Re: adding porn to collection

Gary Handman (
Tue, 28 Jan 2003 08:28:58 -0800 (PST)

Hi the post-post-mod world almost anything is grist for study and
conjecture. Seems to me that the only intellectually responsible thing to
do as librarians is respond to the flow. I think it's enormously important
to make the distinction between collection policy and public service
policy. The real issue (at least in my book) is NOT whether this stuff
should be collected and cataloged, but how to responsibly provide
access. There are a number of sticky (so to speak) issues here: if you
deliver porn in a facility with side-by-side viewing stations, I can
envision "issues" arising. On the other hand, I shudder to think about
providing access to porn in closed viewing rooms (whoopie!). There seem to
also be challenges related to circulation of this stuff (if you do, indeed,
circulate it).

At UCB we have Linda Williams, the academic doyen of porn (cf. Hard
Core: Power, Pleasure, and the "Frenzy of the Visible." UC Press,
1999)...a hard core user of hardcore. We've treated the collections
supporting her course as special collections, with circulation
restrictions. We do allow the stuff to be shown in group viewing rooms and
have had no...uh...surprises so far.

At 08:10 AM 1/28/2003 -0800, you wrote:
>A faculty member told me today she is teaching a course on pornography, and
>will be requesting several porn titles be purchased and added to the Media
>Services collection. Another instructor does research in this area, and the
>way we handled his materials (all of which were old, relatively tame titles
>from the 40s and 50s) was to purchase them from his department's budget, and
>house them in Media Services on reserve for him. In other words, they were
>never cataloged and added to the collection. The professor who talked to me
>today doesn't like this; says they should be included in the collection, and
>we should be "adult" about it.
>Our collection development policy does have a sentence saying we won't
>collect material with "scurrilous" content. nevertheless, I anticipate that
>other instructors and library staff will get involved in this. I'd be
>interested in any comments from list members. Thanks!
>Maureen Tripp
>Media Librarian
>Media Services Center
>180 Tremont St. 3rd Fl.
>Boston, MA 02116

Gary Handman
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley