Regional differences in collecting freethought books in American public libraries: A case of self-censorship?
University of Chicago Press
This study was conducted to determine if American public libraries located in an area of the country hostile to atheist (freethought) ideas collect atheist books at a lower rate than a region of the country more open to such ideas. The US General Social Survey was consulted to locate the contrasting regions. New York Times Best Seller lists were used to select recent (since September 11, 2001) atheist publications and contrasting books favorable to religion. Public library catalogs were then checked for holdings of these books. Purchases of atheist material differed significantly between the two regions, while purchases of religious materials showed no statistically significant difference. Possible explanations for the difference are explored, including censorship pressures, the exclusion of atheist thinking from the discourse of the community, and budgetary considerations.