Banned Books Week – Looking Local

I decided to explore a little bit some of the censorship that happens right in my own backyard.  The Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse (OIFC) has some great resources, including a list of all library material challenges in Oregon going back to 1988 (the current list runs to June 30, 2017).

In the 2016-2017 academic calendar (July through June) there were 20 reported challenges in Oregon, from six different public libraries.  The challenges were to books, videos, magazines, and sound recordings.

“Included among the challenges are seven videos that a patron removed from a library’s shelves and hid inside the library. Library staff found some of the videos and purchased replacements for others, according to their Collection Development Policy. The videos all had LGBT+ characters featured in the cover art. The Library Director identified the patron and learned that they were hiding the videos in an attempt to restrict other patrons’ access to LGBT+ films and prevent “potential harm” to children. The Library Director explained the library’s collection development policy, responsibility to represent diversity, and non-endorsement of materials/ideas in the collection to the patron. According to the library’s Code of Conduct, the patron was trespassed for six months.” (OIFC Annual Report)

What’s interesting to look at with some of these challenges is that the challenges come from many different viewpoints.  For example, the movie “2 Days in Paris” was challenged by a patron due to “anti-gay content.” While the movie “Beautiful Things” was included in the incident mentioned above, where a patron objected to the LGBT content.

The books that made it onto the challenged list in Oregon this year?

The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, by Clair Legrand
Objection: Violence (Patron asked it to be moved from the juvenile section to the teen section due to the content and themes).
Outcome: Retained.

George, by Alex Gino
Objection: Sexual (unsuited to age)
Outcome: Retained

Pretty Little Liars: Ali’s Pretty Little Lies. By Sara Shepard
Objection: Values (offensive language)
Outcome: Retained

Curious George by H.A. Rey
Objection: 1: Values (Racism) 2: Other (Unsuited to age).
Outcome: Retained




2 thoughts on “Banned Books Week – Looking Local

  1. The challenges revolving around suitability for a specific age group is a very common one. I think if the people “rating” them or placing them in specific sections for readers could avoid some of this. Maybe they need to have parents of different age groups render an opinion. I know I have asked teachers to let my own kids (now grown) read a different text when something has been unsuitable. Sometimes we forget who the reading/viewing audience will be. If parents choose to have their own children read/view material suggested for older children, that’s their prerogative.


    1. See, the problem I have is generally this “unsuitable for age” is due to a values-judgement by someone. For example, I wrote about George today – LOVED it, but there are those people who think it’s going to be “unsuited” for it’s target age group (3rd through 7th grade is what’s listed on the publishers site) because it is about a transgender child. Same argument with “I am Jazz.”
      Generally it isn’t actually a problem of the book being presented to a group younger than it is appropriate (there are a few examples of this, and often the resolution is that the book is moved to a more age-appropriate location).


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