Sunday, February 22, 2009

O.P.P. Yeah, You Know Me! Reflections on Intellectual Freedom.

O.P.P. Explained- Part II of Intellectual Property

If you didn't quite notice my repeated use of O.P.P. or my allusion to "naughty", let me begin this post with a bit of an explanation. I was a teen of the 1990's. It was (another) decade of rebellion, pushing the boundaries and fighting against censorship of "touchy" subjects. From the teens on 90210 having sex, getting addicted to drugs, and getting pregnant to our first TV shows boasting a homosexual lead. The song, O.P.P. is about another taboo subject, O.P.P. or "other people's property" discusses the subject of spousal cheating. Taking what ISN'T yours and celebrating the fact that you took it. If you would like to view the video, here is the link: I thought that it related particularly well with the subject of intellectual property and our right to protect what is ours and our obligation to respect others rights in return. It also provided a neat segway into intellectual freedom, as I'm sure that this song would not appear on any "educationally approved" resources.

Intellectual Freedom and the Elementary School Librarian

First of all, I'd like to wish you all a "HAPPY FREEDOM TO READ WEEK!!'
According to the British Columbia Library Association, "intellectual freedom is the right to read, view, hear, and discuss any idea on any subject". After reading the Intellectual Freedom Committee's, Kids Know Your Rights article I really began to question my own practice as a librarian. The brochure states, "if a book you like is removed from the school or public library because someone does not think a young person should read it, you have the right to argue against this decision".
This brochure really made me think about my own practice with book acquisition in my school. For example, I take requests from students for my fiction collection. If a student is eager to read a book that I can get my hands on, I will buy it, process it, and put it on the shelves. Recently, I have had MANY requests for the Twilight series, since I was eager to read the books, I made it a priority. I knew that they were written as a teen series so I read each book before putting out for circulation on my "mature fiction" shelf (thinking I was being responsible). Once I read
Breaking Dawn, I was sad to see the series end but realized that I did not want to put the fourth book in the series in my library. I felt that the content was too mature for even my grade seven students. When asked about the book, I told the students my reasons for not offering it in our library and suggested that if they really wanted to read it they could take it out from the public library or put it on their "Christmas wish list".
Am I In The Wrong?

So, after reading Helen Adam's article, Intellectual Freedom 101 and Information Power: Guidelines for School Media Programs, I feel that in my own attempt to be a responsible elementary TL, I have stepped on the rights of my students. According to "Information Power", one of my duties is to "guard against barriers to intellectual freedom, such as grade-level or age restrictions........". In my eagerness to be "responsible" and to promote reading at the grade 7 level, I have inadvertently created restrictions in my library. The initial purpose of my "grade 7 shelf" was to bring in more mature novels that would interest my older students and keep some of the more "riskier" books out of the hands of younger students. I am guilty of censorship!

A Plea to My Readers

How do teacher-librarians balance the responsibility to provide developmentally-appropriate materials to either enhance curriculum or provide rich reading opportunities without stepping on our students rights but also have the trust of the parents and our administrators that students are accessing content that is welcome in schools? HELP!!!!
Photographer: Florian.B

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