Saturday, March 16, 2013

Quote of the Day: Moon on Parental Despotism

"We need to take a hard look at the rights of the young to access information. It is an issue we have avoided for far too long. And what seems to have become our traditional stance—that it is up to parents to control the reading and viewing of their offspring—may be politically expedient but it isn't particularly principled.

The arrival of compulsory education provided one escape route for those children whose parents seemed determined to establish a dynasty of ignorance. Some parents still struggle to protect their children from education but, by and large, society has come to accept education as among the rights of the young. Society usually does things for selfish reasons, however, and this may be no more than acceptance that the need for an educated next generation to continue or improve upon what we have wrought is so important that it must even supersede the rather despotic rights we have customarily accorded to parents.

The question for us, though, is do we then accept that the child's or young adult's right of access to knowledge stops when the school doors close? Do we believe that education happens only in school, that libraries are not educational, that they are less important, less relevant than schools? If we do not believe these things, then how come we do not protest as strongly when an individual parent bars the door of the library (or the adult section) to his or her child as when the governor of a state stands in the schoolhouse door and bars entry to children who seek nothing more dangerous than an equal crack at a decent education?"

from Eric Moon's inaugural address as president for the American Library Association at the conference in Detroit in 1977, as quoted in Lillian Gerhardt's critical editorial on page 9 of the Sept. 1977 issue of School Library Journal.

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