Monday, April 13, 2015

Book Review: The New Inquisition, Understanding and Managing Intellectual Freedom Challenges


April 12-18 is National Library Week! In celebration, I am reviewing a book I first read whilst getting my public librarian certification. “The New Inquisition, Understanding and Managing Intellectual Freedom Challenges” by James LaRue.

True enough, this isn’t a sexuality book, but in the library world, sexuality books come under much scrutiny, to the point that some are challenged to be removed from the shelves. In other words, if someone’s trying to ban a sex book, this book comes in handy.

Intellectual freedom involves the right of any individual to seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. There are many facets of intellectual freedom in libraries – including whether or not to filter computers for explicit or violent content, and what books, magazines, CD’s, etc. are allowed to circulate. The purpose of the library is to allow patrons to access information without restriction. But that doesn’t mean people will not try to implement restrictions.

While this book is largely intended for use as a textbook in library science studies, I found this book very helpful for my work as a sex blogger. (Alas, due to budget cuts and the fact I live in an extremely rural area, I do not currently work at a library. I hope that changes but until then I remain your faithful Unlaced Librarian.)

The book gives an overview of censorship and indeed is my go-to reference for many discussions regarding censorship. There is clarification and discussion of the first amendment as well as library based documents such as the Library Bill of Rights.

The chapters on Religion and Generations reach further than the walls of the library and I garnered a lot of valuable information as a sex writer and independent publisher. People of different generations will respond differently to institutions or ideas they don't like. A study of generations is very interesting in regards to information access. Also, the stereotype that libraries are super liberal porn promoters (porn in libraries, oh my!) that turn a blind eye toward religion is trampled in this book as LaRue discusses instances where the library has worked to benefit the religious views of patrons and balance the collection where information regarding a religious sect was impoverished. As a book reviewer myself, this book gave me the tools to read and objectively evaluate books that don't align with my religious beliefs -- and I have learned a great deal since applying this new outlook.  
Of course, the material regarding responding to challenges is the core fruit of the text that is crucial for libraries, but also quite insightful for dealing with hateful blog comments.
Finally, the last part of the book focuses centrally on the institution of the library outlining ways the library can engage with the community it serves.

If you have interest in intellectual freedom and a connection to the library field, you should definitely give this book a read.

If you are not directly involved with the library field but perhaps are a writer or publisher interested in intellectual freedom, this book will likely still be valuable to look into. If you are wary of purchasing a library science textbook for yourself, why not give it a peruse at your local library? If your library doesn’t have the book in their collection, you may always request it through inter-library loan. (See what I did there? Support libraries!)

At the end of the day, this book has a permanent home on The Unlaced Librarian’s shelf. And my sex book collection would not be complete without this book, which so eloquently explains the principles that protect them.  

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