Thursday, November 12, 2009

Restricted Classification Discussion

This question came over the Public Library Network and it raised a good discussion that I wanted to share with you:

Dear Colleagues
I have one book in the collection with the following information attached to the front cover:
The book in question is American psycho by Bret Easton Ellis.
I can find no record of a restricted classification recorded in the Australian government classification database, so I was wondering if any other libraries hold this title and, if so, do you restrict its borrowing??

One answer came back very quickly from the State Library:

American psycho by Bret Easton Ellis is restricted as a result of the national classification scheme in Australia see for details of its classification.

The Classification web site has a searchable database so that you can check if any title is under restricted access

Another comment:

Wow, that's a blast from the past. Quite controversial when it came out in 1991, at one point it looked like it would be banned outright. Certainly generated a lot of interest in the author and the book. There are only 8 holdings listed on LA so there aren't many copies around. I believe that you are legally required to restrict lending of the item to people under the age of 18 years. It must be shelved in such a way as to reasonably limit access to people under 18. It gets a bit grey around that last bit and that's really where you need to make a decision about what your local community would think reasonable. Closed stack access, or open shelving in the "adult section".We had a similar predicament with Kubrick's Clockwork Orange, a classic but restricted all the same.

And finally, a legislative answer, also from the State Library of NSW:

There are two pieces of legislation for NSW public library staff to be aware of re: items that have MA material and restricted classifications, ie:

(a) a film classified MA 15+ or R 18+
(b) a publication classified Category 1 restricted or Category 2 restricted
(c) a computer game classified MA 15+ or RC

Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995 (Cth)

Public Library Exemption under the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Enforcement Act 1995 (NSW)
The two Library Council of NSW publications that will be of most assistance are:

1. Library Council of New South Wales | Children's Policy Guidelines for NSW public libraries
(a simple summary of the relevant sections from both pieces of legislation is listed in Appendix 2 and Appendix 2a pp.14-15)
2. Library Council of New South Wales | Access to Information in New South Wales Public Libraries Guideline
(describes the role of NSW public libraries in relation to censorship)

What are your thoughts on Censorship?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the informative information - I enjoyed reading it! I always enjoy this blog. :) Cheers,