Monday, February 19, 2024

An Unofficial Banning of Books? - Use of Inter library loan process

 The Movie "Origin" made reference to a book titled "Deep South".  After viewing the movie, I did a search of my local Hamilton East (Fishers, Indiana) library's catalog.  Unfortunately, it was not among the holdings in the library.  I did a book request via the library's book request system to have them purchase the book.  The next day I checked for a response from the library.  The response was that the book was felt to be to "scholarly" for the holdings of the Hamilton East library, but they would borrow the book and get it for me via an interlibrary loan system.

I then decided to find the book to purchase via a private vendor.  It arrived in a few days and I quickly delved into the first few chapters.  The content of the first chapters gave an unfiltered and embarassing view of the actions and beliefs of white people in the South.  The book did not read as an overwhelming scholarly text book.  The impression I got was that the person who said it was too scholarly was offended by the content of the book's depiction of white people, and did not want that depiction in the Hamilton East Library catalog for patrons to read and talk about.

I located the selection criteria that guides the library's acquistion of books.  It lists nine criteria.  Several seemed relevant to "Deep South".  Those being "accuracy and timeliness of content", "current and anticipated needs and interests of the public", "contribution to diversity or breadth of collections", "presentation of unique or controversial points of view", and "price".

I then followed up and sent a letter of complaint to the library board asking them to reconsider the book not being purchased for the holdings of the Hamilton East library.  Then it ocurred to me.  Not purchasing a book, is the same as banning a book.  Not purchasing a book to me means you do not want that book available for your patrons to read.  This process is likely being repeated across the country.  Libraries are avoiding the controversy of removing books off the shelves by never purchasing books  that some find offensive.

I am awaiting a response from the library board regarding "Deep South" not being approved for the library's holdings.