Saturday, December 30, 2017

Words will hurt me

In a worrying development, leftist university students at some universities have drawn up a list of trigger words, and demanded that any books containing them be removed from their campus libraries. This offends me as both a librarian, and a university graduate. This sort of talk of trigger warnings and microaggressions was unheard of back in my day. Students came to university to learn, to train for a career, and to participate in the free exchange of ideas.

Librarians should reject the idea of removing books because they offend some people. The Australian Library and Information Association has a core values statement. One of these values is to promote the free flow of information and ideas. Similarly, the American Library Association's core values statement states that "we uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources."

Even if education ministers nip this in the bud, that doesn't mean that the problem will go away. The idea may well spread to other universities, and may well turn out to be a persistent problem. I hope that my peers in the library profession resist it. If you don't like a book, don't read it. Problem solved.

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