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Kalamazoo Public Library's Statement Regarding Dr. Seuss

The news that Dr. Seuss Enterprises would cease publication of six Dr. Seuss children’s titles has prompted vigorous discussion here at the Kalamazoo Public Library (KPL), across the library and publishing worlds, and in the popular media as well. The question of when it is appropriate to pull titles from our shelves gets to the core of the value KPL places in what the American Library Association calls “The Freedom to Read”.

Ultimately, KPL Administration has decided that we will not pull any of the six Dr. Seuss titles from our shelves.

As troubling as some images or text are, KPL stands firmly against censorship. The titles in question have problematic elements; however, there is a place for titles such as these within the canon of children’s literature. These titles can be used to illustrate how far the world of children’s publishing has come and help illustrate how far we still have to go. What we read and how we read and understand it often changes over time as individuals gain life experiences and society itself shifts and changes. These experiences have prompted several discussions over the years regarding stereotypes in children’s books and how we should handle them. It is up to us to offer similar titles that present a fuller picture or have more diversity reflected within. Critical thinking and reading are healthy habits for all of us to foster. The decision by Dr. Seuss Enterprises is an opportunity for adults to think critically about Dr. Seuss’ books, decide whether to share these books with the children in their lives, and participate in discussions with children and adults alike on the topic of race and racial prejudice.

KPL deeply values feedback and input from the community we serve, including questioning our decisions about titles in our collections. We maintain a process for titles in our collections to be questioned by members of the community through our Citizen’s Request for Reconsideration of Library Material procedures that ensure each request is considered thoughtfully.

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