Friday, June 26, 2009

Knock it off!

Newbery MedalI had to withdraw a book last week and it is still bugging me. Now, withdrawing a book is a fairly common occurrence. A child might get her breakfast jelly stuck between two pages of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie or drop Goodnight Moon in the bath. (Don’t take your library books in the tub please!) We try to take care of books, but sometimes jelly happens. This time it was different. You’ll probably want to sit down before I say this. If you feel faint, put your head between your knees and take deep breaths.

Here goes: Some well-meaning but entirely misguided soul sat down with a Newbery Award-winning Library book and neatly applied Wite-Out® over every single “bad” word. It must have taken hours to scan the entire text! I heard you gasp from way over here and I know that all you library lovers are just as shocked as I was. For this reason, I will direct the rest of my comments specifically to the person with the big empty bottle of Wite-Out®.


Dear Book Defacer,
As a parent, an educator, and a Children’s Librarian, I agree that we should protect our children from the ills of society when possible. I even personally submitted a Request for Reconsideration once, which is the correct way to call attention to library materials that might somehow endanger a child. However, I feel compelled to point out that if your child goes to school and/or watches television, he or she is likely to be exposed on a daily basis to worse language than he would find in this book.

The most worrisome thing about your action is the example you are setting for your child. What you did is a crime. It is called defacing public property. For future reference, the Library has a system in place so that you can voice your concern, a system that any Librarian will courteously explain to you. Just so we are clear, the book you vandalized was thrown away and a fresh copy purchased. You just cost your Library, which gets its funding from taxes, $25 so you could deface a book.

Your Local Children’s Librarian

And while I’m at it:

Dear Writer in the Margins,
Please stop.
A Fellow Reader

By lw @ ss


Anonymous said...

Recently I was reading a library book in which someone had gone through and--fortunately with a pencil--corrected what he/she considered grammar mistakes, by drawing a line through the offending word and printing the "correct" word above it. I began gently erasing these corrections even though--especially in the case of conditionals--some of them were correct. Still, it is not up to us to become the "grammar police" and begin marking up books accordingly! It really is incredible to me that this can happen, although it should not be, since I am a retired librarian.

Anonymous said...

It has occurred to me since posting that comment that I should not have taken it upon myself to erase the markings in the book but should have taken it to the library and handed it to a librarian--even though I had a clean eraser and knew a little bit about how to erase without damaging the paper. Still, I was behaving like the "library police." Just for the record--I should have known better and will take it to a librarian next time, if there is a next time (I hope not!).