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Books and policies continue to be challenged in Canadian libraries

(Ottawa, September 16, 2010)  The Canadian Library Association’s Advisory Committee on Intellectual Freedom has released the results of its annual survey of challenges to library resources and policies in Canada for 2009.

The most challenged author reported in the annual survey of Canadian libraries in 2009 was Charlaine Harris for her series of ten adult novels entitled The Southern Vampire Mysteries. The entire series was reported on four separate occasions within the same library system. Two other series were each challenged once,Negima! Magister Negi Magi, by Ken Akamatsu, a manga series of 29 titles known in Japan as Magical Teacher Negima!,and Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar, a young adult novel series of 15 titles that became the 2007 inspiration for the “Gossip Girl teen drama television series.

Only three individual titles were reported twice on the 2009 survey, a teen comedy film “Fired Up!” directed by Will Gluck, a children’s picture book Mummy Laid an Egg! by Babette Cole, and NOW Magazine. The children’s picture book And Tango Makes Three was again challenged in 2009, making it the only title to appear on the survey every year since it began in 2006.

Altogether, 139 challenges were reported in the 2009 survey conducted annually by the CLA Advisory Committee on Intellectual Freedom. Of these, 137 were to library resources and two were to library policies.

With so many challenges attributed to entire series of printed fiction in 2009, it is no surprise that books in general accounted for 83% of all formats challenged, while 10% were DVDs and videos and 4% were magazines. The most frequent reasons for challenges to library resources were sexually explicit (at 76%), age inappropriate (68%), offensive language (34%), violence (32%), nudity (28%), sex education (5%), racism (4%), and inaccuracy (4%). Multiple reasons for a challenge were common.

Two-thirds of all challenges occurred in public libraries in 2009, while school libraries reported 34% and academic libraries the remaining 2%. Teaching assistants were responsible for one-third of all challenges, patrons for 30%, parents and guardians for 20%, and library staff for 15%. Library materials were retained in 41% of the 2009 challenges, relocated or reclassified in 32% of cases, and removed in 25%.

Also reported in 2009 were two challenges to library policies. One challenge was to a music collection policy of acquiring CDs with “clean” rather than original lyrics, that is, excluding CDs with “parental advisory” labels. The other challenge was to a weeding policy of withdrawing books that had not circulated in ten years or more regardless of their status as presumed “classics”.  

Findings of the 2009 survey show that challenges continue to occur in publicly funded Canadian libraries, clear evidence that attention to intellectual freedom remains central to the work of Canadian librarians and sister association advocates across the cultural network. CLA President Keith Walker notes: "Libraries play a crucial role in the protection of intellectual freedom and have to be prepared to support the right of Canadians to read what they choose. Freedom to read can never be taken for granted."

The full report of the survey with a complete list of challenges can be found at:

The Canadian Library Association is Canada’s largest national and broad-based library association, representing the interests of public, academic, school and special libraries, professional librarians, library workers and library trustees, and all those concerned about enhancing the quality of life of Canadians through information and literacy.  Information about CLA and its programs and services is available at:

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