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Pro-Life or Pro-Choice Bias in Libraries

Autonomy Party Report:
Pro-Life or Pro-Choice Bias in Our Libraries?
By Andrew Bushard

Atheist types have clamored that libraries are biased in favor of religion because libraries own more items in favor of religion than in favor of atheism or “freethought”. These atheists believe in a more general notion that libraries demonstrate or reflect biases through the items they carry.

Once while telling one of my friends about a great pro-life book I found MSU-Mankato’s library, he remarked that it was probably about the only pro-life book there. Thus he seemed to think the library had a pro-choice bias. Does it? Do other libraries have a pro-life or pro-choice bias? I decided to see for myself.

I searched the listings on the online catalogs of libraries in the towns and cities I have lived (plus others). I then counted the occurrences of pro-life, pro-choice, and neutral items.

In some cases, it was difficult to categorize the material. Sometimes, I could not decide whether the item was biased one way or another or if it was unbiased. This was especially difficult when considering fiction items.

Certainly, my categorization of items may not be perfect, but I tried to be as fair as possible. I am definitely pro-life, but I had to let the truth of this matter come out.

On notebook paper, I listed the items and categorized them. The list of items is not reprinted here due to its length, but if you have a concern with this project, I could perhaps photocopy the list and send it to you.

I counted the number of pro-choice, pro-life, and neutral/unbiased items. The material I was not unsure of was not counted. The vast majority of the items appeared to be unbiased.

There is a possibility of counting errors. I could have miscounted. I tried to minimize this as much as possible, by recounting, and in some cases, recounting several times. If there was a discrepancy between my first count and second count, I was compelled to count again.

I now present my findings to you:


The Brookings Public Library
I lived in Brookings, SD, a small (20,000 or so people) college town, from just after birth to the completion of 4th grade.

I searched using the term “abortion” and found:

12 items favored to the pro-choice cause
6 items favorable to the pro-life cause
22 neutral items

Thus, the Brookings Public Library appears to have a pro-choice bias.

Sioux Falls Public Library
I lived in Sioux Falls, SD, the biggest city in SD, from the beginning of 5th grade to the completion of 6th grade. I later lived in Sioux Falls, SD for a quarter of my 9th grade year.

I searched using the term “abortion” and found:

15 items favorable to the pro-choice cause
7 items favorable to the pro-life cause
29 neutral items

Thus, the Sioux Falls Public Library (main branch) appears to have a pro-choice bias

West Des Moines Public Library
I lived in West Des Moines, a suburb of Des Moines, from the beginning of my 7th grade year to about the middle of my 8th grade year.

I believe my search word was “abortion” and I found:

11 items favorable to the pro-choice cause
6 items favorable to the pro-life cause
24 neutral items

Thus, the West Des Moines Public Library appears to have a pro-choice bias.

Garretson Public Library
I lived in Garretson SD, a town with a population of less than 1000 people, near Sioux Falls, SD, for about the second half of my 8th grade year.

There was just about nothing available on this topic. I only found 2 items total, both of which I could not categorize. Thus, since the Garretson Public Library appears to have no material on the abortion issue, it appears to be unbiased.


Rockford Public Library
I lived in Rockford, IL from about the second quarter of my 9th grade year to when I graduated from high school, and for a couple of summers while attending college.

I searched using the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice” and found:

9 items favorable to the pro-choice cause
6 items favorable to the pro-life cause
12 neutral items

Thus, the Rockford Public Library, main branch, appears to have a pro-choice bias.

Portage County Public Library System
I lived in Stevens Point, WI from 1997-2002 while attending college, not including a couple of summers where I lived elsewhere.

I searched using the terms “abortion”, “pro-life”, and “pro-choice” and found:

10 items favorable to the pro-choice cause
14 items favorable to the pro-life cause
23 neutral items

Thus, the Portage County Public Library system appears to have a pro-life bias.

University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
I attended the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, from the fall of 1997 to the spring of 2002, and graduated with a B.A. in Sociology and Philosophy.

This was the most exhausting search of them all as I tried to make it as comprehensive as possible.

I searched using the terms “pro-life”, “pro-choice”, and “abortion” and found:

54 items favorable to the pro-choice cause
34 items favorable to the pro-life cause
106 neutral items

Thus, the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, appears to have a pro-choice bias.








Blue Earth County Library in Mankato, MN
I lived in Mankato, MN from the fall of 2002 to the summer of 2004, while attending graduate school.

On this catalog, I searched using the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice” and found:

6 items favorable to the pro-choice cause
6 items favorable to the pro-life cause
7 neutral items

Thus, the Blue Earth County Public Library in Mankato, MN appears to be unbiased.

MSU-Mankato
I attended MSU-Mankato from the fall of 2002 to the spring of 2004 and graduated with a M.A. in Sociology.

I searched using the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice” and found:

16 items favorable to the pro-choice cause
7 items favorable to the pro-life cause
19 neutral items

Thus, MSU-Mankato appears to have a pro-choice bias.

Washington County Public Library (Oakdale)
I have lived in Oakdale, MN (a dreadful, soulless, uninspiring, and shameful suburb of St. Paul) from October 2004 to the present.

I searched using the terms “pro-life”, “pro-choice”, and “abortion” and found:

5 items favorable to the pro-choice cause
2 items favorable to the pro-life cause
18 neutral items

Thus the Washington County Public Library, Oakdale branch, appears to have a pro-choice bias.

St. Paul Public Library, Arlington Hills Branch
Sometimes you physically reside in one city, but your heart and soul actually belong to another city. My residence unfortunately is in Oakdale, MN, but currently my heart and soul belong to St. Paul. I prefer going pretty much anywhere in St. Paul (or somewhere else in the Twin Cities) instead of Oakdale. I hate Oakdale and love St. Paul. The Arlington Hills branch is a beautiful library, located on Greenbrier St which is on the east side of St. Paul.

I searched using the terms “abortion”, “pro-life”, and “pro-choice” and found:

1 book favorable to the pro-choice cause
1 book favorable to the pro-life cause
13 neutral items

Thus the St. Paul Public Library, Arlington Hills branch, appears to be unbiased.

Byron Public Library
Currently my father and stepmother live in a small town in Illinois called Byron which is about 20 miles away from Rockford, IL. My father and stepmother adore it; I detest it. To each his or her own.

On this catalog, I searched using the term “abortion” and found:

2 items favorable to the pro-choice cause
0 items favorable to the pro-life cause
16 neutral items

Thus, the Byron Public Library, appears to have a pro-choice bias

Libraries constantly acquire new material, thus, this information is due to change. I searched over a couple of days, and produced this report on July 11th, 2005. Furthermore, it is possible that these libraries have material in addition to what I found using the above search terms.

Overall, the libraries that I have searched appear to have a pro-choice bias. Thus, I generally conclude that those who suggest libraries in these areas have a pro-choice bias are correct, and those who suggest libraries in these areas have a pro-life bias are wrong.
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