Recently I visited a certain university library and asked for a book by Assefa Jaleta; the libertarian informed me that the book is not available. Because I know the fact that the book was available in the library earler I asked where the books had gone. She simply told me that all the books by same author were ordered to be removed from the university library.
I immediately walked straight to the periodical section of the library and tried to check weather private papers like “Aweramba Times” and “Fetih” were documented in the libraries. But, I can only make out “Addis Zemen” and “The Ethiopian Herald” ,which are ETV in print, together with some “love” and “fashion” magazines and some selected English newspapers. I went back to the librarian to inquire why they have changed their policy in documenting only selected newspapers. She said that the library does not have a budget to subscribe for every private publication. But I remain resilient and raise my point to her again if I can donate some private newspapers that I obtain weekly for my own consumption. Guess what would be her response . . . “letter from authorities” . . . she said I should bring a letter from a concerned authority that permits me to donate newspapers for the library. I recognize that what is going on in the library is a kind of a soft, quiet, very menacing censorship, where nobody is raising a reek, nobody is complaining, nobody is burning books .
Apparently, these people are just quietly making sure dissident opinions do not get out there for students. It also has a facade looks of self-censorship. Though it needs research with wider samples it is probably fairly widespread. Besides, I don’t have any way of really knowing it; because libraries who censor are not likely to tell me why they reject books, newspapers or magazines with edgy political content. It is dirty secret that no one in the media would like to talk about. It is even more distressing because the librarians do not even realize that they are practicing censorship. Can we say it is paradox; to see censorship in Ethiopia is less well documented today than it was during the “Derge” regime in our libraries?

One Response to “University Libraries: Are they the forgotten instituitions in service of censorship??”

  1. demeke

    hello sewyew, is that an only library can be taken as a sample to disclose the countries image? what about if this is the ignorance of the librarians and their head? imgae building costs as you see the country? so my friend which side r u? i think it is good to the bad doers the what they have done is to be critisized. my friend u can critisized the librarians and call thier names and do that. why u generalize it? as to my knowledge, there is no censorship if the publication(the motive of the work) is developmental. u know the content of those megazines, the government owned megazines are not attractive and blindly supports the government where as the private ones like thier counterparts blindly opposes the government. i do not like both. for the comment should be developmental. reporter, Addis Admas, fortune,capital,… my friend ur website is fantastic.

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