in the same literature she is.

Rockett goes on to ask "Should homeschooling parents today care?"

Frankly this isn't a homeschooling issue. Carmen Rockett apparently likes to make assumptions Mrs. Rockett assumes that all Christians share her taste in literature and that all homeschoolers are Christians. Nothing could be further from the truth. Homeschoolers are a diverse group with many different beliefs represented within the homeschooling community.

Libraries have limited resources not only to buy books but to shelve them. Therefore it is their duty to buy the books that the largest majority of patrons wish to read. Very few people would wish to read the books Mrs. Rockett wants to force on libraries. Thankfully she isn't in charge of deciding what I get to read.

Here are some tips for using your local library.

  • As Mrs. Rockett points out you can ask your librarian to order a particular book.
  • If a book you wish to read isn't available at your local library ask if they can do an Interlibary Loan.

At least Mrs. Rockett isn't advocating censoring the books that I wish to read, but by pushing them off the selves in favor of the books she prefers she would be narrowing my choices and the choices of many other taxpaying Americans.

11 comments:

Crimson Wife said...

I do have a problem with the way that my local library refuses to buy children's books unless they've been reviewed in certain publications like School Library Journal. I can see wanting to make sure that the books purchased are worthwhile, but in practice this means that suggested books with an explicitly Christian POV rarely get approved.

The solution to me seems simple- just add some reputable Christian publications like Christianity Today to the list of approved reviewers.

Alasandra said...

I checked out the School Library Journal and found this.........
Fresh Christian Fiction
This article originally appeared in SLJ�s Extra Helping. Sign up now!
-- School Library Journal, 8/31/2006
There are a handful of authors currently dominating the teenage Christian fiction shelves due to their prolific serial output—Melody Carlson, Robin Gunn Jones, Stephanie Perry Moore, Laura Peyton Roberts, and Martha Finley among them. For readers who may be growing tired of their favorite series, the following titles will provide some different voices in the genre.

Let us know your suggestions for more read-alikes like this.
http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6367063.html?q=Christian+

So I am not sure what your problem is as they do review Christian works.

Alasandra said...

I do realize that was for 2006, they did have more recent Christian works reviewed and a Librarian’s Guide to Developing Christian Fiction Collections for Children.

So I am not sure why you feel the School Library Journal wouldn't suffice? Perhaps it has more to do with whoever purchases the books for your library and less to do with the School Library Journal.

Crimson Wife said...

It's not fictional titles that I've had issues with getting denied by the library (they actually have a pretty good collection of Christian fiction) when I've suggested them but non-fictional ones.

I was disturbed by what I saw as a completely unbalanced collection of books on hot-button moral issues, so I requested some books representing the other side be added so that kids have the opportunity to be exposed to both. Nearly all of them were denied on the grounds that they had not been reviewed by any of the library's list of approved review publications.

Alasandra said...

I see ..........

Have you tried asking them to do an Interlibrary loan for the material.

I know this isn't exactly what you want. But if they can get it from another library (and I am betting they probably can) they will then have to admit that public libraries can and do order them.

I am lucky my librarians are very helpful and go out of their way to find me whatever I ask for.

Kris said...

I think the problem is the publisher pipeline rather than the library system. We noticed a woeful lack of Catholic children's books. I assumed that the library would not order such books because of their religious nature, and I was completely wrong.

They do, however, order from supply houses. Interstingly, the books our library is having trouble getting are the fabulous secular Edward Zaccaro math books and not the Catholic titles.

I have to say, though, that if I were a conservative Protestant that wanted to teach my children Creationism, I would be pretty upset at what was available, too.

I am very concerned about what Crimson Wife is saying since these types of books should be on the shelves if people request them. We make such a big deal about banned books while all along publishers and libraries are quietly censoring the shelves.

Alasandra said...

I am not sure it is libraries so much as publishers. My library has always been very helpful in obtaining any material I ask for, often through interlibrary loans. And of course a lot depends on the head librarian, so some libraries may be more helpful then others.

I do know purchasing books isn't as straight forward for libraries as it is for you and me. Like you said they order from a supply house to get the best price. So if the supply house doesn't carry it, they can't get it unless someone donates it to them.

Also books that are not checked out on a regular bases are eventually gotten rid of, to make room for more books.

And no one should expect libraries to provide textbooks for their children. It's not their job.

Alasandra said...

I should clarify my last remark. I know one homeschool Mom who made out a list of textbooks she wished to use for the school year and was very put out when 1.) The library didn't have the textbooks on the list and 2.) The library expected her to return the books on time so other patrons could use them.

When she was told the books they did have were overdue and she couldn't check anymore out until they were returned and the fines were paid she kept saying in a very loud voice 'I HOMESCHOOL I NEED THEM TILL THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR' and insisted that homeschoolers should be able to keep books as long as they "needed them" instead of following the rules.

Behavior like this makes all homeschoolers look bad. We need to understand that the rules apply to us as well as the non homeschooling patrons, and that it is not a public libraries job to provide the curriculum you wish to use to homeschool.

Sherry said...

Amen to Alasandra's original post and to the comments. Most libraries actually try really hard to please and serve everyone. And nowadays it's fairly easy to get almost any book you want through interlibrary loan.

Anonymous said...

Alasandra,

Your comments take exception with my wife's statistics but you do not offer any real stats to back up your claims. I was there during this time when we requested these books in numerous locations across the country. This was a good statistical sample that we both took together and represents reality, within this sample. Broad brush claims on your part do not make them true. You might very well have another experience but obviously the titles and content of the books we would like to see represented in the library as "alternative" viewpoints do not meet with your personal approval. In other words, as a simple example, you do not seem to think both sides of the evolution debate should be represented in our libraries, which is really the point of Carmen’s article. Simply put equal time and equal treatment of alternative views would really show that librarians really believe in the tolerance they hold dear. These are the facts!.

LT Bill Rockett
US Navy, Iraq

Alasandra said...

Exactly what statistics are you referring to the only statistic I reference is the one where your wife says 77% of Americans consider themselves Christians. I consider myself a Christian so I would be part of that 77% BUT I BELIVE IN EVOLUTION AND HAVE NO WISH TO READ THE SAME BOOKS AS YOUR WIFE.

As far the Evolution debate. Are we suppose to give the flying spaghetti monster equal time too? Do you want the Wiccan creation myth on library shelves? What about the Buddhist teaching about creation do you want them on library shelves? Before demanding equal time for religious beliefs; be very sure you really do want equal time for every religious belief.

Also considering the limited amount of space and money libraries have your demand would be very impractical. There is NO way libraries could give equal shelf space to every religious view.