Challenges to Library Materials

Rather than repeating several paragraphs in each of my blog entries, I included a bit of challenge information in each entry, specific to that entry, and I am including the long version here.

The first step in protecting the library collection is making certain that the library has a clear and well-communicated collection development policy.  Secondly, the policy must be followed.  The collection development policy, approved by the appropriate powers that be, then becomes the document that supports all items in the collection.  So, when an item is challenged, the library has the collection development policy to back up the decision to include the item.

Additionally, libraries can prepare for challenges by keeping copies of reviews and other sources used for choosing materials, for example award lists.  These items can be kept in a file, electronic or otherwise, particularly for books that have already been or are very likely to be challenged.  Positive Reviews can very often easily and quickly be found on, usually the information on a book’s webpage includes one or two professional reviews.  Additionally, the Oakland Public Library’s website provides a link to multiple reviews of most of the items in its collection, so that is a sources for a more extensive listings of reviews, though, this is not as comprehensive a collection as Amazon’s.  One can also find book reviews in online subscription databases like LISTA (Library, Information Science Technology Abstracts and Full Text) and Library Literature & Information Science Full Text.  Reviews, of course, can also be found in one of many publications dedicated to literature reviews like School Library Journal, Library Journal, Multicultural Review, Young Adult Library Services, and many, many more.

Lastly, I wanted to share a collection of resources that could prove useful for dealing with challenges to materials or other intellectual freedom issues.

Intellectual Freedom and Challenge Resources

ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom

National Coalition Against Censorship

National Council of Teachers of English Anti-Censorship Center

PEN American Center is the U.S. branch of the world’s oldest international literary and human rights organization.

Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Intellectual freedom information and resources.

Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Intellectual freedom links: education and advocacy groups.

First Amendment Center

Free Expression Network

The Center for Children’s Books: What to Do When a Book is Being Challenged in Your Library

Random House First Amendment First Aid Kit


What do the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers, the Association of Booksellers for Children, the Children’s Book Council, the Freedom to Read Foundation, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the National Council of Teachers of English, the PEN American Center, and the People for the American Way Foundation have in common? They are all sponsors of kidSPEAK!, which was initially called Muggles for Harry Potter. (In the Harry Potter series, a Muggle is a non-magical person.)

An Explanation of Genre Assignments

Genres included in the blog were largely derived from the second edition of Diana Tixier Herald’s Teen Genreflecting: A Guide to Reading Interests.  This book only deals with fiction and books, so for non-fiction and other media the genre/genres assigned to each item closely matches one of Herald’s where possible, and otherwise were created by me with usability in mind.

The format for the Genres is as follows.  Under the heading “Genres” I have listed all the possible Genres from Herald’s book, many of the entries in this blog fit into more than one genre, so they are listed with commas in between.  Where I felt it was necessary, I added additional genres.  I added the genre “Realistic Fiction” because, for those unfamiliar with Herald’s work, many teen novels fit into this category, so I wanted it to be there to make the blog more user friendly.  Also, I added a genre called “Urban Fiction” to some of the titles, as this is a genre I have read about and researched and I feel it warrants being included.

Under the heading “Subgenres/Themes” I have detailed the genres into the subgenres and themes specified by Herald.  I have started with the genre, then a colon for the next level of theme or subgenre and then another colon for a sublevel, where relevant.  For example, the genre section for a book about a teen drug dealer in the inner city would look like this:

Genre: Issues, Realistic Fiction, Urban Fiction

Subgenre/Theme: Issues: Social Concerns: Crime and Criminals


Herald, D. T. (2003). Teen Genreflecting: A Guide to Reading Interests. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, Inc.