Feeling Triggered? The Good and Bad of Content Warnings

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Selection expert April Dawkins unpacks the complicated subject of trigger warnings, examining the impacts of trauma, the problem of self-censorship, and the connections between discomfort, learning, and growth.

When I was interviewing for my current job, I was asked a thought-provoking question by one of the graduate students: Do you think books should be labeled with trigger warnings? It took me aback at first. My research is all about defending intellectual freedom and my initial reaction was to say no, absolutely not. I didn’t say that, and what resulted was a lively discussion with a group of students about the potential benefits and drawbacks of providing librarian-generated trigger warnings for books for children and teens. This is a topic I continue to think about whenever I am teaching and working with future librarians…

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