Does a book challenge HAVE to be a big deal?

New librarians often worry about how to handle a book challenge, making sure they understand the full materials,challenge process and worrying how they might respond. I have always found that an informal, friendly approach has worked.

when one comes up, why not try to handle it informally first? Parents at my school sometimes sent messages objecting to a book either to the classroom teacher or to the principal. For some reason, they never sent them to me. The classroom teacher or principal would always pass it on to me and let me handle it informally. I usually sent a letter praising the parent for being invlolved and caring enough to be vigilant about reading material and reading with their child. I would promise to read the book, look over the reviews thoroughly etc. I would also include my initial opinions about the book, and let them know that I would certainly read it completely. If the book turned out to be a more appropriate choice for an older grade level, then I promised to switch its location to the upper library. We were a k-12 library for most of my career. In 30 years, I had about five such incidents. No one ever responded to any of those letters, or escalated the challenge any further, so I assume they were satisfied.

I guess I am just saying that if something can be dealt with quietly, it might be best to go that route. Then…make sure you have a policy in place that includes an informal letter/conference and then a more detailed policy when the informal route does not result in a satisfactory conclusion between parent and librarian.

Good luck!

PS. When I say dealing with a situation quietly, I do NOT mean making the book disapear. I mean I truly read it, decided where it wasmbest placed, and if it was a valuable addition to our collection. Sometimes I did move it to the upper level library, sometimes I left it where it was. I don’t recall ever removing a book completely.

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