The interrelatedness of book selection and censorship in public libraries with special reference to the position in the Republic of South Africa

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The thesis approached the investigation as to whether or not there is any interrelatedness between book selection and censorship in public libraries , in two ways : viz.(a) a review of the literature, and (b) an exploratory empirical investigation of the position in South Africa. The literature survey was the major part of the study in which the attention was focused on the current position in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the Republic of South Africa. As a means of introduction to the public library, a brief outline of the rise of libraries in the West was given, with special mention being made of the growth of literacy. The modern public library's aims and objectives in the three countries concerned were covered separately as these determine the formulation of a specific book selection policy. This in turn depends on two main factors, viz. the nature of the community being served and the theoretical principles of book selection. The possible negative effects of literary censorship on public libraries, realising their aims and objectives, is discussed by first giving an outline of literary censorship in the West. This is preceded by a discussion of the pros and cons of censorship which served as an introduction to the issue as• to whether or not censorship occurs in public libraries by examining such aspects as their assumptions, the response to complaints, and the reserve shelf. The empirical study served as a corollary to the above. It covered all the public libraries in South Africa which determine selection policy to any large extent, viz. the four provincial library services and the then autonomous municipal libraries. The rudimentary nature of the study resulted in no definitive statements being made. Nevertheless, it appeared that as their overseas counterparts , South African librarians did sometimes censor. It was concluded that all librarians sometimes censor so that there is an interrelatedness between book selection and censorship.

Bibliography: leaves 214-243.