Rebecca Blom on school library book selection and challenges

Elkhorn Area High School library media specialist Rebecca Blom describes how K-12 librarians seek to assemble a broad selection of books for students as the district changes standards for challenges.

By Nathan Denzin | Here & Now

April 23, 2024 • Southeast Region

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Rebecca Blom:
I think the biggest thing here in the library is when you pick out books, there's like a phrase that you want books to be mirrors, windows, and doors. Have you ever heard that? So, you want children to be able to see themselves in some of these books. Some of the books, you want them to be windows where they can see into the lives of other people and have a new understanding of something they may not experience themselves, but develop that empathy and whatnot for other students and people that are around them every day. And then, the glass doors are like being able to transport students into places they may never be able to go or places that don't exist, and it just ignites that curiosity and that wonder, and it's what reading's all about. You know, some students come from lives that aren't the easiest, and books are a way for them to escape some of that in a healthy, you know, wonderful way. So, I would just say the more diverse selection we have in here, the more opportunity we have for these kids to really grow and have a better understanding of themselves and everyone that surrounds them each day, just turns them into good people.

Nathan Denzin:
So with all that said, are you happy now that this procedure for challenging books has changed so that one parent can't just take all of these books off at one time?

Rebecca Blom:

Nathan Denzin:
Even if they go back, are you happy that that, you know, happened?

Rebecca Blom:
Yes, it's going to make things a lot more seamless. One of our biggest questions from students that would come in was, "How does one person have so much control over what I'm reading and over my parents allowing me to read these books? And so, it was a valid question, and I think now, like the right steps are in place to make it, you know, the best way for both librarians and our admin and our kids and, you know, it's just going to be a much more sensible way to approach this. My parents have the right to question certain books, especially if they are, you know, of certain context and whatnot. But I think that this is much more, I don't know what the word is, but not such a mess. It's a lot less messy.

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