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Dissertation Information for Judith Serebnick

- Judith Serebnick

- Ph.D.

- Library and Information Science

- Rutgers University (USA) (1978)

- Ralph Blasingame

- Susan Artandi
- Henry Voos
- Joseph I. Naus
- Richard W. Budd

MPACT Status: Fully Complete


Abstract: This study is concerned with both the problem of differentiating selection from censorship and with the investigation of variables that influence selection of potentially controversial books. Two key questions were asked: 1) are potentially controversial books which are widely and favorably reviewed purchased by librarians in numbers comparable to the numbers of other books receiving similar reviews, or 2) do potentially controversial books require a great number of favorable reviews before they are purchased? That is, in relation to the reviews, do librarians selection potentially controversial and other books by similar professional standards, or in a double standard applied to potentially controversial books?

Potentially controversial books were defined as books which previous research indicated has a probability of being censored in libraries. The study was limited to new adult nonfiction, published 1972-1974 in the United States, that was potentially controversial for its treatment of sex.

Three hypotheses were developed for the study and treated at the .05 level of significance. They are

H1: There is no significant relationship between the number of reviews a book receives and the inclusion of that book in libraries.

H2: There is no significant relationship between the direction of reviews (favorable, unfavorable, or neutral) a book receives and the inclusi9on of that book in libraries.

H3: There is no significant difference in the number of potentially controversial versus number of randomly selected books included in libraries if one controls for number and direction of reviews.

To test hypotheses, checklists f potentially controversial and randomly selected books were compiled. The list of potentially controversial books included cataloged titles that had one or more subject headings related to sex. The checklist of randomly selected books was compiled from six review journals most frequently used by public libraries: Booklist, Choice, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and the New York Times Book Review.

The libraries initially surveyed were the 30 medium-sized municipal libraries in New Jersey with average annual total expenditures 1972-1974 of $200,000-$750,000. In those libraries, book reviews were the predominant method for selection of adult nonfiction. The 10ibraries in the final survey used all six journals, and consequently all reviews used to test hypotheses could have been read by librarians in each library.

Hypothesis H1 was rejected. As expected, thee was a strong, positive relationship between the number of reviews a book received and the inclusion of that book in libraries (the correlation coefficient obtained was +.69, significant at the .001 level).

Hypothesis H2 was rejected in part. There was a significant relationship between direction of reviews and the number of books owned for books with three, four, or five reviews. Chi square tests indicated that books in a High Favorable category were owned by significantly more libraries than Favorables. However, there was no significant relationship between direction of reviews and number of books owned for books receiving one, two, or six reviews. Books with one or two reviews were owned by few libraries and 94 percent of books with six reviews were owned by four or more libraries.

Hypothesis H3 could not be rejected. There was no significant difference in the number of randomly selected versus number of potentially controversial books owned by libraries when one controlled for number and direction of reviews. On the contrary, the similarities in numbers were strikingly apparent prior to statistical testing.

The study’s findings, and the data collected on how journals review potentially controversial books and how librarians use reviews, indicate that reviews may be a key variable relating to selection and censorship in public libraries. Reviews deserve more attention in censorship research than they have previously received.

MPACT Scores for Judith Serebnick

A = 8
C = 6
A+C = 14
T = 8
G = 1
W = 8
TD = 8
TA = 0
calculated 2008-04-08 09:33:57

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Students under Judith Serebnick

- Stella Ann Bentley - Indiana University (1988)
- Stephen Henry Peters - Indiana University (1990)
- Beverly R. Teach - Indiana University (1990)
- Martha Johanna McDonald - Indiana University (1991)
- Taemin Kim Park - Indiana University (1992)
- Yeon Kyoung Chung - Indiana University (1993)
- Johnny Franklin Quinn Jr. - Indiana University (1996)
- Pamela Effrein Sandstrom - Indiana University (1998)

- Jung Soon Ro - Indiana University (1985)
- Catherine Howard - Indiana University (1988)
- Patricia Hooten - Indiana University (1989)
- Jae-Ok Yoo - Indiana University (1990)
- Milton Hathaway - Indiana University (1992)
- Lanju Lee Yoon - Indiana University (1992)