November 16, 2017

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Too Edgy for the Kids’ Section? | Scales on Censorship

Are there issues with teachers using Netflix or public library resources from Hoopla in a classroom setting? I think it is fine as long as they are using it for teaching purposes and not redistributing or downloading content. Am I wrong?
This is really a copyright issue, but my research tells me that it is okay as long as the resources are shown in a classroom setting. This means that the same resources can’t be used in a larger space, like an auditorium, cafeteria or gym. Teachers must be absolutely sure that the resources align with the material they are teaching at the time. I would encourage teachers to engage students in a discussion about the content or respond in a written assignment. Take a look at “Digital Delivery in the Classroom,” an article at published by the American Library Association.

Though it is legal to use these resources, your school district may have a policy that differs from the law. Check your district policy manual and distribute a copy of the policy to the faculty. If there is a discrepancy, it may be time to update the school district policy.

 A parent of a second grader has approached me about monitoring what her “gifted” son borrows from the library. She doesn’t want him bringing home picture books. I’ve noted that the student is very immature and still enjoys reading picture books. I can’t make the mother understand that he needs to be reading at his emotional level. What do I tell her?
Don’t assume that the parent will be receptive to the idea that her son isn’t emotionally ready for the books she calls “challenging.” She is focusing totally on reading level, and she is assuming that all picture books are easy to read. And please remind teachers in your school that picture books don’t necessarily connote “easy.” I can think of many picture books that have a lot of text and challenging vocabulary. Invite the parent, and even the faculty, in and show them examples. You might consider introducing high-interest, challenging nonfiction, such as the works of David McCauley.

 Let the parent know that her child’s reading development is of interest to you and his teachers, but that you don’t monitor a child’s book selections. If she doesn’t like what the child brings home, then she should take it up with her child. All students, regardless of reading level, should be encouraged to explore all types of books.

I’m a branch librarian in a large public library system. Our children’s and teen books are shelved together in a section of the library that isn’t physically separated from the adult collection. We have recently had complaints that the teen books are too edgy for the children’s section. How do I handle this?
Young adult books attract much older readers now. For this reason, many public libraries, especially branch libraries with space issues for a designated teen section, shelve the teen books with the adult books. This practice attracts more teen users.

That doesn’t mean that teens can’t borrow books in the children’s section. And, public libraries are encouraged to allow people of all ages, including children, to use the entire collection.

We have a fifth grade student whose parents want to be notified of all the books read aloud in class. This request has made the teacher nervous about reading aloud to her students. I want to show support of the teacher, but she is so nervous that I’m at a lost for words to calm her.
Teachers should feel the freedom to make spontaneous reading choices, which doesn’t allow time for notifying the parents. If a student feels uncomfortable, then allow the child to leave class and go to the library, or ask her to be a teacher’s helper and run errands during the time a book is read aloud. The message to convey to the teacher: don’t punish all students because one parent has made an unreasonable request.

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Pat Scales About Pat Scales

Pat Scales is the former chair of the American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee. You can send your questions or comments on censorship to her at pscales@bellsouth.net.

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Comments

  1. Nick Johnston says:

    re: using Netflix in class: I’m a HS librarian and, fwiw, at a copyright workshop I attended in 2016 (at Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES, near Syracuse NY), we were informed that teachers’ use of Netflix in class for educational purposes was still copyright infringement because of the contractual restriction in Netflix’s terms of use (https://help.netflix.com/legal/termsofuse). My understanding was that contractual agreements overrode any ‘fair use’ claim w/r/t copyright infringement. We were told that there had been incidents of teachers’ having their Netflix accounts suspended for this reason — Netflix was able to determine from an IP address that their content was being repeatedly streamed in a school, and that we should alert teachers that this was a risk they were assuming if they chose to stream from Netflix (and, presumably, also Amazon Prime or Hulu) in class.

    I don’t know how accurate this is, and I’m not a lawyer or a copyright expert. I’m sharing this since it was something every librarian in my region was told, so I assume that others may be hearing the same thing.

    • Amy Fettig says:

      RE: using Netflix in class – There are some specific cases where educational screening rights have been granted. See this write-up about Ava DuVernay’s “13th”: https://media.netflix.com/en/only-on-netflix/78922

      • Morgan Gariepy says:

        RE: Using Netflix in class

        Please help me understand. . . Netflix will allow screenings only once per day/week/semester. That means if a teacher teaches the same subject three different periods, they can only use it in one of them. “Sorry, 3rd and 4th period. I showed the movie to 2nd period, so you can’t see it until next semester.”

        That’s ridiculous! I think Netflix is grossly out of touch with how teachers, lesson plans, and school schedules work. No teacher is going to plan classes like that. If they teach the same subject multiple times each day, they will almost certainly have the same lesson plan for each period. That includes the documentary or any other resources shown in class.

        I am not a teacher, but I work closely with teachers as a librarian. I’m also no legal expert, but this seems well within Fair Use. I can understand a restriction of once per class. However, restricting it to once per semester, full stop, with no consideration of multiple classes by the same teacher makes absolutely no sense.

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