Saturday, February 26, 2011

study: Testing for Self-Censorship

The purpose of this study was to determine the potential of measuring the holdings of a school library young adult book collections and indications of self-censorship that might be practiced by the school library media specialist. The method employed, analysis of title ownership through examination of the school's OPAC, was an attempt to move away from questionnaires and interviews which might not allow for an objective description of selection decisions and acquisition practices.

A pool of recent, potentially controversial young adult books that had also received supporting reviews, awards, or recommendations for inclusion on reading lists was established. A small, random sample of high schools in Texas that are part of the state's online union catalog system was determined. Specific titles were searched in each school's OPAC to determine ownership. Based on one factor, not owning at least 50 percent of the controversial titles in the pool tested, the researcher concludes that over 80 percent of the schools in the study show signs that self-censorship has occurred during the collection development process.

The researcher acknowledges the limitations of the study and suggests other factors that should be taken into account before conclusive judgment can be made that deliberate self-censorship is widely practiced. An agenda for further research and study on censorship issues is outlined.
School of Library and Information Science, Texas Women's University, 2002, Moving Toward a Method to Test for Self-Censorship by School Library Media Specialists

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