Tom Hall interviews Elizabeth Beairsto for National Library Week in this article. Beairsto had just returned from a conference that was sponsored by the Oregon Educational Association and is worried about the growing trend of censorship of public school reading materials. She says the trend is coming from activist conservative organizations, also known as the “New Right”. According to the OEA 35 percent of districts had experienced some degree of censorship. Beairsto has seen the New Right lobby as far away as Texas and the librarian says that since Texas has so much money to spend on schoolbooks the entire publishing industry will follow what they do. 95 percent of Springfield High School’s purchasing comes from approved sources and yet parental complaints are increasing. Beairsto says that when she asks if the parent has read the book the most common answer is no. She then will ask the parent to read the material, discuss it with their children, and to be open to different points of view. Beairsto also states that if they only had books that everyone agreed with, then there wouldn’t be a library at all.
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