This semester I took a course covering issues of intellectual freedom and young adult services at libraries. Intellectual freedom is a fascinating issue, and one that I am very happy to support through my work at the library. It is interesting to see how the freedom to read pertains to children and teens - it is often from parents that challenges come, and so being familiar with how to handle material challenges is critical for any librarian serving young adults.
The first book that we used, and the one that we spend the most time in, was The New Inquisition, by James LaRue. This is a fantastic book that should be on the shelf of any library, and should be read by every library worker. It gives insight into why challenges happen, and how to handle them effectively, by trying to understand the patron's concern, rather than becoming defensive. LaRue also gives some great practical tips for handling challenges.
Another book that we looked at, but didn't spend too much time in was Radical Reads, by Joni Bodart. This book gives a list of 101 books that are all controversial titles, and why they should be recommended to teens. In addition to summaries and bibliographic information, she includes reviews, booktalks, curriculum tie-ins, and much more for each title. The appendices also include information on building a rationale for books in your collection that you think may be considered controversial, and may come up against challenges.
A third book that we used in this class pertained more towards customer service. That book was Defusing the Angry Patron, by Rhea Joyce Rubin. This book examined the reasons behind anger, and offered ways to approach different people based on the source of their anger. This is a very practical book, and would be great for anyone who works in customer service, although it is tailored to libraries.
A final book that I found very useful for this class was the American Library Association's 2007 edition of Banned Books, by Robert Doyle. This book includes all of the books that have been challenged recently and why, in alphabetical order by author's last name. There are also indexes of authors, regions, and reasons for the challenges, as well as information on critical court cases. This book is invaluable for anyone studying the reasons why specific books have been challenged in the past. It is amazing to see how challenges still come up every year, even for classic titles.