LIBRARY CHALLENGE #1
Are library book challenges scary? I think so! But they are much less scary when you have a strong plan. When you know exactly what to do and say. Please, please don’t wait until you have a library book challenge to read your district’s Selection and Reconsideration Policies. You need to prepare today, and I’m going to help you get started.
It’s 7:45am, and your library is hoppin-busy. Groups of students are playing Chess, Checkers, and Uno. Some are on the computers working on last night’s homework. Some are sitting at the tables talking, and some are browsing the library shelves. Others are reading quietly and somehow ignoring all the activity happening around them.
Suddenly, you look up, and there’s another adult standing there, waving a library book that’s full of sticky notes. She tells you the book has “objectionable” content (hence, the sticky notes) and wants you to remove it from the library. The library starts to get quiet as students see this upset parent and try to listen in. What do you do?
POLICIES TO THE RESCUE!
If your school or district has a strong Selection and Reconsideration Policy–and you’ve read it thoroughly–you’ll know exactly what to do.
But if you have no idea what the policy is–or if your school even has a policy–you are probably left standing there, flustered and uncomfortable and trying to decide what you can say to this parent.
If you have not yet encountered a parent, teacher, administrator, or community library book challenge or concern, then just wait. I can 100% guarantee that if you are a school librarian, you will eventually encounter a library book challenge.
I want you to be prepared for that day. I want you to have policies and know them well so that you look like the professional librarian that you are (even if you don’t always feel like it).
CAN I DO THIS CHALLENGE ANYTIME?
You sure can! The Monthly Library Challenge is actually a bit of a misnomer. At one time, these were live challenges I did with a FaceBook group. I happened to do this one in September 2019. Unfortunately, participation was too low to justify the amount of work I was putting into it.
These are no longer “monthly” library challenges at all. They are self-paced challenges designed to help you work through difficult aspects of being a school librarian, especially a brand-new school librarian.
You can work on the challenges as you like and at your own pace. You can do all or part of any challenge you like. Do whatever you have time for, even if all you are able to do right now is read this post.
HERE’S HOW YOU CAN PARTICIPATE…
STEP I: WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW
This video is one I originally did as a FaceBook Live with the Monthly Library Challenge Group, way back in September 2019. This was my first Library Challenge and only my fourth live video, so please bear with me as I figure out what to do with myself on live video!
In the video, I…
- introduce our monthly theme of Banned and Challenged Books
- show and discuss my free Selection and Reconsideration Policy Kit
- describe the tasks you’ll need to complete for the challenge
STEP 2: DOWNLOAD TWO DOCUMENTS (BOTH ARE FREE)
Library Selection and Reconsideration Materials – These are 100% editable and free! If your school does not have Selection and Reconsideration Policies at all, or if they need an update, you can use these! I created them specifically for this challenge (not for a school district). To create them, I used a combination of my 15 years as a school librarian and Head Librarian, as well as materials on ALA’s website (all linked below).
Library Challenge #1 – Review Your Library Selection and Reconsideration Policies – Print this task list and keep it by your computer so it’s at the front of your mind.
STEP 3: JOIN THE MONTHLY LIBRARY CHALLENGE FACEBOOK GROUP
Have a question or want to talk about how your your challenge is going? Join the Monthly Library Challenge Facebook group! This is a supportive group of librarians from around the world. The group is dedicated to the Monthly Challenges, but you are free to ask any questions about libraries that you may have.
USEFUL LINKS FOR LIBRARY BOOK CHALLENGES
“Steps to Take When Materials Are Challenged” by CCBC School of Education University of Wisconsin-Madison (submitted by Mayra in the Facebook group)
EXAMPLES OF WELL-WRITTEN RECONSIDERATION POLICIES
Interesting side-note: Many libraries choose to publish their Reconsideration policies and forms online. This is great, and I love the transparency of it. As I researched the policies, however, I was surprised at the number of broken links to the actual form that patrons fill out to initiate a formal challenge. If your school’s policies are online, be sure to check your links and report them if they do not work.
On the other hand, if you have a good policy posted online and would like to share it, please email me a link!