I am currently putting together a library display in which I asked our faculty and staff to give me a list of their favorite children’s or YA books. I am intent on displaying these books with the faculty/staff names next to them. One book came up that I had heard before but wasn’t familiar with and we don’t carry in our library. I looked it up to see if it was something we might want to add to our collection. What I found was troubling – maybe. The book is an award winning book written in memoir form about a man’s experience growing up with his grandparents. Apparently, many years after the author’s death it was revealed that not only is the book completely fiction, but he has a pretty heinous past of being a segregationist, white supremacist and founder of some extreme KKK organizations in the 1950’s and 60’s.
This type of issue came up last year as well when it was revealed that another popular YA author has fairly well documented opinions regarding a social issue that make people uncomfortable and even enraged. So much so, that when a movie was released of this popular novel, a lot of social groups were very vocal about NOT going to see it.
What are our obligations? I understand that censorship is always wrong. I would never pull a book from a library based on my personal views of that author. But are we obligated to have information available regarding problematic information and let the patrons make that moral decision on their own? Or do we, as keepers of that information, allow the uninformed to stay uninformed because it has no relevance?
Am I thinking too much about this???