Public libraries are a repository for ideas and expression. The idea is to enable citizens to build their own ideas on top of a universal access to information. That’s why censorship at libraries is such a touchy concept. At the same time, many people don’t worry about censoring games.
The National Coalition Against Censorship worries, though. The activism group sent an open letter to a library in Paterson, N.J., that voted to ban its patrons from playing first-person shooter video games on the library’s computers.
The Paterson library director, Cindy Czesak, asked its board to vote to give the librarians the authority to stop anyone who plays a FPS. Czesak says they’re doing this on behalf of the children who frequent the library.
“Video games are protected speech under the First Amendment and, as such, cannot be regulated or restricted by public officials in response to concerns about their message or content,” reads the letter from the NCAC. “The library has not offered any sound justification for removing access to specific games. Instead, according to published reports, librarians are taking this action to ‘prevent our kids from learning these behaviors.’”
The letter goes on to criticize the idea that first-person shooters lead to any learned violent behavior and that this ban applies to all library patrons and not just children.
You can view the full letter on NCAC.org.
Of course, not all librarians are censoring game-related materials. GamesBeat previously reported that the American Library Association endorses video games:
“Video gaming at the library encourages young patrons to interact with diverse peers, share their expertise with others, including adults, and develop new strategies for gaming and learning.”
So while the NCAC fights off a few rare instances of censorship, the rest of us can go check out Far Cry 3 from our local public library.