[kids-lib] What to do about Indian Captive by Lois Lenski?

bbogart6 at comcast.net bbogart6 at comcast.net
Thu Apr 28 16:11:37 PDT 2016

There are so many factors involved in these decisions. Taking the First, is not considering needed shelf space in small libraries. I would argue that unless a library has developed a collection policy/mission to maintain a retrospective collection, it may have more important criteria to follow. The title will always be avail to inter library loan from academic and very large library systems. Also, the books target audience age range should be a factor. Are nine year olds likely to be assigned a comparative historical literature paper? 
And of course the library's service community must be considered. We are supported by our community, and like it or not, their voices need to be heard. We cannot simply make unilateral collection decisions based on a broadly written and highly interpretive amendment. ALA does a disservice to new librarians when they encourage a non-contemplative, simplistic fall back position of any kind. 

Discussion is always good. This is merely my long term opinion, thoughtfully developed over many years. Collection development for children does require a more in depth conversation. From books by Paul Goble to My Princess Boy, I have supported books that were challenged for a myriad of reasons. The First Amendment may be crucial to the survival of libraries, but so is tax money. Collection development is a fluid field requiring library staff who can thoughtfully articulate library decisions and encourage their communities to embrace the freedom to read. 

Or maybe I am just tired of dead white men influencing our culture ;)


Deb Bogart, MLS
Youth Services Collection Librarian, retired

Sent from Deb's iPad

> On Apr 28, 2016, at 2:49 PM, Martín Blasco <MartinB at wccls.org> wrote:
> Hi Katie:
> It was great to see you at the conference, and thank you so much for generating this kind of discussion.
> Few thoughts. We cannot, as librarians, suppress old books with negative stereotypes (Powell’s still displays The Adventures of Tintin openly), they are part of the history of this continent and, consequently, these racist books written by Caucasian male writers must be preserved by those libraries which already have them. It’s like trying to suppress/ban Mein Kampf.  Can they be used for assignments? Well, it depends in what context. Comparative social studies are valid and important. Moreover, to learn from the past is crucial to understand our present and thus, plan for the future. Unfortunately, human beings don’t possess the memory that other animals have.
> Including it in a reading list? Again, for what? Is it to show how awful, but common, were and are stereotypes? Now, if it is just in a reading list because it’s appropriate for certain ages, and without a context, no way. We can learned about a racist dominant culture, but we cannot and should not promote it.
> I remember a friend who used to tell me that we should destroyed the colonial houses built over Incas’ ruins in Cuzco, Peru. Erase the past? Mmm. Erase history?
> Someone complains? We work in public libraries and the First Amendment is crucial for their survival. We can just put the book aside (like many libraries do with books or magazines about cannabis or nude but artistic photograph books). Are we going to ban violence? Racism? Let’s educate ourselves, let’s open our minds. Let’s imagine, instead of banning or suppressing.
> If we fall in an intolerant place, like the one described or told in, especially, old stereotypical books, we are going to be condemned. This happens during authoritarian governments: the suppression of history (or the people’s history, the one which is not official, which doesn’t represent the interests of those in power.) Let’s not forget how during the W. Bush’s years the federal government tried to get information about patrons who took “not the right” book. It reminded me of the dictatorship in my old country in the seventies and early 80s which was like living in the Dark Ages. From high school until I was 23 years old, I didn’t have access to books considered “subversive”, unless friends smuggled them. Same with the arts. Remember Rudolph Giuliani in NYC in the nineties and early 2000s? Another dictator suppressing “degenerate” art (remember that concept?)
> If I love our constitution, it is because its first amendment. This idea of tolerance is what we should be exporting, instead of war.
> Of course, this is my personal opinion. 
> Martín Blasco
> Washington County, OR
> From: Kids-lib [mailto:kids-lib-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us] On Behalf Of Katie Anderson
> Sent: Thursday, April 28, 2016 1:51 PM
> To: kids-lib at listsmart.osl.state.or.us
> Subject: [kids-lib] What to do about Indian Captive by Lois Lenski?
> Hi! Many of you may have seen the following email from Debbie Reese about Indian Captive by Lois Lenski. Reese read Indian Captive and did research about the true story it’s based on. Reese learned that Indian Captive includes some inaccurate portrayals of what really happened and that the book, written in 1941, includes many of the negative, incorrect stereotypes of Native communities common during that time.
> Indian Captive is an award winning, classic book so many libraries will probably keep it in their collection. After reading Debbie Reese’s thorough review and gaining a better understanding about the specific content that is culturally inappropriate and potentially hurtful to Native youth using our libraries…
> What might we do, if anything, when…
> ·         A children/parents asks us to help them find and check out Indian Captive?
> ·         A student comes in asking for Indian Captive for a homework assignment?
> ·         We learn a teacher we know fairly well is using Indian Captive in their classroom or including it on a reading list?
> ·         Someone complains or fills out a reconsideration request form about Indian Captive?
> Please remember to be respectful of each other’s ideas, we’re trying to help each other figure out how to deal with a sensitive issue.
> Thanks,
> Katie
> Katie Anderson, Youth Services Consultant
> Library Support and Development Services
> Oregon State Library, 250 Winter St. NE, Salem, OR 97301
> katie.anderson at state.or.us, 503-378-2528
> <image001.png>
> From: alsc-l-request at lists.ala.org [mailto:alsc-l-request at lists.ala.org] On Behalf Of Debbie Reese
> Sent: Wednesday, April 27, 2016 8:08 AM
> To: School Library Media & Network Communications <LM_NET at listserv.syr.edu>; Texas Library Connection <tlc at txla.org>; alsc-l at lists.ala.org; AILA at SI-LISTSERV.SI.EDU; yalsa-bk at lists.ala.org
> Subject: [alsc-l] Librarian wrote to me about Lenski's INDIAN CAPTIVE
> Good morning!
> A school librarian wrote to me about Lois Lenski's Indian Captive, asking if I'd reviewed it. Her question nudged me to finish writing about it. I want to return to it later, but for now, here's my review. 
> http://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/2016/04/lois-lenskis-indian-captive.html
> Please share it with others, as you wish, and if you know of a teacher who is using it to teach about stereotyping and bias, please let me know.
> Debbie
> _____________________________________
> Debbie Reese, Ph.D.
> Tribally enrolled: Nambe Pueblo
> Publisher of American Indians in Children's Literature 
> Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/debreese 
> Email: dreese.nambe at gmail.com
> _____________________________________________________
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