Local Librarians Speak Out On Book Banning - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

1/11/05 - Lufkin

Local Librarians Speak Out On Book Banning

by Stuart Burson

The banning of books is once again making news. This time it's a book that has already spent fifteen weeks on the New York Times best seller list.

The banning of certain books from school libraries is nothing new. But now eight public libraries in Mississippi are refusing to stock a book because of what they consider questionable material on its pages.

The popular bestseller "America: The Book" has its critics. Public libraries in Mississippi are upset over the book's nude depiction of the U.S. Supreme Court justices. The library director at Stephen F. Austin State University says banning a book solely on it's ideas is wrong, but for a book such as "America" things are a little different.

"That's a little different issue, because libraries do have to be careful about how they select materials, how they use the scarce funding they have available. And a book that's in poor taste and doesn't particularly add value to a library collection, maybe a difficult book for a library to justify buying." says SFA Library Director Al Cage.

Having every book that's published available for checkout sounds good but for some libraries it's just not possible.

"We do have very definite guidelines as to what we do buy. We look at the community that we serve, we look at the content, a lot of the books we get are donated to us, and even our donated books we still use that same guideline." says Terri Boomer, director of the Kurth Memorial Library in Lufkin.

But, Boomer believes banning a book because someone doesn't agree with what's inside is wrong.

"If an individual person in the community comes in and says 'I'm offended with this book', then they take away the right of another patron to read that book if they so choose."

The banning of books isn't something new. It goes as far back as 300 to 400 A.D. And some books on the banned list, may just surprise you.

"Throughout history, some of the books that we consider terribly important have been among the most banned. For example, the Bible is I believe the most banned book in history. And in the English language running a close second or third is of all things Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, which is disliked by lots of people in lots of places." says Cage.

Some literary classics like "Tom Sawyer" have been banned in the past because of racial depictions. But the classic tale was also once banned in the Soviet Union because of its depiction of class.

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