Sunday, February 12, 2017

Librarians Admit Banned Books Week Is a Hoax, Bash Trump and Breitbart, Then Censor It All

Gregg Whitmore:
Thoughts? Seems wrong to me on numerous levels...

Library Bans 'Clinton Cash: A Graphic Novel' from Its Shelves
A Florida library denied a woman's request to put a New York Times bestselling graphic novel that criticizes Hillary Clinton on its shelves.
Andy Woodworth: Yeah, linking Breitbart on the Think Tank is never a great move.
Andy Woodworth: Edit: The only reviews I see are on Goodreads and Amazon. A quick check of the library's website shows that they own it as a book, audiobook, paperback, OD eBook, and OD audiobook.
The library isn't wrong to say that they have plenty of copies of that book and in multiple formats; that's certainly true. Whether it should be added as a graphic novel for a book that is already a year old is pretty up in the air. I'm not sure what it adds to the collection other than yet another format for the same material. Personally, I'd add it but only because we have the space. Otherwise, I wouldn't.
Crissy Hensley: The local news version adds that the library has accepted 35 out of 39 of the patron's suggestions in the last 2 years. I wonder if she complained about the other refusals to this extent...
Philip Levie: Or anywhere. Ever.
Terry Moore: “We want all the books on the shelves. We want the people to make the decision,” Lhota told WUFT-TV. She wants "all the books" on the shelf. Will she vote for a bond to expand the library to the size of the Western US? Not having every book on the shelf is not censorship, it's Collection Development.
Richard Sandstrom: If she was the only person requesting it, no matter what it is, most libraries will say no. It is a matter of limited space, limited budget, and demand. The standard here is to offer to interlibrary loan it to her from a library that does have it.
Michelle Eisele: In this case, the article says she offered to purchase it and donate it to the library and they have said they will refuse to shelve it. On the other hand, it does appear that they have it in 11 other formats, so I can see why they could say no. It's not exactly censorship to not want to shelve the graphic novel version of a book they have that many formats. It does seem a little petty to refuse a donation. I can honestly see both sides of this issue.
Jill Grunenwald: Michelle Eisele donations are not free. They still cost staff time and resources to process.
Richard Sandstrom: Looking into it further, the graphic novel seems popular and based on the statistics I looked up on the county, the library should have a copy. There are several copies of Clinton Cash the book and they seem to be circulating well. Depending on the policy the library may not be able to accept the book, but it is surprising that I do not see it in the catalog. But, that does not mean it hasn't been ordered and I know nothing of the library's internal structure and policies that really do have more to do with this situation than the book itself.
Megan Esseltine Hathaway: Michelle Eisele Donating a book does not give a patron decision-making power over a collection. If the library refuses to buy it for reasons other than cost, denying the request to accept a donation makes sense. We do nto accept donations that come with such stipulations-they are given to the Friends book shop (from which we can snag items for the shelves) or the patron can keep their book and hope we see value in buying the item.
Michelle Eisele: I'm not purely advocating for the patron, I said I could see BOTH sides of the issue.
Nicole Renée Gustavsen: Interesting choice of the term "banned" in the title when the lede clearly indicates something different.
Andy Woodworth: Didn't buy it in all available formats, therefore BANNED
Diane Lapsley: Nothing draws an eye like "banned,' except maybe "aliens."
JP Porcaro: lol breit bart
John Sandstrom: Hopefully the library has a collection development policy in place that justifies their decision.
JP Porcaro: i dont even think you need a policy - librarians are obsessed with policy - a simple "we don't have space for everything" will suffice - policy or no policy doesn't prevent misleading briet bart articles like this
Andy Woodworth: Yes, you do need a policy. You need something you can show people (new staff, stakeholders, community, whatever) that says "here's how we decide things". If you say "we don't have space" and don't have a document that backs you up, it makes you look like you just made it up.
Shawn Bliss: I'm with Andy on this one. Carefully crafted policy is the CYA gift that never stops giving. Especially for public libraries.
Sally Breedlove: Yes, a policy is in place for any decline to purchase
John Pappas: A policy will back up your decisions when breitbart attacks!
Sarah Dentan: Declining to add =/= "banning".
Tim Spalding: I hold no brief for this book whatsoever—the point is general—but this sort of argument falls apart, at least at the margins. Consider a bright-line case, the history of South African public libraries systematically declining to buy popular, well-known and much-praised books by black people, or that might seem to undermine Apartheid, even if they had not been explicitly sanctioned by the government. None of us would shrink from saying that they had "banned" them. None of us would say "Not adding isn't banning!" or "But they had collection- development policy!"
Gregg Whitmore: Admittedly I'm not familiar with Breitbart , which might be part of the issue. And a good CD policy, multiple formats, money and space are always issues. Having a colleague in Mississippi that has to deal with outside politics constantly thwarting her ideas gave me pause when I read this . As a medical librarian, politics rarely plays a part in my CD policy, but I'm always interested to see what issues other librarians are facing. Thanks all!
David Rachlin: Brietbart is a conspiracy spewing tea party mouthpiece that routinely publishes inflammatory headlines that mask the true story. They purposely try to rile up conservatives with non-stories to take their minds of the real issues in the world.
John Ward Beekman: And the editor is now a major manager of a presidential campaign. No points for guessing which one.
Terry Moore: Pssst, it's the racist one.
Janet Genchur Lukas: I once had a director take the swiftboating book on John Kerry off the shelves. He asked me where it came from and I answered that it was a donation. He opened the front door and tossed the book out the door. "it's missing."
Moni Rae: Wow.
John Jack: That is appalling.
Ben Kenobii: Sounds more like a collection issue than a political one, huge beat up
Alma Chavarria: So you all know Breitbart is a xenophobic, misogynistic, racist website from the alt-right. Right?
Edward Pellaeon: Possibly two things going on here. They have the books but they're all checked out or someone is going out of their way to not shelve them. Most likely the former. With enough attention now, we'll see more copies once county and library board get media pressure despite any policies currently in place.
Sally Breedlove: I work at this library. Suffice to say there is a lot more to this story. Also we didn't ban it.
Michelle Eisele: Can you share what's more to the story? Because while I was reading the article I definitely had that thought, we're obviously missing a lot here.
Brittany Turner: Michelle Eisele probably better that she not. May not be authorized to speak on behalf of the library, and probably better that she not open her personal Facebook account up to public records requests (which may have already happened with this post).
Michelle Eisele: I totally understand if she's not able to share, but I'm curious so I just thought I would ask!
Brittany Turner: Michelle Eisele agree... I'm assuming there will be more to come in the media, or on the library's Facebook page if they have one
Sally Breedlove: I'm the Facebook person for my library. We've already gotten people commenting, but I don't work outside of reg. hours. I can't say more, but if this were happening to your library you would know there was a lot of backstory.
Gregg Whitmore: Thanks for the insight, Sally. Much appreciated!
Emily Whitmire Sluder: I wouldn't add it just because there would not be much circulation of it, and interest would wane more quickly than say, most other graphic novels.
Glynn Dowrgeun: Right, we have just a few weeks until the election.
Erik Wilkinson: Assume much Emily Whitmire Sluder?
Emily Whitmire Sluder: Haha!!!! I know you're joking! Our adults requesting the Clinton cash book would not want to read the graphic novel. You should have seen the uproar when Janet Evanovich had a graphic novel come out. "You mean it's not a real book?!" And our graphic novel fans usually stick to Walking Dead, game of thrones, um yeah... Clientele differences. Not to say other adults wouldn't like it or current gn fans wouldn't like it. There just aren't enough to justify! Plus to me it is like all the other political books about candidates. Interest wanes.
Glynn Dowrgeun: That's not "banning'. That's "declining". A responsible journalist would learn that librarians have to decline crackpot offers of additions to the library all the time. And noncrackpot offers too. Breitbart is, of course, mischaracterizing for maximum sensational effect.
Philip Levie: Breitbart just got shared on my fb. This is one strike towards me unfollowing the Think Tank.
Johna Von Behrens: "have even offered to pay for the book and donate it to the library." I dont see the issue here??
Brittany Turner: I have never heard of a library system that adds every donated item to a collection. Collection development policies exist and for good reason.
Alma Chavarria: We have a process that includes reading reviews from professional publications, input from librarians and collection development staff, and consideration on whether a book fits in our collection. Few books get a pass without going through all the steps.
Mike Cendejas: I used to work at a small bible college (sub-50 students) and their policy was to accept any donations from pastors and bump them to the head of the line for cataloging. We had 19 copies of the first Left Behind book. All cataloged and on the shelf.
Mara Connolly: That does not sound like a good use of shelf space!
Lara Faekitty: Depends on the quality of the book and demand.
Philip Levie: Audiobook on CD, Ebook, Print, AND E-Audiobook available. The librarians thought there would not be demand in GN format beyond this one very squeaky wheel. Move along, non-issue.
Lisa Eichholtz: Libraries can't buy everything requested and not adding something to the collection isn't banning it.
Ann Clare LeZotte: A local article with a bit more information.
Libraries’ Denial Of Anti-Clinton Book Draws Frustration
In mid-August, Ann Lhota, a Newberry resident, requested that the Alachua County Library District purchase “Clinton Cash: A Graphic Novel,
Wanda Mae Huffaker: I think I might have thought to myself: " It's a political year. Perhaps, I can find a little room for a display and display every political related book I can. I think I can get it, and every format, every Trump book, every voting book...everything and see if we can get circ up. It might not sit on the shelves. THEN, next year, when interest is down, we will reevaluate what our needs are. It's a win/win, and nobody calls the press".
Nishan Stepak: If the decision is based on a disapproval of the ideas expressed and desire to keep those ideas away from public access then it fits the definition of censorship.
Jill Grunenwald: But that's not what is happening here. They already own the same book in multiple formats.
Nishan Stepak: A graphic novel is a different style of presentation than a book. Visual narrative and storyboards have a different process of creation than novels. A graphic novel is much closer to a film than a book. The process of creation is different. A writer of novels for the most part cannot create the visual imagery in a comic or graphic novel. The content is significantly different because of the images.
Megan Esseltine Hathaway: The audience for standard print vs. graphic novel are not the same audience. I would probably not purchase it for my collection, either, without a patron request (I don't get a ton, and am in a position to say yes to most of them).
Breitbart News’ Worst Headlines
Media Matters looks back at the some of Breitbart News’ most outrageous and over-the-top headlines during...
Erik Wilkinson: I agree that Breitbart is a shill for Trump, however it's also important to note that MMfA is a pro-Hillary organ (in fact she was one of its founders).
Alma Chavarria: What say we look at the fine authoritative source that Breitbart is and ponder whether this site should be instrumental in collection development decisions. Hm?
Diane Lapsley: Sure hope they circ a copy of "The Art of the Deal" or there'll be all sorts of hell....
Nitko Odvaseg Poslovanja: If they have 11 copies in the catalog and they're not on the shelf, then they're all checked out.
Nitko Odvaseg Poslovanja: Yeah. That library system has multiple copies of that book currently available for checkout.
Jack Baur: They don't have the graphic novel.
Erik Wilkinson: I remember my public library carrying a a pro-Obama graphic novel back in 2008 so I do not see the harm in providing a timely and relevant one that may be critical of the Clintons. After all, a good library should have something to offend everyone. And as a personal aside, I think that as librarians we should further encourage the publishing of dense, complicated topics in GN format; it serves the public well.
John Ward Beekman: this line from the better-sourced news story makes a troubling point: "After the denial, the library district purchased “A Child’s First Book of Trump,” a satirical picture book that mocks Clinton’s Republican opponent, Donald Trump, Lhota said."
Erik Wilkinson: *sigh...*
Harriet Bedell: "better-sourced"?
John Ward Beekman: WUFT, a public radio station, vs. Breitbart
Harriet Bedell: ok, bc public radio isn't liberally leaning at all. Very subjective. At first I thought WUFT was you trying to cuss me out! lol
John Ward Beekman: liberal "leaning" perhaps, but with that outmoded sense of propriety and commitment to at least attempt objectivity, vs. an avowedly partisan mission.
Tim Spalding: One thing I'd get into a collection-development policy: "We may add fewer hot political books than people expect." Because books like that seldom retain interest over the long term.
Jen Crouse: Just searched catalog. No longer appears to be there. Odd.
Jack Baur: It doesn't sound like the ever had the graphic novel -- they said that having the audiobook, ebook, hardcover, and movie was enough.
Jen Crouse: Did you search the catalog?
Tim Spalding: Final comment:
This is Breitbart bull. But I'd be very interested in a systematic analysis of political bias in library collections. (One could compare similar, but politically differing titles that sold equally across library collections. One could also look at holdings- vs-check-out ratios. There are lots of ways.) My gut tells me bias happens, and that it differs in both direction and magnitude in different places. And while I understand the various defenses, a significant systematic mismatch between patron demand and library holdings--all other things being equal--should be a concern.
Jack Baur: If they've got multiple patron requests and people offering to provide copies of the book, I would say they are quickly running out of legitimate reasons to have it, unless they can fall back on a plurality of professional reviews.
Tim Spalding: Library collections are a planned, intentional, curated thing. You can't have a library filled with conservative titles because local conservatives donate books any more than you can have a library filled with liberal titles because liberals donate them.
JP Porcaro: Tim Spalding yea, tim is right re: curation.
as an aside, conservative think tanks spend huge money buying up books by talk radio folks and the like - which in turn, rises them up on the NY time best seller charts - which makes it *seem* at first glance like a legit reason to buy those books. without someone curating the collection (aka, just letting your collection be steered by donations, ofr the ny times list, or the whim of the few folks who fill out book requests). I don't see demand by a few folks as a legit reason to include the book.
JP Porcaro: this is also the reason why I dont include any of the DOZENS of great-looking hard-cover titles that we are constantly getting shipped here, unsolicited, from L. Ron Hubbard's folks. One or two books is enough.
Tim Spalding: JP: There's truth to that, but popularity manipulation is hardly restricted to right-wing outlets. (It's gotten to the point where, if a book is called an "Amazon bestseller," you should *expect* it was so for a day or less. The algorithm is absurdly sensitive to spikes, and, if you time your purchases right, you can make it spike for very little.)
FWIW, even if nobody you or I know would read it, Clinton Cash is no small book.
JP Porcaro: Tim Spalding even a big book isnt necessarily right for every, or even "the average", collection is what im saying- maybe i should have left politics out. i dont trust the 'charts' at all, for sure.
Tim Spalding: JP Porcaro There's no real way to dispute an individual case. It's too mired in empirical questions none of us can really solve. The larger, philosophical question is worth it, however. And, as I've said, I'd love to see a systematic "big data" analysis of political bias in libraries.
(Between the commercial and the library holdings data at my company, I've got more than enough to do that. But, fun as it would be—I *live* for what's now called "big data" analysis—I can't mine my customers' data for that sort of thing.)
Tim Spalding: Aside: I once did such an analysis of LibraryThing users' libraries--picking a dozen paradigmatic "red" and "blue" titles, and then inferring the red- or blue-ness of millions of other titles, as well as of the members collections. The red/blue divide is very real in bookland—most people's collections lined up neatly on one side. I never pushed it live because, well, that sort of thing, even if only seen by you, can get into people's noses like pepper. I envy OKCupid's data team.
JP Porcaro: Tim Spalding that is truly interesting!!! fictional title divides? red folks reading some fiction while blue folks read another?
Tim Spalding: Right. This is unexpected?
JP Porcaro: Tim Spalding not unexpected as much as unrealized. we - myself included - like to live in our little enlightened bubbles.
Tim Spalding: The effect is very strong. I remember early on noticing that "people who like The Mists of Avalon like Our Bodies Ourselves." On one level, it was silly—people don't expect recommendations to cross the fiction/non-fiction divide, unless the subject matter is identical. On another level, I'd seen the two rubbing shoulders on half the bookshelves of my Cambridge, Massachusetts childhood.
Jack Baur: Also I'm really disappointed in Chuck Dixon right now.
Jan Arrah: Why? If we're talking about the same CHuck Dixon, comic book writer, his political beliefs have been well known for decades. It's one of the reasons people threw a fit when he was picked to write the Grifter/Midnighter series several years ago.
JP Porcaro: as a related issue here: this is partially librarianship's fault. as long as we are out there banging the "banned book!!" drum for books that actually arent "banned" and are widely available everywhere, this is what we get. We get other people bending the definition of a banned book just as we ourselves bend it.
Michelle Eisele: That's a very interesting point. We understand the difference, but they might not always get it.
JP Porcaro: Michelle Eisele in this case, they might actually be even closer to the REAL definition of a banned book than librarians use - our banned books are available in libraries, this book isnt.
Tim Spalding: I think there's an excellent case against stocking this book. But your point is also where I get off the bus. Things seems to boil down as follows: Something is banned ("banned and challenged," but "banned" for public purposes) if a cranky private citizen writes a comment card against an available book, and the library staff appropriately do nothing whatsoever about it. But nothing that trained librarians do in the field of acquisition and weeding, although government employees, can ever quality for a spot on the banned-and-challenged continuum.
JP Porcaro: Tim Spalding I think we are saying the same thing? We librarians call it a "banned" book if we decided it should be there against the wishes of a one/a few people, but we'd never dare call it a "banned" book if we ourselves decided it shouldn't be on the shelves? 
JP Porcaro: which, btw, is my big issue with banned books week.
Michelle Eisele: I actually do think you guys are making the same point.
Tim Spalding: Right. We are. I'm just saying it in a lot more words.
JP Porcaro: oh ha sorry when you said "get off the bus" i thought you meant we weren't saying the same thing
Tim Spalding: Bus, not train. The "librarian common wisdom bus" or something.
Also the way ALA's list is presented as real, verifiable and statistical data, but is really an impressionistic marketing tool. I found that episode very depressing. There are few topics I care more about than freedom of expression, so statistical and methodological sloppiness here steams me up.
Wanda Mae Huffaker: We will never report on ourselves anyway, because we justify everything we do so that we are never wrong. Thus the reason we aren't reported to OIF.
Jan Arrah: I'd just like to point out that despite what people seem to think, Breitbart is not alone in the idea of misleading headlines (though theirs is very specific and only talking about the graphic novel..) and yes they used a sensational headline.. but so has every single news outlet I've ever seen and they often have a headline that is COMPLETELY different than the story inside all to manipulate people on the headline alone.
And yes, I think this is a misleading headline.. but then again we do over use the word ban in our society and as JP Porcaro pointed out.. it no longer means what we think it means. I remember not that long ago people getting very annoyed with me for pointing out an anti-gun ad that stated that Little Red Riding Hood was banned in America, but guns weren't that it wasn't accurate.. and people happily stood by banned in THAT case.. (though someone did make a more accurate ad..)

Source of the above, started 20 November 2016:

Source of archival copy, collected 25 November 2016:
(where ALATT = ALA Think Tank)
The archival copy shows all the typical Facebook graphics, notations, and indentations that I removed from my republication above for readability/searchability reasons.

I know of no other source for this post/document that the ALA people censored.  I'm happy to resurrect it and make it available for public discussion.

As stated, the above discussion has been censored from the ALA Think Group public Facebook group.  It now appears as follows—note the statement in the lower left (and the "revolution" graphic of the Black Lives Matters hate group that ALA pushes into public schools):

"This post has been removed or could not be loaded."
Actually, it was censored by ALA censorship police.
I was able to obtain a copy, before it was censored, of course.  I republish it as a courtesy to those seeking to expose how the American Library Association [ALA] harms communities.  It contains admissions and statements that go against the usual picture of good librarians caring for school children and communities.  These librarians are instead mocking patrons and otherwise showing they are social justice warriors, not civil servants acting in the public good, actively working to shape what patrons see.

Not all, of course.  Some librarians did indeed stand up for patrons and for common sense.  But the group counterattacks scare off many.  Even the first comment was to attack the messenger for posting a Breitbart News link.  I myself, a volunteer librarian, have been blocked from seeing, let alone commenting upon, this "open" Facebook group run by ALA heavyweights.

Why this matters: The censorship was done by the very same people who claim it is censorship to keep school children from inappropriate material in public schools.  It was done for the purpose of censoring their admissions that so-called "Banned Books Week" is a hoax.  As one candidate for ALA President put it (and the guy who blocked my access, self-arrogated free speech proponents that they are):
this is partially librarianship's fault. as long as we are out there banging the "banned book!!" drum for books that actually arent "banned" and are widely available everywhere, this is what we get. We get other people bending the definition of a banned book just as we ourselves bend it.
Exactly.  He also said,
We librarians call it a "banned" book if we decided it should be there against the wishes of a one/a few people, but we'd never dare call it a "banned" book if we ourselves decided it shouldn't be on the shelves?
which, btw, is my big issue with banned books week. 
Another librarian said,
Something is banned ("banned and challenged," but "banned" for public purposes) if a cranky private citizen writes a comment card against an available book, and the library staff appropriately do nothing whatsoever about it. But nothing that trained librarians do in the field of acquisition and weeding, although government employees, can ever quality for a spot on the banned-and-challenged continuum.
Correct.  And that's how books about ex-gays are banned by ALA and children's Rush Revere books by Rush Limbaugh are banned, even during Banned Books Week.  See:
It also exposes just how much librarians hate conservative ideas, Donald Trump, and Breitbart News.  Seething hatred.  Just read it.  No wonder they deleted it.  No wonder I resurrected it.

It also exposes how librarians practice their own brand of censorship that never makes it into ALA's "Banned Books Week" hoax list, as the one librarian pointed out, like the library director who threw Jerome Corsi's New York Times #1 Bestseller out the front door for obvious political reasons, then said it is now missing:
I once had a director take the swiftboating book on John Kerry off the shelves. He asked me where it came from and I answered that it was a donation. He opened the front door and tossed the book out the door. "it's missing."
Unfit for Command; Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry never appeared on any ALA Banned Books Week annual list.

Each year the American Library Association fakes stories about Banned Books Week and leaves out its own censorship.  The first commenter on the ALA Think Tank post above, who immediately went negative by questioning why anyone would link to Breitbart and mocked the library patron for claiming the Clinton Cash graphic novel was "BANNED," worked directly with ALA's "Office for Intellectual Freedom" to increase the efforts to dig up false censorship cases.  No book's been banned since 1963, for example, so all censorship cases ALA has uncovered since BBW started in 1982 by ACLU/ALA's Judith Krug are false censorship cases.  All of them.  Yet ALA keeps digging for more:
Here we see the very same people involved with that Banned Books Week hoax are themselves censors when they need to hide their own censorship and their own hatreds.  They admit Banned Books Week is a hoax, bash the President and conservative media, then censor the whole conversation.  Only the got caught at it.

Do not believe the ALA hoax any longer:

More on the Banned Books Week hoax that Thomas Sowell calls National Hogwash Week here.