Posting to Autocat
On 9/9/2015 4:45 PM, Nathan Rinne wrote:
I would only note that when Jim says “For instance, the collection-development librarians should not buy materials based only on their own opinions of what is right or wrong” I do think that this, actually, is largely impossible to do (and it’s often a good thing that libraries do not collect material that*advocates* for certain views). Also, of course private religious institutions should be able to make such decisions in accordance with their school’s mission.
It is possible to do, as I discovered with my example of the library’s books about globalization. It can happen naturally, as it did there, when the faculty are the ones selecting the books for the library.
I have spoken with several collection-development librarians and faculty members, and there is a danger of skewed collections such as this, when selection is left in the hands of the faculty. Faculty are very concerned about academic freedom, as they should be. This means that in the classroom, they are free to discuss any ideas they want. Of course, this also means that they are equally free to ignore any ideas they do not like. Again, this is all fine.
When faculty are selecting the books for the library’s collection, it is completely different from selecting books to be used in their classrooms. While they are perfectly free to exclude any books they want from their syllabi, in a library there are other needs so that the collection does not just reflect the views of the selectors.
In the case of the books on globalization, the teacher was very anti-globalization and had anti-globalization books on the syllabus. The library bought those books and … that was it. And the collection was skewed as a result.
Some/many faculty can deal with this but others cannot and they see it as an offense against their academic freedom. As an example, there was a famous writer (to be unnamed) who selected the literature books at a university. This writer absolutely hated Dostoyevsky and refused to have anything to do with him or his works in class. That was fine and is a vital part of academic freedom, but: he also refused to buy anything by or about Dostoyevsky for the library. As a result, the collection was skewed until a trained librarian took over selection and brought the collection into more balance.