Question: Would you buy Katharine DeBrecht’s Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed! book for your library? The short answer is that if there is a demand for it, yes, I would buy it despite that I personally believe that the book is misguided indoctrination. I believe that the book depicts people based on their political views as monsters. I don’t think that for a child’s development labeling any group of peoples in such negative terms is helpful, because it creates prejudices in the child. Later s/he may look at a person’s affiliations instead of the person itself to form a judgment.
However as a librarian, I should not allow my own value system to influence whether a book should be included in a library’s collection or not. That should be decided based upon the collection development policy. As I live in Seattle (and don’t work in a library) I looked at the Seattle Public Library’s Selection policy. It states four needs the collection aims to serve:
1. To enhance humanity and the enjoyment of life according to the full exercise of free choice I believe this book in itself does not serve the first half of the above. The book teaches hate and talks about the opposite of enjoyment, how liberals ruin little kids’ lives. However I also acknowledge that for some parents reading this kind of materials is joyful. (There must be quite a few of them, because the book is the 28,346th most popular amongst Amazon’s millions of books.) The parents have the right to give it to their children. Therefore (and to ensure the second half of the above criterion) the book can be included in a library collection.
2. To assist in developing the skills and abilities needed for economic success If one agrees with the dog-eat-dog worldview then this book can be helpful in this regards. It teaches to protect yourself against your enemies. It teaches work ethics and deals with economic issues. Albeit it does from a very different angle than I am coming from.
3. To develop the social awareness and knowledge needed for self-government and successful participation in a diverse community This book excels in the self-government regard, as it attacks over-taxation, i.e. “big government.” However it fairs poorly in the diverse community regard wit its disrespect of people other than conservatives.
4. To encourage and enhance personal, artistic, and intellectual growth I do not see how this book does any of this.
To tally it up: Point 1 and 2 suggest that it should be included, half of point 3 does too, but point 4 does not. Thus the score is 2.5 vs 1.5 for inclusion.
Furthermore the SPL policy states: The Library neither encourages nor discourages any particular viewpoint. No material will be excluded because of the race, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political or social views of the author.
Because of this the book definitely has the right to be included. Despite my better judgment I would put it in the children’s section, because the young ones are the targeted audience. And the parent can make the decision whether to borrow it or not.