In all the pre-March Break fuss at school this past week, I forgot to share with you all this excellent article from Torontoist, which offers a glimpse inside the Toronto Public Library’s book removal process.
As the article explains, the library as a policy is reluctant to engage in censorship:
“The library recognizes the right of any individual or group to reject library material for personal use, but does not accord to any individual or group the right to restrict the freedom of others to make use of that same material.”
However, for patrons who do object to the material, there is a formal means for them to request it be removed. Once they fill out a request form, that gets sent to a collections manager who reviews it, then sends it on to a committee who renders the final verdict.
The article says that since 2000, they have received about 100 requests and only removed nine titles. But what I found interesting was that outright removal is not the only option the committee will consider. In one example, they rehomed a Tintin story from the children’s collection into the adult collection, where presumably readers would be better able to put some now-racist content into the appropriate context. The article also notes that sometimes, a patron can be satisfied just by having an opportunity to vent about something.
It was an interesting glimpse behind the curtain of my local library system. I wonder how other libraries handle removal requests?