Re: adding porn to collection

M. Troy Davis (
Tue, 28 Jan 2003 10:12:32 -0800 (PST)

This is an interesting discussion and I appreciate the responses of those
who actually have dealt with this. I guess I agree with Gary and the
others, and I've always considered (and perhaps I am under the influence
post-structuralism or hyper-structuralism) pornography to be about
representation, not sex, thus fair game for academic study, particularly
cinema/visual/cultural studies. As a subject selector, I'm responsible for
developing collections that support instruction and research, porno or

Troy Davis
University of Tennessee Libraries

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> I honestly NEVER envisioned, when I signed up for this listserve, that
> this issue would ever need to be addressed.
> It amazes me that someone would try to legitimize pornography in an
> Educational setting, and worse yet, in an Educational Media Resource
> Center. I took a quick look around the Internet and didn't find a large
> selection of Universities offering Pornography 101. It sounds like your
> "faculty member" should purchase the titles out of their budget and
> house them in their location.
> Picture this scenario. Maureen Tripp keeps porn in her library. Down the
> road, it will still be the same old argument once someone asks, and
> your answer is "...oh...that's not mine...really!!!". "I keep it here
> just to study." "No...wait...what I mean is that it's for some
> classes." "And as Media Librarian, I guess you had to preview it to
> make sure it was free of objectionable bias and contains content
> relevant to the Curriculum".
> C'mon!!!!
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> At 08:27 AM 1/28/03 -0800, you wrote:
>> 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 hi