Self Reflection on Soft Censorship

As attacks on libraries (and librarians) have escalated recently, it has become apparent that the threat of soft- (or self-) censorship is potentially more a threat to collections for our youth than official book challenges. We encourage youth services librarians (both school and public) to reflect on collection development, displays, and programming practices with questions like these:

  • Am I familiar enough with my district selection policy and professional code of ethics to defend my selection and deselection choices?  (Do I need to keep copies of both at hand to reinforce decisions?)
  • What titles am I prejudging based on “buzz?” Am I making an effort to consider professional reviews and recognitions to make objective choices based on policy and ethics?
  • Do I avoid choices that I am concerned could provoke challenges? Would those choices be justified by our selection and deselection policies?
  • Is my discomfort with certain forms and genres leading me to avoid purchasing those forms and genres? What will help me decrease that discomfort to meet my community’s needs and preferences? 
  • Are my programming and displays reflective of my community as a whole as well as its integral parts? What changes or additions might appeal to populations who tend to use the library less than others?
  • Does my collection reflect the needs of our community or the personalities and preferences of the librarians who’ve developed the collection?  What tools can I use to balance the collection for our current community, including those we want to attract as well as current users? 

A future post from the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Joint Committee on School/Public Library Cooperation will provide scenarios related to the above questions; please help us crowd-source this by submitting additional questions and scenario ideas to

Author: AASL/ALSC/YALSA Joint Committee on School Library/Public Library Cooperation

Categories: Collection Development

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