Informal Censorship in School Libraries
School libraries in Canada have long been viewed as a valuable resource for students, providing access to a wide range of materials that can enhance their learning and support their personal interests. However, there are instances of informal censorship within these libraries that can limit the students’ access to certain materials, particularly those related to LGBTQ2S+ issues and Shakespeare’s works.
One approach that school libraries engage in informal censorship is through text selection tools that prioritize culturally responsive and universal design models. While this approach can help ensure that materials are reflective of student representation and needs, it can also limit the diversity of ideas and perspectives available to students. By avoiding certain controversial topics or viewpoints, school libraries may unintentionally contribute to a narrowing of students’ understanding of the world around them.
Another form of informal censorship in school libraries is related to LGBTQ2S+ materials and books. While there may not be an overt ban on these materials, they are often left off selection lists or moved to special collections that require special permission to access. This can create a perception that these materials are not suitable for all students, limiting their exposure to important issues related to gender and sexuality.
Similarly, there have been discussions in some school communities about the value of Shakespeare’s works as a high school student’s “right of passage”. Some have argued that students can acquire the same critical skills through reading more accessible materials that reflect a wider range of experiences and perspectives. While this may be a legitimate discussion to have, it is important to ensure that such discussions do not lead to a devaluation of the importance of classic literature or limit students’ access to a range of literary works.
In conclusion, informal censorship in school libraries may limit students’ exposure to diverse ideas and perspectives, particularly those related to controversial topics such as LGBTQ2S+ issues or classic literature. We believe it is important for school communities to remain vigilant in protecting students’ right to access a range of materials and ideas, while also ensuring that materials are selected in a thoughtful and culturally responsive manner.