Saturday, February 25, 2017

Week 7 Prompt

I Am Jazz, was published September 4, 2014. I dutifully read multiple reviews of the title including those from: Kirkus, School Library Journal, Booklist,  Library Media Connection, and Horn. All of these reviews agreed that this was an important and necessary book to add to juvenile collections. Our community is fairly conservative so, I also read reviews from goodreads, Common Sense Media, and parental reviews on Amazon so I could be aware of potential issues that might arise once this book landed on the new book shelf. I even went to Barnes and Nobel and read it myself before deciding to purchase it.

I referred to our collection policy to make sure that I could justify the purchase to patrons and management: 

     "It is the goal of the library to own or have ready access to a sufficient number of informational resources with sufficient scope, depth, relevance, and accuracy in a variety of useful formats for the purpose of providing information; education and instruction; cultural experience and growth; and meaningful recreation to the library's public...The library recognizes that many books, magazines and newspapers are controversial and that any given item may offend someone. Selections will not be made on the basis of any assumed approval or disapproval, but solely on the merit of the work as it relates to the library's purpose and as it serves the needs and interests of the community as a whole."

I thought I was prepared, educated, and justified. The book circulated several times without incident. 

One afternoon a regular patron brought his daughter to storytime. He usually reads all of the picture books before he decides to check them out and often gives me his opinion on titles he doesn't "approve of." There will be no pink princess books at his house. That day, he walked into my office, carrying I Am Jazz, and asked who was responsible for ordering the children's books. I told him that I was, and was reaching for the acquisitions policy, when he asked me where I got my suggestions from. I explained how many sources I use,  how carefully I read reviews, and that I try to curate a diverse collection with titles for everyone, as well as following current issues. He asked me where those came from and I told him professional literature.He then went on a rant about how medically impossible it is for children as young as Jazz to know that they are transgender. (He is a dentist.) He said that I was promoting a lie and should take the book out of the collection. I explained that this book is non-fiction and based on a real person, whose picture is on the back of the book.

He asked who else he could speak with, so I gave him the name, phone number, and email of the Director. Yes, he did write her. She and I discussed the title and my information supporting the selection, which remains in my collection.


  1. Suzanne, it sounds like you have a good collection policy in place at your library along with the support of your director. I think the last part of the one sentence "it serves the needs and interests of the community as a whole" is a key component in justifying having I Am Jazz as part of your library collection.

    1. Yes, I am very lucky to have such an extensive policy and supportive director. I have used the policy to both justify purchases such as I Am Jazz as well as not purchase items that are not supported with professional reviews. I'd be glad to send you the link for the entire policy if you are interested.

  2. This is such an important story you have. Books are challenged all the time in libraries. People get offended easily and don't believe others should have the privilege of make decisions for themselves. Great job directing him to the policies!

  3. Wonderful story! Thanks for sharing! I'm glad you have such a great policy in effect. Full points!

  4. Wow, thank you so much for sharing this story, Suzanne. This was wonderful not only because of your standing up for a challenged book, but as a really concrete example of how to handle such a challenge!