Nancy Kravitz’s Censorship and the School Library Media Centeris a book that I originally checked out from the library for a school project, but the topic is also one of personal interest to me. I really enjoyed reading it, though I’m not sure that it has wide enough appeal for me to provide a general recommendation for it. Kravitz explores who attempts censorship and why, the history of censorship in schools, relevant court cases, the types of material challenged, policies and procedures around the issue that a school library should have, current issues in the topic, and actions that various interested individuals can take to promote intellectual freedom and fight censorship. There is also an extensive appendix of useful relevant documents,
I thought that this book was well researched and well written. Kravitz takes a level view on the issue, for example calling out liberal groups that try to censor as much as fundamentalist religious groups. Kravitz provides ways to get involved in the issue for not just librarians but also teachers, parents and students. She provides information on both organizations in support of intellectual freedom and those in support of censorship. The writing was at times very strong and sometimes accusatory, but Kravitz also stressed the importance of trying to understand where censors are coming from and staying calm and logical.
The book was published in 2008 but seems a bit dated for even that time. There is an extraordinary amount of detail on the history of censorship in public libraries, from all areas of the United States and all types of books, though this history only goes up to 2000. The organization of the book seems a bit odd in that information on past book challenges is provided in almost every chapter and not just the history chapter, but the specific history relayed always relates to the topic of the chapter.
Overall, the book is a wonderful resource to public school employees that may face the issue of censorship. Much of the information is more widely relevant to any library setting. It is also a huge wealth of information that I found fascinating to read. It’s crazy the kinds of reasons that have motivated people and organizations to try to ban books. If censorship and controversial books are topics you would find interesting, I would definitely recommend this book. It is full of information, but easy to read and free of jargon, and no background in a library is needed for full appreciation of it.