March 21, 2006

NYC Libraries Censor IndyKids Newspaper

A new project of New York City Indymedia, IndyKids, has been censored by two area library systems.

By IndyKids -

A new project of New York City Indymedia, IndyKids, has been censored by two area library systems. After agreeing to distribute IndyKids to their local branches, both the New York Public Library and the Queens Public Library changed their minds and now refuse to distribute the paper. They say the reason for their decision is that IndyKids is not “balanced.”

Yet a look at the periodicals offered at the Donnell Children’s Library shows a striking bias. For example, “Biography Today-Profiles of People of Interest to Young Readers” September 2005 issue calls Pope John Paul II “the charismatic ‘people’s pope’ who helped topple Communism while championing Catholic values and a culture of peace.”

The publication, “Faces: People, Places and Cultures” has a special March 2006 issue devoted to Afghanistan. The glowing description of the current situation there defies even mainstream reporting: “The United States military trained more than 25,000 Afghan troops so that the Afghans could better protect their own country. Schools, hospitals, roads and towns are being rebuilt. Girls are allowed to attend schools, and people are free to do their business. Today, Afghanistan is a relatively stable country.”

In addition, the library’s periodicals for children feature numerous ads for video games, candy and sports wear, and generally carry the message: “life is good, have fun and play sports.”

It is fine for the library’s materials to put forth these perspectives, but the library should not pretend that these are balanced and exclude other points of view. As a public institution supported with taxpayer dollars, the libraries have the responsibility to distribute all kinds of publications from a variety of perspectives.

The American Library Association’s “Library Bill of Rights” states: “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.”

IndyKids is a new, free progressive current events newspaper for kids in grades 4 to 8 in the New York City area. It is currently distributed at over 40 schools and community organizations in New York City. IndyKids encourages kids to form their own opinions and to engage in politics. In its first five months, IndyKids has received praise from many teachers who lack materials on current events to use in the classroom.

“I have been teaching current events for years, and always had to face the fact that ‘regular’ newspapers are difficult for 11 and 12 year olds to read,” said John Yanno, a 6th grade teacher at John Jay High School in Brooklyn. “Indy Kids has really made teaching current events a lot easier. The kids are finally motivated to read, and more importantly, to discuss and get active.”

IndyKids asks the public visit the local library and to request that it carry IndyKids. The pubic is also encouraged to write letters to the libraries urging them to distribute IndyKids. Since the library will not allow IndyKids inside its doors, a public distribution of the paper will take place in front of the Mid-Manhattan Public Library on Saturday, March 25, from 2:00 to 3:30pm.

For more information on IndyKids and to download the paper, go to To order copies for your school call 212-592-0116 or write to IndyKids at


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