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At the beginning of the twentieth century, librarians, teachers, and parentswrote about the dangers to children of unlimited access towhatwas termed “sensational literature.” At the beginning of the next century, they struggled to deal with the dangers to children of unlimited access to the Internet. Although separated by a hundred years, they appear to be makingmuch the same argument about themuch the same issue, that of the public library providing unlimited access tominors towhat some viewas inappropriate or dangerousmaterials. However, a closer analysis of the discourse in the professional media regarding these two controversies, one that investigates the mechanisms underlying the changes in attitudes and practice, reveals that any similarities are primarily cosmetic. Such an analysis reveals that different issues were addressed and debated utilizing different social constructions of childhood and different social constructions of the public library and public librarians held by society as a whole and by librarians at the turn of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

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Library & Information Science Research

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