In 1984 Canada’s Book and Periodical Council announced that it was sponsoring a new initiative, Freedom to Read Week. It declared: “While there have not been any public book burnings, a quieter form of censorship exists in Canada. Often the suppression of a book is done so quickly the public is not even aware it has happened. Censorship is becoming an acceptable way of dealing with social issues of concern to Canadians.”
By the late 1980’s there were almost exactly a thousand public libraries and library systems throughout Canada, with more than three thousand service points. In 1988 the Canadian Library Association undertook a survey of Canadian library censorship of incomparable scope, depth, and geographic coverage. That study found that 70 percent of public libraries had some or all of the basic institutional access policies that relate to intellectual freedom. These include policies relating to selection of materials, patron objections, and donations of materials; objections forms; and support of the Canadian Library Association’s Statement on Intellectual Freedom. Some 60 percent of the libraries also reported that they did not restrict the access of children and young adults to materials. Nevertheless, the study found that between 1985 and 1987 an average of one direct challenge a day to materials occurred throughout the country.
Almost as many different titles were challenged between 1985 and 1987 as there were challengers:...
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