The author is dead? Should Irish libraries censor items based on an author's wrongdoings

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Burke, Thomas
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MSc Information and Library Management
Dublin Business School
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The emergence of social movements such as #MeToo has cast a spotlight on the criminal behaviour of authors and other artists. If one looks through the shelves of a public library in Ireland at the books one cannot but struck by amount of titles that were written by authors who have committed some criminal or moral transgression. Is there any criminal or moral transgression that is beyond the pale? Is there a hierarchy of crimes committed and is there a statute of limitation on authors who have committed crimes in the past, no matter what they have done? Who decides what criminal or moral transgression is more egregious than another? All academic writing and library policy documents state that censorship is unacceptable in the sphere of public libraries and the unfettered access to information and materials to the public is an absolutist ideology. This research project examined if this was really the case and through qualitative methods sought to find an answer to: can one really separate the art from the artist? A series of in-depth interviews with five library experts gathered primary data to find an answer to this and to explore should librarians be the final arbiter on what should be on the library shelves; could the censorship of an item on the basis of authors behaviour happen in Ireland; and what to do with problem authors. The results were unambiguous: censorship is an anathema to librarianship as a profession no matter what an author does, and it is up to librarians and patrons to decide what should be stocked.