The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Archival Note: In reformatting this document, which was provided
by one of the authors, I may have inadvertantly scrambled research
data. (I don't _think_ I did, but anything's possible...) - if in
doubt, contact, the first co-author in the
list below. Ken McVay, September 4, 1994.

This research project has been published in a slightly different 
format in Public & Access Services Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 1 (1995), 
5-40, and is copyright 1995 by ( 
Haworth Press.  Permission for it to appear on the Nizkor Project 
server(s) has been granted by the senior author, 
( John A.  Drobnicki.  Please 
contact Professor Drobnicki with any questions regarding copyright 
and/or reprinting.  (


What next?  Do we burn the books?  Or have we forgotten the lessons of
50 years ago, that where they would burn books, they would soon burn

                                               Elli Wohlgelernter
                                   Editor, B'nai B'rith Messenger


     This study was undertaken to learn about public librarians'
attitudes and opinions concerning the sometimes conflicting issues of
intellectual freedom, collection balance, and personally-distasteful
materials.  The investigation focused on Holocaust-denial literature,
a body of work which tries to dispute or deny outright the historical
reality of the Holocaust.  This subject was presumed by the
investigators to be more offensive than other controversial topics,
and it was hypothesized that issues such as the ethnic composition of
the community and concern for accuracy would significantly affect the
results.  Surveys were sent to two hundred administrators and
adult-services librarians in the Nassau County Library System, which
was chosen for the ethnic and economic diversity of its communities.
The results, while ambiguous in some areas, indicate that librarians
are more open to Holocaust-revisionist literature than had been
predicted and, regardless of outside pressures, would acquire and
provide ready access to this mate- rial in their libraries.

                          CHAPTER I
                         THE PROBLEM

     It is a common axiom that each generation interprets the past
from its own point of view; that is, what was once the standard
interpretation of a historical event may become discredited.  This
process, known as historical revision, is a legitimate practice.
First, as historians delve deeper into the past and as heretofore
unknown documents are discovered, different and/or expanded
interpretations based on these newly disclosed facts may emerge.
Second, interpretations of historical facts are likely to change as
authors become more chronologically detached from the events about
which they are writing.  Scholarly revision, according to William H.
Chafe of Duke University, "is not concerned with the actuality of
events, but only with interpretations of their causes and

     In late 1991 and early 1992, students at several univer- sities
in the United States found a controversial advertise- ment in their
campus newspapers: the ad, written by Bradley R.  Smith, was placed by
the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust and asserted that no
Jews had been gassed in Nazi concentration camps during World War II.
The ensuing media coverage may have been the first occasion on which
many people heard the term Holocaust Revisionism.  Librarians and
other scholars, however, have known about Holocaust-revisionist
material for years.  For example, due to the sale, in 1980, of the
Organization of American Historians' mailing list, every member of the
OAH received a complimentary copy of the inaugu- ral issue of the
Journal of Historical Review, which pro- claimed the Holocaust to be a

                     Definition of Terms

What Is Holocaust Revisionism?

     According to librarian Jeffrey Katz of the Queens Borough Public
Library, Holocaust revisionists deny flatly that a plan to exterminate
the Jews of Europe ever existed and attempt to "prove" that
concentration camps, gas chambers, and the entire concept of genocide
was just one huge "hoax" concocted by "Zionists" and their cohorts, in
order to discredit Germany and advance their own (naturally greedy)

Rather than interpreting the causes and consequences of events,
revisionists, in the words of historian Richard C.  Lukas, "seem to
want history published in loose-leaf pages so they can extract what
they dislike and substitute their own mythical version of history."
The present researchers will use the terms Holocaust revisionism and
Holocaust-denial interchangeably.

     While different revisionist authors make different claims, they
all espouse at least one common belief: there was no attempt to
exterminate the Jews of Europe during World War II.  Although some
authors who negate the Holocaust (a word they always spell with a
lowercase h and pejoratively enclose in quotation marks) acknowledge a
special German harshness toward Jews during the Second World War, they
all claim that Jews who died did so from disease, hunger, or other
war-related causes, not, for example, from Zyklon B gas, which they
say was used only to delouse clothing.  They all claim that the
Holocaust is a fraud perpetrated by Jews in their quest not only for a
homeland, but also for world power.  For examples of Holocaust-denial
literature, the reader is directed to any of the books cited in
Appendix 1 of this paper. 

Other Key Definitions

     By Holocaust, which is also known by the Hebrew word Shoah, the
researchers mean the deliberate murder of between five and six million
European Jews by Nazi Germany and its allies during the Second World
War.  Since Holocaust revision- ists concentrate on trying to disprove
the deaths of those Jews, the researchers will use the term Holocaust
to refer solely to the Jewish tragedy, although it is recognized that
other peoples died at the hands of the Nazis as well.  It is not the
intent of this paper's authors to demean the suffering of Gypsies,
homosexuals, the disabled, and Poles and other Slavs, but since the
revisionists deal almost exclusively with Jews when they write about
the Holocaust, the researchers will follow suit.

     Standard interpretation as used in this paper with regard to the
history of the Holocaust will refer to the beliefs of authors who have
chronicled and acknowledged the authenticity of the Jewish Holocaust.
By referring to those authors, whom the revisionists label
"exterminationists," as "standard," the present writers are in no way
passing judgment on the merits of their work, but rather reflecting
the popular belief that the interpretation offered by Raul Hilberg,
Lucy Dawidowicz et al.  seems to be the one that the overwhelming
majority of the public and scholarly community share.

     The term access, as used in this paper, will mean:

     1.  The physical placement of library materials.
     2.  The subject headings assigned to library materials.
     3.  The classification number assigned to library 

     Acquisition will mean the purchase of, and/or acceptance as gifts
of, library materials.  Controversial will be used to refer to
materials that have provoked, or have the potential to provoke,
protests from library clients or other members of the public.
Referring to them as controversial is in no way an attempt by the
researchers to condemn or endorse the con- tents of these materials.

     The Problem of Revisionist Materials and Libraries

     The largest distributor of Holocaust-denial literature in the
United States is the Institute for Historical Review (IHR) through its
subsidiary, Noontide Press, headquartered in Torrance, California.
Both are under the institutional control of the ultra-right-wing
Liberty Lobby, run by Willis A.  Carto, "the leading anti-Semitic
propagandist in the United States," according to the Anti-Defamation
League of B'nai B'rith, and have ties to Neo-Nazi groups in the United
States and abroad.

     The IHR/Noontide Press publishes the aforementioned Journal of
Historical Review, as well as many books, pam- phlets, and audio- and
videocassettes, including what is considered to be the most famous
Holocaust-revisionist book, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, by
Arthur R.  Butz, a Professor of Electrical Engineering at Northwestern
Universi- ty.  Although IHR/Noontide Press publishes revisionist works
on subjects other than the Holocaust, it is most famous for producing
materials on the latter topic.  The reader will find some IHR
Holocaust titles cited in Appendix 1 of this paper.  Librarians'
Professional Guidelines

     Few, if any, librarians would question the right of authors to
write and publish Holocaust-denial materials, nor would they question
the right of persons to read Holocaust- denial materials or any other
items.  The more problematic question librarians face, however, is the
place, if any, of Holocaust-revisionist materials in public libraries.

     It appears that one could argue for inclusion of revi- sionist
materials in libraries based on American Library Association policy
statements regarding library collections.  The Library Bill of Rights
states that "libraries should provide materials and information
presenting all points of view on current and historical issues."
Another ALA policy states that "access to all materials legally
obtainable should be assured to the user, and policies should not
unjustly exclude materials even if they are offensive to the librarian
or the user."

The Central Issues

     Pitted against these professional guidelines is the overwhelming
evidence documenting the Holocaust.  Serious scholars do not question
the actuality of that event, and it has been shown that
Holocaust-revisionist materials are based on deliberate fabrications
of history.

     These, then, are the dilemmas that public librarians face: should
they or should they not acquire material that is generally accepted to
be "hate literature"?  After all, they know that revisionists share
the ideas of Neo-Nazi and other hate groups.  Yet librarians want to
develop comprehensive, balanced collections even as they struggle with
dwindling financial resources.  Furthermore, should public libraries
subsequently make revisionist materials freely accessible to more
readers, including young adults and children, who are free to examine,
read, and very often borrow adult materials?  Historian and Holocaust
survivor Israel Gutman has expressed the concern about the effect that
revisionist materials could have on young people who have not yet
learned about the Shoah:

     It is natural that such persons [young people], hearing
     about the Holocaust for the first time, refuse to believe
     that such incredible events could have occurred.  Con-
     sequently, those who seek to deny that such events did
     take place, or to discredit them in one way or another,
     find a ready audience.

                Purpose of the Present Study

     There are, of course, no easy answers to these questions.  There
are compelling arguments on both sides of the acquisitions issue, as
the reader will note in chapter 2.  Librarian Jeffrey Katz summed up
this quandary when he wrote

         It cannot be denied that Holocaust-denial literature
     is designed to distort the truth, promote hatred, and
     advance a racist ideology.  It also cannot be denied that
     free speech is, indeed, a right, and that the most
     fundamental ethic of the library profession is intellec-
     tual freedom.  The problem for the librarian, therefore,
     is to find a way to reconcile both truths.

     This research project investigated the extent to which public
librarians believe those two truths should be reconciled.  It asked
librarians whether or not public libraries should acquire
Holocaust-denial literature, and, if a library does, how it should be
cataloged and classified and where it should be housed.  It is hoped
that the results will be able to assist those making
collection-development policies and cataloging/classification
decisions regarding Holocaust-revisionist materials.  To the
knowledge of the present researchers, no surveys have been conducted
on this topic.  


     Central to this research project is the assumption that
Holocaust-denial literature is considered to be "controversial
material" by most public librarians and in most public libraries.  The
authors of this study also assume that research and academic libraries
will collect many controversial materials because of the mission of
these libraries: to support and advance scholarly endeavors.  Thus,
the present authors believe that Holocaust-denial literature
represents more of a controversy, both actually and potentially, in
public libraries, because they serve a diverse clientele and because
they are very often held accountable by the public because they are
funded by public money.

     The present researchers also assume that public libraries as a
matter of policy do not, and cannot, acquire every item that is
published.  It is also recognized by the investigators that serious
scholars do not question the actuality of the Jewish Holocaust, which
has been documented by testimonies of the perpetrators, their allies,
and their victims.

     It is also assumed by the researchers that Noontide Press and
other revisionist publishers actively send catalogs and other
advertisements to public librarians and libraries, as do other
publishers.  Indeed, one of the present investigators received
unsolicited brochures from Noontide Press in the past, but it could
not be determined how the publisher obtained the name and address, for
the investigator belongs to both library-related and historical
rganizations (but not the OAH).  


     Many good arguments have been made both for and against the
inclusion of Holocaust-revisionist materials in public library
collections.  It is easy to say that one is in favor of intellectual
freedom, but when one is confronted with deliberate fabrications of
the historical record, the decision whether or not to acquire them
becomes more complex.  The question of access to adult materials by
children and young adults also adds to the complexities, as these
books may be the first ones that they have ever read on the Holocaust.

     The present researchers tested the following hypotheses regarding
the attitudes of public librarians toward Holocaust revisionism:

     1.  Public librarians will oppose the inclusion of Holo-
          caust-denial literature in public libraries unless
          there are some forms of restrictions to its access.

     2.  The ethnic and religious composition of the community
          served by the public library will play a role in the
          librarians' decisions whether or not to acquire
          Holocaust-revisionist materials.

     3.  Public librarians will be less receptive to acquiring
          Holocaust-revisionist literature than other contro-
          versial materials.

The investigators believed that the most effective way to test these
hypotheses would be via a confidential questionnaire.

              Limitations of the Present Study

     The present authors investigated the attitudes of public
adult-services librarians.  In examining Holocaust-denial materials
first-hand, it was determined by the researchers that the literature
was overwhelmingly directed toward adults, including college students.
It was therefore decided to exclude children's, young adult, and
school media librarians from the population to be studied.

     Because of the assumption that academic and research libraries
will collect more controversial materials than public libraries, it
was further decided to exclude academic and special librarians from
the population to be studied.

               Outline of the Research Project

     Chapter 2 contains a more thorough overview of the history and
background of Holocaust revisionism, and it also details how libraries
have handled other types of controversial materials in the past.

     Chapter 3 outlines the methodology used in testing the
aforementioned hypotheses.

     Chapter 4 presents, analyzes, and evaluates the data
collected by the researchers.

     Chapter 5 contains a summary, conclusion, and suggestions for
further research regarding Holocaust-revisionist materials.

                        CHAPTER II

     Librarians have always been faced with a dilemma regarding
controversial materials.  They strive to present all sides of all
issues and differing viewpoints and interpretations of historical
events, which often leads to complaints and criticisms.  Usually,
however, controversial materials have some redeeming qualities, such
as Catcher in the Rye, a modern classic American novel.

     Some materials, on the other hand, are so objectionable and
elicit such strong condemnation that the librarian might be
hard-pressed to justify their inclusion in a public library
collection.  Pornography is an example, and Holocaust revisionism
may be considered another.  Holocaust revisionism, which has been
described by one historian as "historical charlatanism," is based on
deliberate distortions of the historical record.  These revisionist
writings offend not only Jews and Holocaust survivors, but also anyone
who believes that it is the historian's job to record and interpret
the past as it actually happened.  Adding such material to a public
library collection requires a strong commitment to intellectual
freedom on the librarian's part, and he/she must be prepared to defend
that action against the almost certain criticism that will follow.

                Recent Historical Background

     Since the end of the Second World War, there have been people who
have denied that there was a systematic attempt by Nazi Germany to
exterminate European Jewry.  Indeed, during the war, the Nazis
themselves began the process of revisionism, for they used
euphemistic terms for what they were doing, such as the "Final
Solution to the Jewish Problem" and denied that they were engaging in

     Holocaust revisionists have different motives for their work,
according to historian Israel Gutman, but they seem to share deep
seated anti-Semitic feelings and hatred of Israel.  Gutman also
believes that some revisionists have such hatred of Communism that
they have instead moved to the far right, embracing fascism and
seeking to glorify the Nazis, who were among the most vocal critics
and opponents of Communism.  Communism, in turn, has stereotypically
been associated with Jews.  The Noontide Press catalog contains not
only Holocaust-revisionist materials, but also books glorifying the
SS and the Nazis and attacking Franklin D.  Roosevelt and Dwight D.

     Revisionism has maintained a high profile in the news during the
past decade in part because of several high-profile court cases.  For
example, in December, 1980 Robert M.  Faurisson, of the University of
Lyon in France, stated on French radio that the Holocaust was a hoax
perpetrated by Zionists.  He subsequently was tried, fined, and
convicted by the French government for racial defamation.  Faurisson
has continued to write and publish actively, has spoken at annual
conferences sponsored by the Institute for Historical Review, and has
faced additional criminal charges in France.  Another French case
aroused media attention as well.  In 1985, the University of Nantes
granted a doctoral degree to Henri Roques, whose revisionist
dissertation had previously been rejected by the University of Paris.
The furor in the French press led the Minister of Higher Education to
revoke the degree.

     Two trials in Canada concerned a Social Studies teacher, Jim
Keegstra, and a book publisher and distributor, Ernst Zundel.  Zundel,
author of The Hitler We Loved and Why, had been distributing
revisionist and Neo-Nazi publications for nearly two decades before
being convicted in both 1985 and 1988 of publishing "false news."
Keegstra, who taught Holocaust revisionism in his classes, was
convicted in 1985 of violating Canada's law prohibiting promotion of
racial hatred.  His conviction was overturned in 1988 when Alberta's
Court of Appeals declared that law unconstitutional.

     Unlike France and Canada, the United States is much more tolerant
in its interpretation of free speech, so there have been no prominent
cases similar to Faurisson et al.  Arthur R.  Butz was not disciplined
by Northwestern University for writing The Hoax of the Twentieth
Century, in part because he teaches electrical engineering rather than
history.  Indeed, when knowledge of Butz's book was made public,
Northwestern's provost, Raymond W.  Mack, was quoted in the New York
Times as saying that it was an academic freedom issue.  The provost
further stated, according to the Times, that "it is a right available
to any citizen of the United States under the First Amendment,"
although he acknowledged that "it is a shame when that right is used
to insult survivors of concentration camps." At the beginning of
Robert Faurisson's legal troubles, Noam Chomsky, noted Professor of
Linguistics and Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, wrote a brief defense of Faurisson's right to free speech,
which was later used as an introduction to Faurisson's second book.

     The most widely publicized cases in the United States involved
David McCalden.  In 1979 McCalden, at that time known as Lewis Brandon
and who was director of the Institute for Historical Review, offered a
$50,000 reward to anyone who could prove that Jews had been gassed to
death in Nazi concentration camps.  Holocaust survivor Mel
Mermelstein, whose entire family perished at Auschwitz, came forward
with his proof, and when the IHR stalled, Mermelstein filed suit
against the organization.  The lawsuit was settled in 1985 with the
IHR having to pay Mermelstein $90,000 and having to issue an apology
to him and other Holocaust survivors for claiming that it was a hoax.
Mermelstein also won a suit in 1986 against revisionist Ditlieb
Felderer of Sweden; in 1988 he filed a lawsuit against Willis A.

     After breaking with Carto and the IHR, Brandon-McCalden founded
an organization called Truth Missions.  When his request to display
his books during Banned Books Week was denied by the Torrance
(California) Public Library, McCalden was invited by the California
Library Association in 1984 to operate a booth and participate in a
presentation at its annual conference.  The uproar by both politicians
and the press when this became public led the CLA to cancel McCalden's
exhibit and program, and McCalden then threatened to sue the

     Holocaust revisionism has also received press coverage during the
past several years due to right-wing and ultra-conservative
politicians who either endorse it or have shown sympathy toward its
arguments.  Jean-Marie Le Pen of France's National Front, Patrick J.
Buchanan, and David Duke are some of the politians who have been
accused of being either outright or covert revisionists.  The parent
organization of the IHR, Liberty Lobby, also publishes a weekly
tabloid in Washington, DC, called the Spotlight, which has
interviewed, and carried articles by, conservative members of Congress
promoting the Right's views on political and social issues at the same
time that it was printing articles denying the authenticity of the
Jewish Holocaust.

            Controversial Materials in Libraries

     The question as to how public libraries should handle
Holocaust-denial literature has not been discussed extensively in the
literature.  Several survey projects have been done regarding
controversial materials in school and public libraries, but what are
considered "controversial" in these studies are books that contain
profanity, explicit sexual passages, or other characteristics, such as
graphic violence, considered inappropriate for children or young
adults.  In short, these surveys deal with J.D.  Salinger and Kurt
Vonnegut, not, for example, Arthur Butz.

     These studies have shown that secondary-school students in school
media centers believe that their materials should not be censored;
that the number of reviews a book has received determines a book's
inclusion in libraries; that potentially controversial materials,
surprisingly, did not require more favorable reviews than other books
before they were included in libraries; and that sexuality and family
values formed the two most frequent bases of complaint about books in
school library media centers.  Two surveys performed to determine
whether or not the Moral Majority's claim that libraries discriminate
against conservatives by not purchasing conservative books found this
to be an exaggeration in the cases of four Georgia and five Toronto

Arguments Made Against Revisionist Materials in Libraries

     Several authors have discussed the question of Holocaust-
revisionist materials in libraries, although no extensive studies of
librarian attitudes have been found by the present researchers.

     The most common complaint voiced against Holocaust-denial
material is that it is hate literature.  Revisionist authors have been
shown to have Neo-Nazi sympathies, are apologists for Adolf Hitler and
Nazi Germany, and attack and seek to undermine Israel.  The claim that
the Holocaust is a hoax, therefore, accuses Jews, and everyone else
who believes in the genuineness of the Shoah, of being liars.  Morton
Weinfeld gave expression to this when he wrote unequivocably that "it
[Holocaust revisionism] serves clearly to promote hatred of Jews, as
well as to defame them."

     Weinfeld has also used the analogy that libraries do not collect
hardcore pornography because the decision has been made that it has no
literary value.  Similarly, libraries cannot be blamed for making that
decision regarding revisionist literature.  Add to this the factor
of diminishing financial resources for public libraries, and for
libraries in general, and the point raised about spending money on
historical fabrications when other materials can be purchased with
that money seems appealing.  

Arguments Made in Favor of Revisionist Materials in Libraries

     Vincent Richards, former president of the Library Association of
Alberta, Canada, is one of the few librarians to have defended in
print the presence of Holocaust-denial materials in libraries.  He has
made the point that other books in the library, especially in large
collections, will combat the ideas of the revisionists without having
to censor them.  An even more passionate defender of free speech, John
C.  Swan, has argued that librarians have a "basic professional
commitment to the flow of all kinds of information without regard to
its truth or falsehood," and that the librarian's primary
responsibility is access, and "access means a professional
responsibility to, among other things, as much untruth as we can
politically and practically manage" on the shelves.

     The arguments of Swan and Richards were also expressed several
years earlier at the University of Toronto.  When pressured by some
students to reclassify several revisionist books in the library to
separate them from the standard works, the Acting Chief Librarian

     We do not make judgments about books:  we simply put
     books of the same subject together....  If we gave in to
     that sort of pressure because one side didn't like
     something life would be impossible.  The books are on the
     shelves so that people can read them and make up their
     own minds.  That's the reason we're here.

Solutions Offered in the Literature

     Several authors have expressed their distaste for revisionist
material but have suggested that libraries should collect them if
certain conditions can be met, ranging from labeling to special class

     Neither the Dewey Decimal Classification nor the Library of
Congress Classification systems provide class numbers specifically for
Holocaust-denial literature.  Therefore, they are classed in the same
location as the widely accepted histories of the Holocaust (940.53 for
DDC, and D810.J4 for LCC).  Placing these materials side-by-side with
the "standard" works implies that these works are legitimate and
gives them a "relative prominence," especially in small collections.
This, however, can be countered by the statement of historian Lacey
Baldwin Smith, who wrote that the only way to counter revisionist
materials "is to set good scholarship against bad so that everyone can
judge the evidence for himself."

     Several cataloging and classification solutions have been offered
by those who object to the placement of revisionist material in the
Holocaust-history section.  One would be for DDC and LCC to establish
a separate class for Holocaust-denial.  It has also been suggested,
since it is an example of anti-Semitic literature, that it be
classified as such, as is done with the (in)famous Protocols of the
Elders of Zion.  Weinfeld makes the point that even "stores are not
free to mislabel products." Other suggestions made using existing LC
Classification range from Imposture (CT9980) to Prejudice (BF575.P9).

     Keeping revisionism in special, restricted collections has not
only been suggested, but it has actually been implemented at the
Simon Wiesenthal Center Library in Los Angeles.  At that private
library, the material is listed in the public catalog, although it is
not on the open shelf and must be specifically requested by clients.

     Although there is no separate classification, LC has provided a
subject heading for Holocaust-denial literature.  Earlier materials
were cataloged under "Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Historiography,"
but LCSH now provides "Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Errors,
inventions, etc." as an alternative.


     Unlike other controversial materials that may be included in
public library collections, Holocaust revisionism is based on
fabrications of history, deliberately distorting history in order to
apologize for Nazi Germany and attack both Jews and Israel.  While
other controversial topics, such as abortion, capital punishment, and
evolution excite and agitate people based on their religious, ethical,
and moral principles, they cannot compare with Holocaust revisionism,
which states that the Nazis did not attempt to exterminate European
Jewry, that there were no gas chambers in the concentration camps, and
that the Holocaust has been one big lie perpetrated by world Jewry.
Holocaust-denial literature is among the most offensive and
controversial material a library can own.  Added to this inherent
volatility is the fact that classification systems do not
differentiate Holocaust revisionism from the standard histories of the
Holocaust.  The fear as to the effect that revisionist materials
might have on children and young adults has been expressed by several
authors, as has the point that libraries will be giving wider
circulation and prominence to materials that most people would
probably never come into contact with.

     The library profession, however, is devoted to the principles of
intellectual freedom and the freedom to read, and fights censorship
wherever and whenever it is attempted.  In any library collection,
there are books that present diametrically opposed interpretations
of historical events, and contain materials that are now considered to
be racist or sexist.  Those who have defended the inclusion
of Holocaust-revisionist materials in public libraries have done so
not because they believe it to be true, but because they believe that
libraries must be open forums for all ideas, however offensive.
Unfortunately, the defense of free speech is very often confused with
the defense of the content of that speech.

     While the library literature contains hundreds, if not thousands,
of articles about censorship and intellectual freedom, librarians have
not written extensively about Holocaust revisionism.  A review of the
literature by the present investigators has discovered no studies of
librarian attitudes regarding Holocaust-denial materials and their
place, if any, in public libraries.

                          CHAPTER III 

The researchers conducted a survey to investigate librarians'
attitudes regarding acquisition of and access to Holocaust-denial
literature.  The subjects were public adult-services librarians
varying in age, race, and gender.  Due to time constraints the
researchers could not survey every librarian in the United States.
Therefore, the sample population was approximately 210 public adult
service librarians in Nassau County, whom the researchers considered
to be representative of the libraries and librarians in the United
States.  Nassau County was chosen as a sample because of the various
sizes of the libraries and the diverse communities they serve.  The
names of the adult service librarians were taken from the Directory of
Long Island Libraries & Media Centers 1991.  The researchers pretested
the questionnaire in the Queens Borough Public Library System before
testing the sample population. 

     Interaction between the subjects and the researchers was through
mail and the subjects were asked to answer the questionnaire based on
their knowledge and opinions.  To ensure the confidentiality of the
subjects, they were requested not to provide their names or
affiliations on the returned questionnaire or stamped, self-addressed
envelopes that were provided.

     Based on the hypotheses stated in Chapter I, the researchers
identified independent and dependent variables.

     1. Public librarians will oppose the inclusion of      
        Holocaust-denial literature in public libraries
        unless there are some forms of restrictions to its

        independent variable--some form of restrictions to
        its access
        dependent variable--librarians will oppose the
        inclusion of Holocaust-denial literature

     2. The ethnic and religious composition of the community
        served by the public library will influence the
        librarians' decisions whether or not to acquire
        Holocaust-revisionist materials.

        independent variable--composition of the community
        dependent variable--librarians' decisions whether or
        not to acquire Holocaust-revisionist materials

     3. Public librarians will be less receptive to acquiring
        Holocaust-revisionist literature than other contro-
        versial materials.

          independent variable--acquiring controversial
          materials dependent variable--librarians' attitudes

Other variables that could have affected the hypotheses included
individual library collection development policies; library budget;
and the physical size of the library and community.

     The researchers found several pilot studies that applied to the
research design, development of instruments, data collection
techniques and characteristics of samples.  The pilot studies cover
various controversial materials, censorship, and intellectual

     The results of David Jenkinson's questionnaire, which "sought to
identify who challenged what, why and with what results," was
published in the Canadian Library Journal in February 1986.  Jenkinson
surveyed 644 public and private Manitoba schools and 73 public
libraries within the province.  Jenkinson developed two
questionnaires, one for school libraries and one for public libraries.
The results were displayed in table form within the article.  In his
questionnaire Jenkinson listed authors and titles of controversial
materials; types of library (urban or rural), the nature of the
complaints; identities of the complainants; whether or not there was a
policy for handling challenges and the degree to which policy a was
followed; and finally the results of the complaint.  


NP- No policy for handling challenges, 
W-  Written policy for handling challenges, 
NW- Policy for handling challenges but unwritten,
1-  Policy followed not at all, 
2-  Policy followed minimally, 
3-  Policy followed some, 
4-  Policy followed quite a bit, 
5-  Policy followed fully.

     Barbara Immroth compiled a questionnaire that was given to a
group of seventy-five Texas librarians, forty-one public librarians
and thirty-four school librarians who attended workshops on censorship
and selection.  The questions were about selection policies, selection
of controversial materials, and challenges to materials and
reevaluation.  On the questionnaire librarians were given a list of
questions and answers from which to choose.  For example: 

Materials in the library collection:
___ Have not been challenged, 
___ Have been challenged by staff member, 
___ Have been challenged by parent(s), 
___ Have been challenged by Board member, 
___ Have been challenged by other community member.

     Michael Pope conducted a study of librarians' opinions on
sexually oriented literature as a dissertation for a Doctor of
Philosophy degree at Rutgers University.  A revision of his thesis is
published as Sex & the Undecided Librarian: A Study of Librarians'
Opinions on Sexually Oriented Literature.  On Pope's two-part
questionnaire librarians were asked how familiar they are with given
category and their opinions on the acquisition of the material.
Familiarity choices were: 

Never seen ___, 
1 to 5 examples ___, 
6 to 10 examples ___, 
Over 10 examples ___.  

Acquisition choices include: 

A. Under no conditions would I willingly have in my library.  
B. Only with faculty request or sufficient patron demand, 
   keep in locked stacked, allow only adult use.  
C. Only with faculty request or sufficient patron demand, 
   keep in locked stacked, anyone may use.  
D. Only with faculty request or sufficient patron demand, open stacks,
   anyone may use.  
E. Would initiate purchase, open stacks, anyone may
F. Would actively seek out such material, open stacks, anyone
   may use.

     The researchers used these pilot studies as a starting point for
ideas on their research design, the development of the questionnaire,
and the data collection techniques.

     The researchers used the mail questionnaire as their data
collection instrument.  There were a number of advantages to using the
questionnaire as well as some limitations.  Some of the advantages and
limitations to the questionnaire were given by Ronald R.  Powell in
Basic Research Methods for Librarians.  Among the advantages were: the
mail questionnaire tends to encourage frank answers, the
characteristics of the questionnaire help to eliminate interviewer
bias, quantitative data are easy to collect and analyze, large amounts
of data can be collected in a short time period, and questionnaires
are relatively inexpensive to administer.  Limitations of the
questionnaire included the following: they eliminate personal contact,
they do not permit the subjects to qualify answers to ambiguous
questions; and they may elicit some resistance from respondents.  Due
to the time constraints under which they had to complete the project
the researchers felt that the mail questionnaire was the best method
to use to obtain the needed results.

                        CHAPTER IV

     In order to ascertain how public librarians feel about
intellectual freedom, collection balance, and the acquisition of
controversial and factually questionable materials, the investigators
embarked on their project dealing with librarians' attitudes toward
acquiring and providing access to Holocaust-revisionist writings, a
sensitive and emotionally charged issue.  The investigators chose
those particular materials because such items would presumably be
considered more controversial than others.  The researchers wished to
learn how closely and indeed whether librarians would adhere to
personal convictions about the importance of accuracy in library
collections, about intellectual freedom, and about the issue of
collection balance versus controversy where Holocaust-revisionist
items are concerned.

     To test the researchers' hypotheses, which are described in the
next section, 200 confidential questionnaires were mailed to
adult-services librarians, directors, and assistant directors in the
Nassau County Public Library System.  Copies of the cover letter that
accompanied the questionnaire and the instrument itself, with totals
for all questions, are reproduced in Appendices 3 and 4,
respectively.  The investigators received seventy-two responses,
representing a return rate of 36%.


     At the outset, the researchers selected certain key questions on
the survey that were deemed most crucial not only to determining the
respondents' attitudes toward the acquisition and placement of
Holocaust-revisionist items, but also, obviously, to ascertaining
which hypotheses could be proved or disproved.  These questions are as

     Question 10:  A rating of selection criteria.

     Question 11:  Should library collections present
          all sides of every issue?

     Question 12:  Is it acceptable for a library to
          acquire materials whose factual accuracy might
          be in question?

     Question 13:  A rating of controversial topics.

     Question 16:  Would you acquire Holocaust-revision-
          ist materials for your library's collection?

     Questions 17 and 18:  Ratings of factors that would
          influence Yes or No answers, respectively, to
          Question 16.

     Question 19:  Possible subject headings for Holo-
          caust-revisionist items.

     Question 20:  Where should Holocaust-revisionist
          materials be classified?

     Question 21:  Where should Holocaust-revisionist
          materials be kept?

     Question 22:  Evaluation of possible offensiveness
          of Holocaust-revisionist materials.

     In addition, the researchers categorized the respondents into the
following population groups.  There was, of course, some overlapping
between groups, but this was done in order to compare and extrapolate
from responses and also to note which circumstances inherent in the
subgroups might have influenced answers.  For example, one of these
subgroups was "Clientele over 51% Jewish." Clearly, in the latter
case, the researchers wished to discover how the religious and
ethnic composition of a community might impact on a librarian's
decision whether or not to acquire Holocaust-revisionist items.

     The population categories were as follows: administrators;
librarians with fewer than five years experience; librarians with more
than fifteen years experience; librarians reporting their clientele
was over 51% European-American; librarians with more than 51% Jewish
clientele; librarians whose institutions have no
collection-development policy; and those who had experienced
challenges to library materials in their careers.  A discussion of how
these populations responded to the survey appears in depth in the
interpretive section of this chapter.

     Administrators were selected as a target population because they
set policies that govern libraries, including collection-development
guidelines.  The investigators hoped to learn if and how
administrators' responses would differ in any way or to any marked
extent from non-administrators'.  The investigators also wished to
ascertain if length of tenure in the job or profession would influence
judgments and decision making and attitudes toward acquiring
controversial literature.  Perhaps younger, less experienced
professionals would be more open-minded; and older, more seasoned
librarians would be more "set in their ways," or perhaps they would be
more liberal-minded, having developed more maturity and wisdom.
Obviously the researchers selected the ethnic/cultural and religious
parameters named above in order to study the effects of demographics
on the acquisition process.  Furthermore, the investigators targeted
librarians who work with a collection-development policy to compare
their responses with librarians who do not, to test whether or not
"collection-development librarians" have a clearer, more focused view
of what materials might be acquired--and under what circumstances
and for which populations served by them.  Finally, the researchers
wished to test whether librarians who had ever met with challenges to
library materials might turn away from controversial materials or
not; or, perhaps, having faced up to community displeasure, they
were inured to reader pressure and more strongly determined to acquire
materials that addressed all clients' concerns--even highly volatile
ones.  Of course, there was some overlapping among the groups.  Still,
these arbitrary breakdowns helped a great deal to highlight data when
they were tabulated.  The percentages for each question do not
necessarily total 100 because some respondents did not answer every

Table 1.  Rating of Selection Criteria--All Respondents

Extremely Important (%)  Somewhat Important (%) Somewhat Unimportant (%)
Not Important (%)

Accuracy 		76.4 22.2  0.0  0.0
Price 			12.5 69.4 11.1  4.2
Reviews			65.3 31.9  1.4  0.0
Author's Reputation	20.8 66.7  8.3  2.8
Publisher's Reputation  5.6  44.4 34.7  6.9
Client Requests  	47.2 45.8  2.8  0.0
Weakness of Collection 
 in Subject Area	59.7 37.5  5.6  0.0
Scholarly Value of 
Material		23.6 52.8 18.1  2.8
Note:  N=72.

Question 10:  Selection Criteria

     As Table 1 illustrates, when asked to rate a list of selection
criteria--accuracy; price; reviews; author's reputation; publisher's
reputation; client requests; weakness of the collection in the subject
area; and scholarly value of the material, accuracy was first choice,
with 76% of all respondents indicating that it was "extremely
important" and 22% responding that it was "somewhat important." In
addition, these criteria were valued: reviews (65%), client requests
(47%), and weakness of the collection (60%).

Table 2.  Responses to Questions 11, 12, and 16 by all respondents

YES (%) NO (%)

Should library collections present all sides of every issue?
88.9 	9.7

Is it acceptable for a library to acquire materials whose factual accuracy
might be in question?

47.2	44.4

Would you acquire Holocaust-revisionist materials for your library's
45.8    44.4
Note:  N=72.

Question 11: Should library collections present all sides of every
issue?  As Table 2 shows, an overwhelming majority (89%) of
respondents answered in the affirmative to the question "Should
library collections present all sides of every issue?" A very high
percentage answering yes was also noted across each population
category (see Table 3 and Figures 1-4).

[Editor's note: No charts are provided with this ASCII copy. knm]

Figure 1.  Administrators' and Non-Administrators' Responses
to Question 11

Note:  For Administrators, N=24; for Non-Administrators, N=48.

Figure 2.  Responses to Question 11 Based on Years of Experience

Note:  For < 5 years, N=13; for > 15 years, N=39.

Figure 3.  Responses to Question 11 Based on Prior Experience
with Challenges to Library Materials

Note:  For those with prior challenges, N=23; for those who
never had challenges, N=39.

Figure 4.  Responses to Question 11 Based on Collection-
Development Policies

Note:  For those with no CD policy, N=19; for those with a CD
policy, N=53.

Table 3.  Responses to Questions 11, 12, and 16 by librarians
whose communities are either over 51% European-American or
over 51% Jewish.

> 51% European-American (%) 
> 51% Jewish (%)

Should library collections present all sides of every issue?

YES 86.0 100.0
NO  14.0   0.0

Is it acceptable for a library to acquire materials whose factual
accuracy might be in question?

YES 50.0  50.0
NO  46.0  50.0

Would you acquire Holocaust-revisionist materials for your library's

YES 48.0  50.0
NO  44.0  50.0

Note:  For European-American, N=50.  For Jewish, N=8.

Question 12:  Is it acceptable for a library to acquire
materials whose factual accuracy might be in question?

     As Table 2 also illustrates, when asked about the acceptability
of acquiring factually questionable materials, yes and no responses
were virtually equally matched, with 47% of all resondents answering
yes and 44% answering no.  The biggest difference in responses
concerned librarians who had, and who never had, materials challenged.
As Figure 5 shows, librarians who had materials challenged in the past
had the highest percentage of yes responses (74%) and the lowest
percentage of no responses (22%), while librarians who had never had
materials challenged had the lowest percentage of yes responses (35%)
and the highest percentage of no responses (55%).  The other
population subgroups were more evely divided on the question (see
Table 3 and Figures 6-8). 

Figure 5.  Responses to Question 12 Based on Prior Experience with
Challenges to Library Materials

Note:  For those with challenges, N=23; for those with no
prior challenges, N=39.

Figure 6.  Administrators' and Non-Administrators' responses
           to Question 12

Note:  For administrators, N=24; for non-administrators, N=48.

Figure 7.  Responses to Question 12 Based on Years of Experience 

Note:  For < 5 years, N=13; for > 15 years, N=39.

Figure 8.  Responses to Question 12 Based on Collection-Development 

Note:  For no CD policy, N=19; for those with CD policy, N=53.

Question 13:  Rating of Controversial Topics

     As Table 4 shows, on a rating of controversial topics, abortion
received the largest percentage of responses in the "extremely
controversial" category overall, while Holocaust-revisionism ranked a
close second in that category.  Interestingly, for abortion,
librarians in the "over 51% Jewish" group ranked lowest among
respondents on the "extremely controversial" rating (25%); but for
Holocaust revisionism, they ranked second highest (50%) among the
population groups in rating it as "extremely controversial." Those
librarians who had faced prior challenges to materials had the highest
percentage (57%) in categorizing Holocaust-revisionist materials as
"extremely controversial." In the "somewhat controversial" category

Table 4.  Rating of Controversial Materials--All Respondents.

Extremely Controversial (%) Somewhat Controversial (%) Not at All 
                                                       Controversial (%) 

Abortion              17.2 40.3 12.5 
AIDS                   5.6 63.9 30.6
Capital Punishment    18.1 58.3 23.6
Child Abuse            8.3 37.5 54.2
Euthanasia            34.7 51.4 15.3
Evolution              9.7 29.2 59.7
Holocaust Revisionism 44.4 30.6 19.4
Homosexuality         29.2 55.6 22.2
Sexual Abuse           8.3 36.1 55.6
Suicide               15.3 47.2 36.1
Note:  N=72.

for Holocaust revisionism, the highest figure (35%) came from
librarians who had faced prior challenges to materials, while the
lowest figure (23%) came from librarians with under five years
experience.  Those librarians whose communities are over 51% Jewish
ranked second lowest (25%) in rating Holocaust revisionism as
"somewhat controversial," and also ranked lowest (13%) in rating it as
"not controversial." The highest percentage in categorizing Holocaust
revisionism as "not controversial" came from librarians with under
five years experience (31%), while the lowest figure (9%) came from
librarians who had faced prior challenges to materials.

Question 16:  Would you acquire Holocaust-revisionist mate-
rials for your library's collection?

     When asked whether or not they would acquire Holocaust-
revisionist materials, librarians were almost evenly divided (see
Table 2 above).  As Figure 9 shows, librarians whose libraries have
collection-development policies had the highest percentage of yes
responses (53%) and the lowest percentage of no responses (36%), while
librarians whose libraries do not have collection-development policies
had the lowest percentage of yes responses (26%) and the highest
percentage of no responses (68%).

Figure 9.  Responses to Question 16 based on collection-
development policies

Note:  For those with CD policy, N=53; for those with no CD
policy, N=19.

     Although the other population subgroups did not differ this
dramatically, there were some significant differences: 1) more
non-administrators responded no than administrators (see Figure 10);
2) as Figure 11 illustrates, more librarians with less than five years
experience answered no than those with more than fifteen years
experience; 3) librarians who had never faced challenges responded no
more often than professionals who had encountered challenges (see
Figure 12).

Figure 10.  Administrators' and Non-Administrators' responses
to Question 16.

Note:  For administrators, N=24; for non-administrators, N=48. 

Figure 11.  Responses to Question 16 based on years of

Note:  For <5 years, N=13; for >15, N=39.

Figure 12.  Responses to Question 16 based on prior experience
with challenges to library materials.

Note:  For prior challenges, N=23; for none, N=39.

Question 17:  Rating of Factors Influencing Decision to
Acquire Holocaust-Revisionist Materials

     Librarians who claimed that they would acquire Holocaust-
revisionist writings were asked to rate five factors that would
influence their decision.  As Table 5 illustrates, intellectual
freedom and balance of viewpoint on the Holocaust were the "winners."
The "over 51% Jewish" group ranked balance of viewpoint on the
Holocaust as "very important" to a greater degree (75%) than the other
populations, while both librarians with under five years experience
and those with no collection-development policy had the highest figure
(80%) in citing intellectual freedom as being "very important."
Weakness of the collection accounted for a total of 88% of

Table 5.  Factors Influencing Decision to Acquire Holocaust-
Revisionist Materials--All Respondents

Very Important (%) Somewhat Important (%) Not Important (%) 
Balance of viewpoint on the Holocaust    57.6 33.3  9.1
Intellectual Freedom                     69.7 30.3  0.0
Personal feelings about the topic         9.1 12.1 78.8
Religious/ethnic makeup of the community 12.1 57.6 30.3
Weakness of the collection in this area  15.2 72.7 12.1
Note:  N=33.

the responses in the "very" and "somewhat important" categories,
while the religious/ethno-cultural composition of the community
accounted for a total of 70% of the responses in those categories.
Personal feelings about the topic ranked low.

Question 18:  Rating of Factors Influencing Decision Not to
Acquire Holocaust-Revisionist Materials

     Librarians who would not acquire Holocaust-revisionist materials
were requested to rate four factors that would influence their
decision.  As Table 6 shows, lack of scholarly merit was
overwhelmingly selected by the respondents (91%).  Interestingly,
those librarians who serve a Jewish majority gave the second highest
rating (75%) for the composition of the community as being "very
important".  The highest rating 

Table 6.  Factors Influencing Decision Not to Acquire
Holocaust-Revisionist Materials--All Respondents

Very Important (%) Somewhat Important (%) Not Important (%)

Perceived lack of scholarly merit        90.6   6.3  3.1
Impact on children and/or young adults   56.3  21.9 18.8
Personal feelings about the topic        37.5  21.9 40.6
Religious/ethnic makeup of the community 59.4  15.6 25.0
Note:  N=32.

was given by administrators (78%).  Because one person from the Jewish
majority group skipped that part of the question, that group had the
lowest percentage for ranking lack of scholarly merit as "very
important" (75%).  Overall, the composition of the community was
judged "very important" as a no factor by 59% of respondents, followed
closely by impact on children and young adults.

Question 19:  Possible Subject Headings

     When asked to choose possible headings for Holocaust-revisionist
materials, "Antisemitism" (the Library of Congress Subject Headings
spelling) was checked by 57% of all respondents (see Figure 13).
The heading "Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Errors, inventions, etc."
was the second most popular

Figure 13.  Possible Subject Headings--All Respondents

Note:  N=72.

choice.  A smaller percentage of those librarians who serve
communities over 51% Jewish agreed with those two headings (38% for
each).  Very surprisingly, 50% of that group favored Holocaust, Jewish
(1939-1945)--History," the largest percentage among those who
selected that heading.

Question 20:  Where should Holocaust-revisionist materials be

     As Figure 14 shows, when asked for their opinions on where
Holocaust-revisionist materials should be classified, the overwhelming
majority of respondents chose classification within the
Holocaust-history section.  There were no significant differences in
the responses to this question when broken down by population

Figure 14.  Classification of Holocaust-revisionist materials-
-all respondents.

Note:  N=72.

Question 21:  Where should Holocaust-revisionist materials be

     The overwhelming majority of respondents agreed that
Holocaust-revisionist writings should be kept on open shelves and free
of any restriction (see Table 7).

Table 7.  Location of Holocaust-revisionist materials--all

Should be kept on open shelves and not restricted in any way      88.9%
Should be kept in closed stacks and available to anyone on request 1.4%
Should be kept in closed stacks and available only to adults       0.0%
Should be kept in a special collection/
  room for controversial materials                                 1.4%
Other                                                              1.4%
Note:  N=72.  

Question 22:  Evaluation of the potential offensiveness of
Holocaust-revisionist materials

     Finally, when asked to express their opinions about the
offensiveness of these materials, 39% of the respondents indicated
that such writings are more offensive than other controversial
materials, but 40% responded that they are neither more nor less
offensive.  No group believed that Holocaust-revisionist items are
less offensive (see Figure 15).

Figure 15.  Offensiveness of Holocaust-revisionist materials--
all respondents.

Note:  N=72.

     The other questions posed in the survey were used to break the
respondents down into the various subgroups and are not in themselves
significant in terms of the hypotheses.  Totals for every question
appear in Appendix 4.

     What follows is a brief report on how the data affected the three
hypotheses the researchers set forth.  

Hypothesis 1

     The researchers hypothesized that public librarians would oppose
the inclusion of Holocaust-revisionist literature in public libraries
unless there were some restrictions to its access.  As can be seen
from Table 2 above, the majority of respondents indicated that they
would purchase Holocaust-revisionist literature.  Further, as Figure
14 and Table 7 reveal, the majority of respondents favored placing
this material on open shelves, and a smaller but still significant
majority would want it classified in the Holocaust-history section of
the collection.  The data therefore have disproved this hypothesis.

Hypothesis 2 

The researchers hypothesized that the ethnic and religious composition
of the community served would play a role in librarians' decisions
about whether or not to acquire Holocaust-revisionist items.  Table 3
contains the responses of those librarians whose communities are over
51% European-American and those whose communities are over 51% Jewish.
These responses do not differ significantly from the overall total,
and the very small number of librarians (eight) who reported that
their communities are over 51% Jewish makes it difficult to draw any
inferences, even from the large (60%) affirmative response.  Because
the data do not differ markedly overall, hypothesis 2 appears to have
been disproved.  

Hypothesis 3

The researchers hypothesized that public librarians would be less
receptive to acquiring Holocaust-revisionist literature than other
controversial items.  First, 46% of all respondents answered that they
would purchase it, and 44% said they would not (see Table 2 above).
When asked to compare how controversial Holocaust-revisionist items
are as opposed to other controversial materials, 39% responded that
the former was more offensive (Figure 11), but 40% thought Holocaust
revisionism was neither more nor less offensive, and 15% had no
opinion.  Furthermore, as Table 4 shows, when ranking various topics
as to their controversial nature, abortion (47%) and Holocaust
revisionism (44%) were considered the most controversial out of the 10
topics.  Since the responses to these key questions were so evenly
divided and ambiguous, the data is not statistically significant
enough to conclude whether or not hypothesis 3 has been proved or

Interpretation of Data 

While the data regarding the first two hypotheses were
straight-forward, other data collected from the survey were ambiguous
in some cases, illustrating the complexity of this issue.  Selection
Criteria When asked to rate the importance of various selection
criteria (Question 10), it has been shown that accuracy and scholarly
value were considered very important.  This emphasis on accuracy and
scholarliness is surprising when one considers that nearly half of all
respondents claimed that they would acquire this literature, which is
not generally considered to be either accurate or scholarly.
Furthermore, recall that respondents rated these selection criteria as
extremely important as well: reviews, client requests, and weakness of
the collection.  These are also interesting statistics, given that
Holocaust-revisionist items almost never appear in the legitimate
professional review media; and that they are never asked for or are
requested rarely (81% of the respondents claimed they were never asked
for this literature by patrons; 10% responded that these materials are
requested "very rarely").  Thus it appears that for the librarians who
would acquire these materials, weakness of the collection might be an
even stronger motivating acquisition force than accuracy.  This is
borne out in the responses to Question 12: Is it acceptable for a
library to acquire materials whose factual accuracy might be in
question?  While accuracy is clearly an important selection criterion,
it appears to be so in ideal, general terms and for all subject areas.
Where the issue of collection balance is concerned, however, the data
suggest that librarians are not averse to acquiring factually
questionable items, since nearly half responded affirmatively to the
question (see Table 2 above).  Balance in this study seems to be
allied with the issue of collection weakness.  That is, in order to
achieve balance and to correct collection weakness, the majority of
professionals surveyed would acquire inaccurate and/or factually
questionable items.  Thus, the decision whether or not to acquire
Holocaust-revisionist literature is not an easy one, for this material
contradicts the very criteria most librarians use in selection
decisions.  Interestingly, one librarian's comment invoked two major
selection criteria already discussed: "Would be purchased at the
request of a patron only if supported by a reputable review source." 

Factors Influencing Librarians to Acquire 

Those librarians who answered that they would acquire
Holocaust-revisionist literature were requested to rank several
possible factors that would influence this decision.  For 70% of the
respondents, intellectual freedom was cited as being "very important."
This is in keeping with the finding that librarians' personal feelings
were declared "not important" by 79% of the respondents, suggesting
that the professionals surveyed can and do set aside their own
judgments about library materials in the interest of fostering free
and open discussion and access.  Allied with these factors is the
finding that balance of the Holocaust collection would be "very
important" in influencing the decision to acquire
Holocaust-revisionist items.  The researchers find these results to be
consistent with the data mentioned heretofore that library collections
should present all sides of issues; that many professionals would not
be opposed to acquiring factually inaccurate or factually questionable
works; that Holocaust revisionism did not rank first as the most
controversial topic; and that less than 40% of respondents claimed
that Holocaust revisionism was more controversial than other topics.

The personal comments expressed by many respondents bear out these
results: one director voiced his thought that he "wrestles" with this
issue "from time to time," while another comment told, poignantly, of
the soul-searching involved in being the child of Holocaust survivors;
at the same time, this librarian expressed her complete and utter
commitment to intellectual freedom and her strong belief that
Holocaust-denial items should be acquired, no matter how repugnant, in
order to serve a community's needs and intellectual interests.
There were large disparities between yes and no responses to the same
question by the following groups, who answered affirmatively in a
significant way: librarians with a collection-development policy; and
librarians who had had library materials challenged.  

From these data the researchers infer that those librarians who are
governed by collection-development guidelines are freer to make
choices of materials involving intellectual freedom and controversy.
Second, librarians who have met with client challenges may be better
equipped than others--that is, stronger and more competent--to meet
the backlash that could arise from a library's decision to acquire or
not to acquire controversial, offensive materials.  Having stood up to
challenges in the past, these librarians may realize that challenges
are occasionally "part of the job," so to speak, and their experiences
have demonstrated that library personnel can survive community

Factors Influencing Librarians Not to Acquire

     It has been demonstrated that the lack of scholarly merit
inherent in Holocaust-denial writings emerged as the foremost reason
why librarians said they would not acquire these works.  As one
respondent remarked, "[They] belong with 'the world was flat
material.'" This finding is opposed to the data that show that most of
the professionals surveyed would acquire factually questionable works.
Moreover, not every librarian who would resist acquiring
Holocaust-revisionist materials on unscholarly grounds was opposed to
acquiring factually questionable or inaccurate items either.  The
disparities here reveal once again how complex and confusing the issue
is.  On the one hand, as has been seen, the librarians seem very sure
about their general positions vis-a-vis intellectual freedom,
collection balance, and the presentation of all sides of issues.  On
the other hand, on occasion some of the librarians surveyed betrayed a
certain ambiguity about these issues, suggesting to the investigators
that the librarians wage a private war between their personal feelings
and their strong sense of responsibility and ethics as professionals.
Several sample comments from respondents testify to the conflict
between personal and professional convictions:

     As a librarian I feel it is wrong to censor the material
     we make available to our patrons--that includes Holo-
     caust-revisionist materials.  However, as a child of a
     Holocaust survivor . . . I am repulsed by this material.
     . . .  Given my background I would find it difficult to
     select such material, but I am torn between that and my
     responsibility as a librarian to provide uncensored
     material to my patrons.
     I am Jewish, an active Zionist and a student of history. 
     I find these materials horrific, but I am also a civil
     libertarian and find it difficult to balance freedom of
     speech and critical judgement [sic].

     While I believe that no matter how abhorrent such
     material is to many people the point of view should be
     represented in a collection.

     It has been seen that the religious/ethno-cultural composition of
a community would be a significant factor in librarians' decisions
both to acquire and not to acquire Holocaust-denial literature.  But
even though librarians cited the composition of the community as being
important, the data show that as many librarians serving communities
that would presumably be most offended by this material would acquire
it as those who would not.  Because the data have shown that li-
brarians serving European-American communities (under which the Jewish
community must be subsumed) are not generally opposed to
Holocaust-revisionist writings, and that this group does not consider
the items to be overwhelmingly controversial, the researchers
further conclude that these particular demographic factors would not
in themselves prevent most librarians from acquiring Holocaust-denial

     The only population who expressed themselves very significantly
in the no response to the question "Would you acquire
Holocaust-revisionist materials for your library's collection?" were
the following: librarians with less than five years experience, and
librarians working in institutions with no collection-development
policies (see Figures 9 and 11 above).  The investigators draw the
conclusions from these findings that younger, less experienced
professionals might be more fearful than their more seasoned
counterparts of incurring the wrath of their respective communities
and/or administrators by actively acquiring these writings; and that
librarians working with no collection-development policies might,
ironically, be laboring under less free acquisition standards than
professionals working with a policy that likely sets out clearly what
can and should be acquired for a library in a specific community.  The
investigators also assume that collection-development policies would
express their strong adherence to American Library Association
guidelines about free and open access to all points of view on all

     Overall, the data supported the importance, for the purposes of
tabulation and comparison, of the investigators' decision to
categorize the respondents into the various population subgroups.  For
example, from the data the investigators infer the following:

     * On the whole, collection-development policies seem to make
librarians more liberal-minded and amenable to acquiring all kinds of

     * Administrators have a high regard for intellectual freedom and
the presentation of all sides of issues; furthermore, in keeping
with these findings, administrators would not oppose the acquisition
of factually questionable items.  This is borne out by the statement
of a librarian who said that her institution (that has a
Jewish-majority clientele) had purchased some Holocaust-revisionist
works at the behest of the Director, who desires "to include all
opinions in the name of freedom."

     * Librarians with less than five years experience are less
tolerant than their colleagues with more than fifteen years of service
on the key questions of presentation of all sides of issues;
acceptability of acquiring factually questionable items; and
specifically the acquisition of Holocaust-revisionist materials.

     * On the key questions named above, librarians who had
experienced challenges and those who had not differ in their
perspective.  The yes and no responses from both groups were roughly
the same to the question of presenting all sides of issues.  However,
on the question of acquiring factually questionable items, librarians
with challenge experience answered yes overwhelmingly, whereas the
librarians who had never encountered challenges were more emphatic in
their no response.  Finally, when asked if they would acquire Holo-
caust-revisionist materials, the majority of the "challenge group"
favored acquisition, but the "no-challenge" librarians were almost
evenly divided among themselves in their responses.  Clearly, for
those who have never faced challenges to materials acquired, the lack
of specific guidelines makes for confusion and indecision.

     While numerous respondents expressed their personal repugnance at
the lack of validity and content of Holocaust-revisionist materials,
fewer librarians than expected proclaimed shock or outrage that such
items could be even considered for library purchase or be at the heart
of a research study.  Indeed, it was reported to the researchers that
some respondents and others familiar with the project thought the
investigation was interesting and "about time."

                         CHAPTER V

     Holocaust revisionists purport to be the only historians who are
telling the truth about the Jewish Holocaust.  They say that they are
right and that everybody else, including survivors, perpetrators,
collaborators, and witnesses, is wrong.  Those who deny the Holocaust
dispute the authenticity of the huge body of primary sources, and
therefore question the secondary materials based on them, some of
which will be found in every library.

     The public library's goal is to make available to its clients
materials on all topics and from all points of view.  Librarians have
historically opposed censorship in all its forms, including labeling.
Holocaust revisionism strongly tests public librarians' commitments to
intellectual freedom, open access, and accuracy, because it
contradicts and distorts the historical record.

     This struggle between wanting to develop balanced collections
and not wanting to censor or label was clearly demonstrated in the
comments written by many of the respondents to the questionnaire.
Some described intellectual wrestling matches between their commitment
to intellectual freedom and material that they found to be offensive
and/or felt would offend users of their libraries.

     The cataloging and classification practices of the Library of
Congress have also added to the confusion and controversy regarding
revisionist materials.  The class number and subject heading(s)
assigned by LC are very important in a time when most libraries copy
their cataloging data from bibliographic utilities or CIP.  At the
present time, there is no separate number in either the Dewey Decimal
or Library of Congress classification systems for
Holocaust-revisionist materials, with which the respondents to this
project's survey disagreed.  As the responses to Question 20 show (see
Figure 14 above), the public librarians surveyed believe that
Holocaust revisionism should have its own separate number within the
Holocaust history section.  More respondents also selected
"Antisemitism" than any other subject heading to describe this
material.  Conclusions

     Two of the three hypotheses proposed by the present researchers
have been disproved, and the data is not statistically significant
enough to either prove or disprove the third.  Public librarians in
general do not oppose the acquisition of Holocaust-revisionist
materials and would not restrict access to it.  Although the
overwhelming majority of public librarians believe that accuracy and
the scholarly value of the material are important criteria when
selecting materials, nearly half said that they would acquire
Holocaust-revisionist materials for their libraries.  The ethnic and
religious composition of the communities served did not influence the
decision whether or not to acquire revisionist materials.  However,
for those who opposed acquiring it, approximately 75% said that the
ethnic/religious composition of the community was either very or
somewhat important.  Although many public librarians believe that
Holocaust-revisionist literature is "extremely controversial," many
also said that it is neither more nor less offensive than other
controversial materials.  Thus the investigators cannot say with
certitude whether public librarians are or are not less receptive to
acquiring Holocaust-revisionist materials than other controversial


     The present researchers believe that every library should have a
written collection-development policy that addresses, among other
things, the acquisition of materials known to be factually inaccurate.
The researchers also recommend that all classification systems and all
collections of subject headings provide specifically for Holocaust
revisionism.  Suggestions for Additional Research

     The questionnaire used to collect data for this research project
relied upon the individual librarians to characterize the religious
and ethno-cultural makeup of their communities.  A few librarians,
however, did not answer that section, citing a lack of available
census data.  Those wishing to carry the research in this project
further, or to implement the methodology in another library system,
are advised to use data from the 1990 United States population census.
This will not only shorten the questionnaire but also provide data on
all of the communities served by the librarians in the sample
selected.  Although ethnic/cultural data are available, religious
denominational data for individual communities and/or census tracts
are not yet available to the knowledge of the present researchers.

     Those wishing to pursue additional research regarding
Holocaust-denial literature might investigate the attitudes of
academic librarians to learn if their responses differ markedly from
the responses of the public librarians surveyed in this paper.
Additional research could also be implemented in large, centralized
public library systems to compare the attitudes of branch librarians
with librarians working in the system's central library.

     Since over 80% of this project's respondents characterized
price as either very or somewhat important when selecting materials,
more research could be done to compare attitudes of librarians whose
libraries have small budgets with those whose libraries have large

     While this project investigated librarians' attitudes, actual
library practices could easily be checked in this, the age of online
catalogs.  It would be very interesting to take lists of
Holocaust-denial books and other controversial titles and check the
holdings of libraries whose librarians said they would acquire
revisionist material and that libraries should provide both sides of
all issues.  This comparison would demonstrate whether or not
librarians practice what they preach.

     As has been mentioned throughout this paper, historical revision
is a common and necessary practice of historians.  Not all revisionist
writings are based on fabrications, but many of them do come close.
Some Afrocentric books have been severely criticized by historians for
being inaccurate and misleading.  Oliver Stone's film JFK was followed
by a wave of assassination/conspiracy books, many of which read like
stories one would expect to find in supermarket tabloids.  Additional
research could be carried out to investigate librarians' attitudes
regarding other revisionist materials to see how they compare with
attitudes regarding Holocaust revisionism.

     Serious time constraints prevented the present investigators
from pursuing these related matters.  Nevertheless, the researchers
believe that the findings of the present project are valid and that
the sample surveyed is representative of suburban public librarians in
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