Public School Library and Catholic Librarian

I am a fairly new convert to Catholicism and am grappling with the concept of my responsibility in regard to what my junior high students read in the public library where I work. I am new to this level, having worked in elementary libraries for several years, so I am struggling a bit with appropriateness of certain reading materials in the library and possibility of those materials leading students to sin. What is my obligation towards these young minds in terms of books in the library that may have a degree of sexual content in them, may be gay or lesbian oriented (none I have brought in, only already in the library) - and encourage such a lifestyle as ok, or may have information in them stated in a way that students may take the information as “gospel truth” or validation that a sinful action is ok. I understand I am in a public school rather than a Catholic private school so there may be different parameters that I may need to consider, but I wonder about my responsibility if something these students read leads them to wrong choices. Can anyone help me with some guidance?

I would be verrry careful about treading here.
Be careful that you don’t say anything to put your job in jeopardy.
If, for example, you try to tell a student who is reading a novel for school in which a gay character is in a same-sex relationship…if you tell the student that it is sinful…i think you will find yourself in hot water.
You don’t know if that student might have a parent or sibling who is gay…and the student and their family may have very different beliefs than you do…and also, you might even steer them wrong when it comes to analyzing the novel for a school essay or exam.

There is a difference between giving your opinion on a novel if a student asks you for it (and even then, you must be careful)…or trying to evangelize them or tell a minor what is right and what is wrong in the confines of the school library.


It is awful what they have for kids to read these days… but I would say if a child asks you to recommend a book, don’t ever recommend one you don’t approve of. But if children bring them up to take up, well, they have teachers and parents to be responsible for them and you are only the librarian.

Thanks. I have had a number of years already in school libraries, even some time at the high school level, so I realize there may be times I will find things in the library that I might not find appropriate for my own child, but that may be on a spectrum of what a kid grappling with an issue might find helpful. I also get that sometimes I might not want kids to read a book but if it is in the library already I may just need to let it be there. There have been clear cut cases in my mind with elementary kids where something was simply not age appropriate and I have pulled it. I even get that I would want to be cautious with analyzing a novel, though I probably would just choose another novel and avoid one that is questionable at best. I definitely would not recommend a book that I feel would lead a student into sin. I think my concern is what to do with those titles that are already on the shelves that the culture says are no big deal but for me present a lifestyle that is wrong.

I would be very unhappy if I found our librarian was “pulling” books that were already on the shelves, or censoring my child’s reading. That’ my job, not the librarian’s. You should not recommend books that you don’t like if you are asked, but that would seem to be the end of it.

How serious are you in following Jesus as a purveyor of smut?

Despite the lack of punctuation, I’m assuming you are not suggesting Jesus is a purveyor of smut. And how much smut do you think is found in a school library?

I am aware that there is prejudice among high school librarians. When I as a junior someone checked out and “lost” a book by Mary Renault called THE KING MUST DIE. And my folks had to pay for that book. A book that I still have never seen or read. My folks never trusted me since. At that public school library all that needed to be done to take out a book was to write a name on a check out card and it was checked out. They had students checking out books, who never checked on the identity of those who wrote a name on a check out card.

I was a skinny non-macho boy who was religious in a school completely dominated by American Football. The book FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS was written about my school. I researched, years later Ms. Renault and it turns out that her books often have homosexual sub themes. This because I was a skinny religious boy? I must assume that according to some that skinniness must be a trait of homosexuality? I am not homosexual and never have been! Some one tried and succeeded in setting me up.

Lots of things were and likely still are wrong about Permian High School.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit