Banned Books Week: Pit Bulls and Tenacious Guard Dogs

Title: Pit Bulls and Tenacious Guard Dogs
Author: Carl Semencic
Banned in: Logan, Australia’s West Library
For: being about prohibited breeds

I wasn’t able to read this one since my library doesn’t own it (it’s over 20 years old), but here’s the write up from the ALA of the reasons why it was banned:

Banned at the Logan, Australia West Library (2011) because it contains information on restricted dog breeds. In 2001, under Local Law 4 (Animal Management) the Logan City Council placed a ban on, among others, pit bull terriers and American pit bulls. Therefore, Logan City Council libraries do not stock literature on any of the prohibited breeds. Source: May 2011, p. 120.

I think it’s interesting that the books are prohibited just because the breeds are. Libraries usually have books about drugs–for children and adults–because even though they’re illegal, people are still curious about them and want information. Having information about them isn’t against the law–possessing them is, which is why I don’t really understand this library’s decision. Restricting access to information on a topic just because you can seems like a bad precedent.

On the other hand, I am side eyeing this library a little for their 20-year-old dog manual. Is it possible that this book was weeded, not for content, but just because its condition was getting gross? Since I was once an intern in the non-fiction department, I imagine the conversation went like this:

Intern: This dog book is 20 years old and getting kind of tattered. The pages are all yellow.
Librarian: Ew, yeah, and what’s that stain?
Intern: It’s about breeds that you can’t even have here anyway.
Librarian: Weed it like a dandelion!!!!

“Weeding” is the technical librarian term for the process of taking books out of the collection for damages, general deterioration, or inaccuracy (like a book about a country that has undergone some kind of upheaval and their whole system of government has changed was always the example I was given). I can definitely see how “well, these breeds are illegal anyway” would be the deciding factor in whether or not to weed an old book that’s condition is borderline. I would probably make that call myself, especially since anyone truly interested in the breed can (presumably–I don’t live in Australia) still find that information on the internet, even at the library’s computers. However, if this is just a systematic excising of information about prohibited breeds from the library’s collection–and the sentence “Logan City Council libraries do not stock literature on any of the prohibited breeds” leads me to think it might be–I am shaking my head in disapproval. I would agree that, depending on funds, buying new titles about the restricted breeds–particularly owner’s manuals rather than simply informational books–probably wouldn’t be high on the library’s priority list, but why remove all existing information, which is costing you nothing but shelf space?

Which, admittedly, is sometimes also at a premium. It’s hard to decide without knowing the library’s and the book’s specifics. Sorry I don’t have more deets. I promise to have a book I’m actually able to read tomorrow.

Previously: Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India
Next: The What’s Happening to my Body? Book For Boys

Comments are closed.

Site and contents are © 2009-2018 Patricia Ladd, all rights reserved. | Admin Login | Design by Steven Wiggins.