Regional Differences in Collecting Freethought Books in American Public Libraries: A Case of Self-Censorship? 1

  • Stephen Sloan
  • The Library Quarterly, April 2012, University of Chicago Press
  • DOI: 10.1086/664577

A study relating to the collecting atheist books in public libraries

What is it about?

Atheists are one of the most discriminated groups in American society. This report set out to examine whether this discrimination could be found in public library collections. The basic thesis was that some librarians will not add atheist materials to their collections. I attempted to throw some light on this issue by searching public library catalogues in two regions of the U.S. I was able to show that libraries in the most highly religious areas collected atheist books with less frequency then in the least religious area of the country. In the study, I also compared the collection of atheist material to religious books published at the same time.

Why is it important?

Marginalization of minority views is always a problem in a democratic society. The suppression of atheist voices happens in many ways in America. I was hoping to find that libraries would be a welcoming place for the freethinker, but it appears this is not always the case.

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The following have contributed to this page: Mr Stephen M Sloan