[Libs-Or] December 2020 Tuesday Topic

Lori Moore lorim at multcolib.org
Tue Dec 15 08:24:24 PST 2020

Oregon Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee

Tuesday Topic, December 2020

Welcome to Tuesday Topics, a monthly series covering topics with
intellectual freedom implications for libraries of all types. Each message
is prepared by a member of OLA's Intellectual Freedom Committee or a guest
writer. Questions can be directed to the author of the topic or to the IFC

Bias and Librarian Censorship

You may have read
a while back about Anne Carroll Moore <http://archives.nypl.org/mss/2048>,
who effectively censored Goodnight Moon during her tenure as a children’s
librarian at the New York Public Library. The reason seemed to be she
simply didn’t like it, saying, among other things, that it was “too
sentimental”. It’s easy to chuckle at this old-school iron-bun librarian
(to be fair she was pretty awesome in a lot of other ways), but it gives us
a good opportunity to examine our own biases and how they play into our

As librarians, we pride ourselves on determining what is right and what is
not right for our collections. This can and should be based on strong
collection policies, professional research and knowing our communities and
their wants and needs.  But inevitably, our biases also come into play.
Acknowledging our biases and thinking about them are good first steps in
avoiding this kind of censorship.

There are a lot of good resources out there to help us learn about, examine
and overcome bias. Here are a few to start with:

OPB: Who me biased?

ALA: Keeping up with...Implicit Bias

Yourbias.is <https://yourbias.is/>

Harvard Project Implicit

Anne Carroll Moore may have asserted that the omission of Goodnight Moon
was about professional judgement. But the determination that something is
badly produced and the determination that it’s not “good for” our patrons
or our library collection is where we really have to examine all of our
biases and be sure that they are not undermining our missions and ethics.
Next time you are making selections, creating a display, recommending
reading or even in your own reading, recognize your biases and work to
overcome them!

And if you’re interested in diving deeper into the concept, here are a few

   - Quinn, Brian. “Collection Development and the Psychology of Bias.” The
   Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy, vol. 82, no. 3, 2012,
   pp. 277–304.
   - Wheeler Ronald. “We All Do It: Unconscious Behavior, Bias, and
   Diversity.” Law Library Journal, vol. 107, no. 2, Spring 2015, pp.
   - Dalton, Shamika, and Michele Villagran. “Minimizing and Addressing
   Implicit Bias in the Workplace: Be Proactive, Part One.” College &
   Research Libraries News, vol. 79, no. 9. Oct. 2018, pp. 478-485.

Remember, Oregon libraries can report intellectual freedom issues and get
support: The Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse
<https://libguides.osl.state.or.us/oifc>(OIFC) collects
<https://libguides.osl.state.or.us/c.php?g=843530&p=6029014> and compiles
<https://libguides.osl.state.or.us/c.php?g=843530&p=6029009> information
about intellectual freedom issues at libraries in Oregon. The OIFC also
provides information to libraries to help them prepare
<https://libguides.osl.state.or.us/c.php?g=843530&p=6029011> for and address
<https://libguides.osl.state.or.us/c.php?g=843530&p=6029012> intellectual
freedom issues. Find additional resources to deal with challenges and
develop robust policies at the Intellectual Freedom Committee's toolkit page

*Lori Moore *OLA Intellectual Freedom Committee Member Librarian, Multnomah
County Library
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