Sender: Leila Shapiro <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Donations by special interest groups
Dan, you are not alone; many libraries have experienced gifts like the
ones you describe. My guess is that the reason you got so lucky is that
your collection is deficient in representing the point of view of the gift
books. Further, I guess that there is not a lot to choose from in the
area of the subject matter of these gifts, especially from main-stream
publishers. So, in order to represent the (minority?) viewpoints
represented in these gift books, go ahead and add them even if there are
no reviews. If you have any kind of collection statement it must include
a phrase such as "representing all points of view" or "all sides of an
issue" so that if you are questioned as to why you added these books which
may not be well written, you can say that they are the only
representations of that particular point of view that you could find.
Every single one of these issues is political, and hateful as some of
these gift books are sometimes, they can be defended on an intellectual
freedom basis. I do, however, stop short of defending lies. If these are
so-called revisionist history saying that slavery or the holocaust never
happended, I would revisit the whole topic.
On Thu, 14 Jul 1994, Dan Hubbs wrote:
> A patron of ours, a member of a special interest group, recently purchased 24
> books and mailed them to our library with the intention of adding the books
> to our collection. The group feels, so our patron explained, that there side
> of an issue is not well represented here, and so, has taken it upon themselves
> to rectify that situation. This is part of a national campaign, and I wonder
> if other libraries have been approached and how they have handled the
> We want to represent both sides of the issue, but we have run into problems
> finding reviews and thereby verifying the quality of the books themselves.
> AlA did a search for us, as well, and couldn't locate reviews. (The books
> are published by specialty presses.)
> Yes, we understand that gift books need to meet selection policy guidelines
> before admission to the collection, but our policy is quite vague, as are,
> I find, the Library Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read Statement. There
> seems to be a lot more information available to help defend already purchased
> items and to help keep librarians from acting on their biases.
> Three final points: We may very well have to defen the inclusion of the donated
> items to citizens on the other side of the issue, and this may be difficult
> without reviews. The issue of quality is touchy; we don't bring it up when
> ordering best-sellers, romances, biographies, etc. We want to be careful
> not to set a precedent.
> We will greatly appreciate any advice of feedback we can get.
> Thanks in advance.
> Dan Hubbs
> Crandall Library