Library Lesson Links

Intellectual Freedom and Censorship

A. Note the legal sources of Canadians' rights to freedom of expression and inquiry:

1. Read Article 2b of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms at and quote it.

2. Read Article 19 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights at" and paraphrase it.

B. View the video clips at margaret_laurence/ and margaret_laurence/ and answer the following questions:

1. Why do some people object to Margaret Laurence's works being in school library collections?
2. How does Margaret Laurence defend the inclusion of her works in school libraries?
3. What do think is the best solution to this disagreement? Why?
4. How could a citizen influence decisions such as this one about education?

C. Using an electronic database, find and read Elaine O'Connor's article from The Ottawa Citizen, May 1, 2003, D1, entitled "Library board OK's Net filters for children" and answer the questions that follow:

1. What decision did the Ottawa Library make regarding filters?
2. What were the arguments in support of using filters?
3. What were the arguments against the use of filters?
4. Do you agree with the final decision? Why?
5. What phrase in the sixth paragraph means "unreasonable restriction of information"?
6. How could a citizen influence decisions made by the library board?
+ Go to the city web site and find out about "City Hall" and "Advisory Committees, Boards and Task Forces."
+ Go to the library web site and find out who the Library Board members are.

D. Sign up for one of the following topics (or a similar topic approved by your teacher) and and answer the questions that follow. Be prepared to report back to the class on the library, event, issue or personality and his or her relationship to the issue of intellectual freedom and censorship. The report could take the form of an oral presentation, poster or web page as long as it clearly answers all of the questions.

1. What was the target of the censorship campaign?
2. When and where did this incident of censorship occur?
3. What form did the censorship take?
4. What was the motivation of the censors? (Explain the conflicting principles.)
5. What were the consequences (intended and actual) of the censorship campaign?

i) destruction of the Hakim Nasser Khosrow Balkhi Cultural Center and its library
ii) censorship of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451
iii) destruction of Tamil Library of Jaffna
iv) destruction of Mefiste Haskalah Library in Vilna
v) destruction of the Vijecnica in Sarajevo
vi) firebombing of United Talmud Torahs School Library
vi) Caliph Omar and the Library of the Palace of the Ptolemies
vii) censorship of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses
viii) censorship in Canada during World War I or World War II
ix) Index Librorum Prohibitorum
x) Grand Councilor Li Ssu's "burning of the books" during the Ch'in dynasty
xi) NAZI book burnings in Germany in 1933
xii) censorship of M.J. Barker and T.C.Sobey's Courting Disaster
xiii) censorship of C. Hoy and V. Ostrovsky's By Way of Deception: A Devastating Insider's Portrait of the Mossad
xii) censorship of Stephen King's Different Seasons in Lanark County
xiv) persecution of Ottawa Citizen reporter Juliet O'Neill
xv) persecution of Hamilton Spectator reporter Ken Peters
xvi) censorship of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird
xvii) censorship of Margaret Laurence's The Diviners
xviii) censorship of Kevin Major's Hold Fast
xix) censorship of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books
xx) censorship of Timothy Findlay's The Wars
xxi) censorship of George Orwell's Animal Farm
xxii) censorship of Boris Pasternak's Dr. Zhivago
xxiii) The John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath
xxiii) On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
xxiv) censorship of the Popol Vuh or Council Book
xxv) censorship of Taslima Nasrin's Shame
xxvi) censorship of The Koran
xxvii) censorship of The Bible
xxviii) censorship of Gallileo's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems
xxix) censorship of The Pentagon Papers
xxx) censorship of Robert Cormier's I am the Cheese

Sources of Additional Information:

Battles, Matthew. Library: An Unquiet History. New York: W.W. Norton, 2003.

Bennett, Hugh. "The top shelf: The censorship of Canadian childrens and young adult literature in the
schools." Canadian Children's Literature #68. 1992. Canadian Children's Press. 18 January 2005

Blume, Judy, ed. Places I Never Meant to Be: Original Stories by Censored Writers. New York: Simon and
Schuster, 1997.

"Freedom to Read Week." Freedom to Read. 2004. Book and Periodical Council. 18 Jan. 2005

Karolides, Nicholas J., Margaret Bald and Dawn B. Sova. 100 Banned Books. New York: Checkmark Books,

Lerner, Fred. The Story of Libraries. New York: Continuum, 2002.



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