Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Case Study No. 0904: "His favorite librarian was thoughtful and wise"

LIS 6010: Ethical Scenario #7
LIS 6010 (spring/summer 2010) with Dr. Maria Gonzalez at Wayne State University (School of Library and Information Science).

Ethical Scenario #7: As a librarian, a friend shows you a finished manuscript of a children's book that takes a realistic look at an adolescent's experience, which includes experimentation with drugs and sex. Your friend wants to know what you, as a librarian thinks, if it's publishable and it's marketable. You know that the book will most likely be considered objectionable in most school libraries and many public libraries unless your friend removes some scenes form his book. Do you recommend that your friend remove the scenes from his book?

Team Awesome:
Cecile Bosshard, J.C. Brown, Janet Curtiss, Brian Cutter, Araceli Mata, Tashia Munson, and Christopher Schimers
Tags: lis 6010 library ethics library censorship wayne state university ethical scenario library ethical scenario library humor
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Ethical Scenaro #7 Team Awesome Group Presentation

For LIS 6010
Wayne State University
July 13, 2010

Once upon a time in a land not far from here
A young man wrote a story and set down his pen
The story reflected what it was like to be a teen
The trials and tribulations and how it had been
You may assume the writer would become famous and live happily ever after
Unfortunately the writer feared his story would be met with laughter
Upon hearing the story, delicate ears tingled and innocent faces blushed
More than anything, the author feared the story would be hushed
Would publishers throw it in the can?
Worse, would it be cause for a ban?
Our writer was in a quandry, what should he do?
He turned to those closest to give him a clue
The young writer went straight to the person who always knows best
He brought the story to his mom to give it a test
Let's see what happened next!

[cut to still photos of two dogs, as the jaws move up and down to make it appear that they are talking to each other]
WRITER: Hey mom, you know how you've always encouraged me to write? I finally did it, I've written a children's book!
MOTHER: Ever since you did that report on the Tyrannosaurus Rex in the second grade, I knew you were destined for great things! Let me see it!
WRITER: Here it is! I've been picking away at it for the last four years.
MOTHER: Four years? I can't believe you never told me!
WRITER: You know how the creative process is, Mom ... I had to wait until it was ready.
MOTHER: Hmm, lemmee take a look at this book here ... Interesting. You said this was a children's book, right?
WRITER: Teens, mostly ... young adults.
MOTHER: Smoking? Honey, if kids are reading this, I don't think you should be talking about cigarettes! Let me read a little bit more ... Hmm, wait a second! Pot? Isn't that marijuana? You can't write about drugs! What if the police found out? You could get arrested for that! What if Aunt Mildred found out?!
WRITER: Never mind, Ma! I'm sorry for even showing it to you!

Our young writer hoped any problems on the page
Are a result of Mom's advancing age
He picked up the phone to give his friend Julie a call
As he listened to it ring, he paced down the hall

[cut to still photos of the dog and a cat]
WRITER: Hey Julie, how are you?
JULIE: Great, what's up?
WRITER: I was wondering if you had a chance to read my manuscript?
JULIE: Um, yeah, it's great.
WRITER: Thank you! Um, what did you like about it, exactly?
JULIE: Oh, everything! Hey, did I tell you what happened at the office the other day, with Fred?
WRITER: Yeah, you did. Listen, I really want your opinion on a few scenes in the story. Do you think some of it is ... y'know, too much?
JULIE: Too much what?
WRITER: Y'know, like ... the drugs? Do you think people will see it as inappropriate?
JULIE: Drugs? I don't remember anything about drugs ... Oh, hang on, I have another call.
[she pauses]
JULIE: Hello? You still there?
WRITER: Yes, I'm here. Now can we please talk about my book?
JULIE: That was Fred! He wants to take me out to dinner, hee hee! He's so cute, don't you think?
[he sighs]
WRITER: Yeah, sure. He's real cute.
JULIE: I have to go. I don't know what to wear, I have to paint my nails ... Oh, good luck with your book! Talk to you later!
WRITER: Yeah, thanks a lot ... Bye.

The writer was afraid the story might be a bust
He next turned to someone who had earned his trust
His favorite librarian was thoughtful and wise
They arranged to meet over coffee and pies

[cut to still photos of the dog and a cat wearing glasses]
WRITER: Hey, I finally finished my manuscript!
LIBRARIAN: Congratulations! You've been working on that for quite some time now. How long has it been?
WRITER: About four years. I just got it back from my proofreader yesterday, and I think I'm ready for the next step, but I'd like your opinion.
LIBRARIAN: My opinion?
WRITER: Well, of course your opinion, considering that you work with books and all. I figured you would know if my manuscript could even stand a chance out there in Literary Land.
LIBRARIAN: Sure, I'll take a look at it. Let's set something up next week.

After some more chit chat the pair finished eating
They decided on the library for their next meeting

[cut back to the still photos of the dog and cat]
WRITER: I appreciate you taking time out of your schedule. I'm sure you're super busy with the summer reading program going on.
LIBRARIAN: No problem! That's what friends are for, right?
WRITER: Speaking of friendship, I give you full permission to be brutally honest with me about my manuscript. Please, do not worry about offending me, or hurting my feelings. I would rather hear it from you than some literary agent or publisher.
LIBRARIAN: Do you have a literary agent?
WRITER: Nope, I found that whole process intimidating and a bit frustrating.
LIBRARIAN: Well, there are different types of literary agents, depending on the type of manuscript you have. If I remember, you said that this manuscript is geared towards young adults, correct?
WRITER: Good memory! It's somewhat autobiographical, too. Have you read "Always Running" by Luis Rodriguez? His book inspired me to begin my writing process.
WRITER: So, you're familiar with his book?
LIBRARIAN: Amazing book! It's actually used at Ferris State University in their Juvenile Delinquency Prevention and Control class. You won't see it on many library shelves, though. Mister Rodriguez's book is on the frequently challenged and/or banned book list.
WRITER: You aren't serious, are you? I thought the days of censorship were over! People are still banning books?
LIBRARIAN: Like you wouldn't believe! The Harry Potter and Twilight series are the current hot button books right now ... Don't get me wrong, it's not the government banning books, but rather the community finds issues with a particular piece. Whether it contains paganism and witchcraft like the Harry Potter books, or have inappropriate romantic themes like the Twilight series. Parents speak out and challenge library materials.
WRITER: I had no idea.
LIBRARIAN: School media centers are even worse. If the book is even a little on the racy side, parents and even some teachers oppose it and request it's removed. With the state budget crunch, lots of questions get raised about money being spent on unnecessary and inappropriate books.
WRITER: So, how long do you think you'll need to read this over and give me your opinion?
LIBRARIAN: Uh, about a week. Let's meet up next Friday after work.

The time had finally come to give the story a look
The writer knew the librarian could help make it a book

[cut back to the still photos of the dog and cat]
WRITER: I can't wait to hear what you have to say about it. Waddaya think?
LIBRARIAN: Well, first of all, I'm extremely proud of you for finishing what many would consider a daunting task in itself. Not everyone is capable of completing a work of literature the likes of which you have presented.
WRITER: There were so many times when I just wanted to throw the thing away, but something inside me just made me keep going, and I'm really glad that I did.
LIBRARIAN: With that said, as a friend, I think you've done a fantastic job and should be very proud of yourself.
WRITER: I knew you'd like it! You really are a good friend!
WRITER: Wait a minute. What do you mean "but?"
LIBRARIAN: The task of a librarian is very similar to a double-edged sword. Yeah, I wanna encourage you as a writer to fulfill any and every desire that you have in regards to writing literature, but at the same time I want you to realize that not everyone is going to have the same convictions. I want you to realize that your work may raise some eyebrows, and may gain some attention, and not in a good way.
WRITER: Well, waddaya mean?
LIBRARIAN: If you go back in time, notable writers such as John Steinbeck and JD Salinger faced harsh criticism and censorship for works that were deemed inappropriate. Even beloved Doctor Seuss couldn't entirely escape the hangman's noose once some of his work was deemed controversial.
WRITER: But ... all of those became very famous and successful authors.
LIBRARIAN: That is very true ... "The Grapes of Wrather," "Catcher on the Rye," and "The Lorax" are all now classical examples of literature, but in their infancy, that was not the case.
WRITER: So you're saying I shouldn't publish my book ... or maybe I should wait a hundred years, then maybe people will be ready for it.
LIBRARIAN: I'm not trying to discourage you from publishing your work, all that I'm trying to say is to seriously consider your options. A touchy subject needs to be treaded upon lightly.
WRITER: So, wadda you suggest I do?
LIBRARIAN: Well, you could show your work to someone in the publishing field. I have a friend that is an editor for a small publishing company, I could have them take a look at it for you.
WRITER: You'd do that for me?
LIBRARIAN: Of course! Another option is to seek other opinions from the writing community. A fellow author is sometimes the best source for advice. Try something local, or even an online creative writing community such as Protagonize. I'm sure you'll be able to find the right advice you're looking for.
WRITER: Maybe you're right. I think that'd be a good idea. Thank you so much.

The librarian proved to be a valuable friend
Always championing books he wanted to defend
With a publishing contract clutched in his hand
The writer felt ready to meet the public's demand
By contacting other writers he'd learn what it takes
Selling a book isn't easy, for goodness sakes!
Without this advice the story may have been missed
You might see it one day on the best sellers list


Brian Cutter

JC Brown

Friend Julie
Janet Curtiss

Chris Schimers

Cecil Bosshard


Estudio Brillante - Tarrrega
Sleepers Awake - Bach

Cecile Bosshard
JC Brown
Janet Curtiss
Brian Cutter
Araceli Mata
Tashia Munson
Christopher Schimers


Haycock, K. & Sheldon, B. (2008) The Portable MLIS. Westport, CT : Libraries Unlimited
Public domain photos of canines and felines retrieved 2010
Preer, J. (2008) Library Ethics. Westport, CT : Libraries Unlimited
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