Sunday, September 2, 2012

The 30th Anniversary of Banned Books Week

This year, from September 30th to October 6th, libraries across the state of Florida will be participating in the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week. The purpose of Banned Books Week is to draw attention to the fact that many books have been challenged or banned throughout history, for reasons of content deemed by some to be inappropriate. This is not just a part of history, either. Did you know that books continue to be challenged today? Some notable recent examples are the Harry Potter books and The Hunger GamesHere you can read the American Library Association's list of the ten most frequently challenged books of 2011.

Floridians might be interested to know that two of the most challenged authors of the 20th century have lived in Key West, FL: Ernest Hemingway and Judy Blume. 

Hemingway, a Key West resident during winters in the 1930s, is now regarded as an important American author whose work has significant literary merits. However, he also faced constant censorship for his realistic portrayals of warfare and human relationships. As this article relates, in 1941 the U.S. Post Office refused to mail copies of For Whom the Bell Tolls, Hemingway's novel about the Spanish Civil War, because of the book's references to Communism. Another Hemingway novel, A Farewell To Arms, was banned in countries around the world for its frank depiction of violence and sexuality. The novel has also been challenged, according to the ALA, for allegedly exemplifying "a belief in a universe indifferent to people's suffering." The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway's modernist novel about American expatriates living in Spain, has also been banned in several countries, and is #18 on the ALA's list of the 100 most banned classic works. 

Judy Blume, who currently resides in Key West, has written many best-selling novels for children and young adults. Her novels explore the topics of adolescence, sexuality, family and school issues, bullying, and other subjects that many young people have related to. Yet despite the fact that she, like Hemingway, is an author of novels that have been recognized for their literary qualities, Blume has also had many of her books challenged and banned due to their depiction of adolescent life. In this interview from 2008, Blume says that defying censorship is important to her, because she feels that what she writes about is an honest reflection of what young readers deal with in their everyday lives. Five of Blume's books were on the ALA's list of the 100 most challenged books of 1990-1999. In fact, as a literary leader in the anti-censorship movement, Blume has been a participant in Banned Books Week activities. Here is a clip filmed during Banned Books Week's Virtual Read-Out of 2011, where Blume comments on her views about censorship.

Here is a Pinterest board that Amanda Sarra, Director of Library Services at Everglades University in Boca Raton, FL, created as a way to publicize Banned Books Week. Pinterest is a tool that libraries can use to make creative visual interpretations of what Banned Books Week represents.

You can read more here about 2012's Banned Books Week. If you have ideas for how libraries can participate in this year's Banned Books Week, or if you are wondering about how your library can participate, contact FLA's Intellectual Freedom Committee chairperson, Robin Shader, at 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Brevard County public libraries add "Fifty Shades of Grey" to shelves

The public libraries in Brevard County, FL, initially refused to add the best-seller Fifty Shades of Grey to their shelves. They have recently changed course and will now add the book to their collections. You can read about that update here

The book, written by British author E.L. James, is about a young woman who gets involved with a domineering 27-year-old billionaire. Graphic scenes of a sexual nature led library officials to initially consider the book pornographic in nature and not of literary significance. You can read more about the initial decision to ban here and here.
Jonathan Kelley, the program coordinator for the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, posted about Fifty Shades of Grey on the OIF’s Blog. That blog post is found here. Kelley states: “Recent controversy over the novel ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ has sparked discussion about the line between selection and censorship in libraries. Where selection decisions are guided by the professional ethics of librarianship – which emphasize inclusion, access and neutrality – libraries choosing not to purchase materials that fall outside of their defined collection policies and needs are not censors. Where partisan disapproval or doctrinal pressure guides libraries’ decisions to select or remove materials, then censorship can result.”
What do you think? We would like any feedback you may have, about this or other intellectual freedom issues you may see appearing in Florida libraries. Add a comment to this blog post or email Robin Shader, the chair of our FLA Intellectual Freedom Committee, at or myself, at, and the rest of the committee will discuss your comments over email.

Monday, May 7, 2012

myOn E-book Library for Hillsborough County Students

Hillsborough County recently implemented an e-book program for elementary and middle school students throughout the county. The online library, called “Read on myON,” was funded by the Hillsborough County school district, along with community partners such as the Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative. The myON library offers access to over 2,000 e-books that students can read wherever they have Internet access. The goal of the project was to offer students from less-advantaged communities easier access to reading materials. Now, access to myOn has expanded to also include students from all different types of schools in the area. You can read more about this program here.

During an initial pilot version of myON, some parents voiced concerns over the lack of a parental controls option. They were upset about certain books that featured autopsy scenes and witchcraft, among other things. For more about the parents' objections, click here.

In response to those concerns, Capstone Digital, the makers of myON, is investigating the addition of a parental controls option, which would allow parents to delete from their children’s accounts any books that they deem to be inappropriate. The county school district has also taken some of the books that during the pilot version stage were seen by some parents as graphic or inappropriate, and restricted them from being accessed by elementary schoolers. Edit: In a comment to this post, a Capstone Digital senior product manager states that this move was taken in accordance with the school district's challenged books policy.

According to the American Library Association: “Library policies and procedures that effectively deny minors equal and equitable access to all library resources and services available to other users violate the Library Bill of Rights. The American Library Association opposes all attempts to restrict access to library services, materials, and facilities based on the age of library users.” However, the ALA does also state that: “We affirm the responsibility and the right of all parents and guardians to guide their own children's use of the library and its resources and services.” For more from the ALA on this topic, click here.

What do you think? We would like any feedback you may have, about this or other intellectual freedom issues you may see appearing in Florida libraries. Add a comment to this blog post or email Robin Shader, the chair of our Intellectual Freedom committee, at, or myself at, and the rest of the committee will discuss your comments over email.

Monday, March 26, 2012

UF Libraries debut online exhibition as companion to opening of the Harn Museum David A. Cofrin Asian Art Wing

Smathers Libraries have debuted the online exhibition “Korean Art: Collecting Treasures” ( to coincide with the March 30 opening of the Harn Museum’s David A. Cofrin Asian Art Wing and as a permanent companion to the temporary exhibition. The online exhibition features items from the Harn’s Korean holdings including bronzes, ceramics, furniture, paintings, prints and sculpture.

The online exhibition was designed by Lourdes Santamaría-Wheeler and curators were Jason Steuber, Allysa Browne Peyton and Lourdes Santamaría-Wheeler. Online content allows access to the collections of the libraries and the museum to an international audience, as well as to the local community and scholars.

All items featured in the online exhibition are also freely available as zoomable images in the University of Florida Digital Collections ( uniting the art objects with related texts in order to create a more complete research portal.

The exhibition highlights the Korean donations of General James A. Van Fleet (U.S. Army officer during WWI, WWII and the Korean War and UF football coach 1923-1924), including rare blue-and-white porcelains and hanging scroll masterpieces by Kim Hongdo (1745 - c.1806), Jang Seung-eop (1843-1897), and Kim Eunho (1892-1979), each noteworthy for their quality and rarity in Western collections.

Multimedia content is featured from an exceptionally rare 17th-century Korean gilt wood bodhisattva from the Joseon Dynasty which has been extensively researched through medical imaging at both North Florida Regional Medical Center and Shands at UF, high resolution digitization in the round at the UF Digital Library Center, and both art and paper conservation.

The UF Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere Library Enhancement Grant partially funded the online exhibition.

The Washington Post published an article Friday, March 23 (‘Buddha’ goes to the hospital: A convergence of science, history and art – featuring images of the Buddha from the University of Florida Digital Collections.

For more information contact: Lourdes Santamaría-Wheeler, (352) 273-2564,

Friday, August 19, 2011

Manatee Teens Geek the Library

These Florida teens from Manatee County Public Library have put together a great video about their passions. They all geek the library in a different way.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Unemployed without Internet service head to libraries

Sun Sentinel story describes impact on libraries of new Florida law requiring that unemployed persons now file claims online.,0,6365487,print.story

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

At The Library: Online Resources Available For Job Seekers

At The Library: Online Resources Available For Job Seekers
Published: Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 12:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, July 1, 2011 at 4:31 p.m.
Job-seekers often come to the library to search for jobs online; indeed, many companies expect prospective employees to fill out their applications, and submit their resumes electronically. Polk County libraries offer more than just Internet access.
Visit, and check out "Career Transitions" available on their home page. This is a well-conceived web application that residents access with their library card. Once validated, users can create a personal account and explore their career interests, prepare a proper resume, and search jobs via their database search tool.
Another opportunity -- the Job & Career Accelerator click on "Services" on the bar, then "Online Resources" to the left, and then the "Research" tab in the center pane. JCA is the bottom link, and invites users to create an account, validating with their library card number as "User Name." As above, JCA leads users to explore careers, create their resume, and search for jobs across many databases.
Contact your librarian for information on how to access these services.