Public libraries as literary gatekeepers

I don’t have time to write anything lengthy today, but I wanted to share two enormously interesting articles about public libraries and the gatekeepers who determine what the library should and should not stock. Both of these are about Anne Carroll Moore, the first children’s librarian at the New York Public Library, who absolutely loathed quite a few children’s books that we now regard as classics.

This piece is on Moore’s hatred of Goodnight Moon, and how her decision to withhold her blessing prevented that book from being a commercial success. I can’t say that I knew much about Margaret Wise Brown before, but apparently she had quite a progressive attitude about children’s intellectual development.

This piece gets into Moore’s upbringing and her problems with Stuart Little.

There are a lot of different philosophies regarding what libraries should stock and whether activist librarians should attempt to shape the values of their time. This is especially true for children’s librarians, who are perhaps the only ones working with clients that remain impressionable.

Moore was insistent that children should only have access to the very highest quality of literature available. And she had clear standards regarding what she considered quality literature. She did not want to stock books written by authors who tried to situate themselves within the emergent psychology of children.

Nowadays, we have gatekeepers with the opposite standards as Moore – they promote overtly political books, usually written at the lowest reading levels, lacking in vocabulary words, and often offering contrarian narratives about historical events.

Outside of all of this, there are people who believe that libraries should be full of whatever could be potentially appealing to anyone at all. If kids want to read treacly books recounting their favorite television cartoons, they should have those. If women want to read soft-core porn romances about Amish people, they should have those.

I find this an endlessly fascinating topic.

3 thoughts on “Public libraries as literary gatekeepers

  1. Have uuiu seen who has taken over the ALA…leftiea have hijacked it, and aree now bringing the depraved transgendersmin for story hour. After reading the A LA was doubling down on these story hours I looked into it. They have a huge budget, are tied in with Bill and Melanida world wide running around polluting the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It truly annoys me that I pay dues to ALA because I need to have an ALA membership in order for my library to be considered for much needed grants for the children’s area. I need to know there are other people out there who share my views.

    Liked by 1 person

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