Six O’Clock Series discusses banned book week

As part of Banned Books Week, a panel of IUP Professors discussed opinions on banning plagiarized books from library shelves. (Daniel Kirby/ The Penn)

In coordination with the start of Banned Book Week, this week’s Six O’Clock Series was a debate about whether or not plagiarized books should be banned from the library at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

The panel of people who were speaking and debating consisted of Dr. Mike Sell, associate professor and director of bachelor of fine arts in English; Joann Janosko and Dr. Theresa McDevitt, librarians at the IUP library; Dr. Paul Arpaia, associate professor in the department of history and Alexi Lykissas, a graduate assistant.

At the start of the debate, each speaker presented a statement on the topic of plagiarized books and their place in the library.

After each speaker presented, the debate was opened up to the audience, and audience members could make statements and ask questions.

The first speaker was Sell, who pointed out that the IUP library currently carries four books written by Bert Cardullo that were plagiarized. He went on to talk about Cardullo’s record of plagiarized works and how he had been wrongfully republishing his own works. Sell, upon discovering Cardullo’s plagiarized material, requested that all of his books be removed from the IUP library.

“Cardullo has stolen reputedly and egregiously from his fellow scholars and has been recognized by universities and presses,” he said. “Anyone using his books for scholarly purposes will compound those crimes. Cardullo will benefit materially from citations of his work. When you’re a scholar, when you get cited by somebody else, there are programs that tally it. The more times you’re cited, the more prestigious you are considered.”

The next speaker, Janosko, defended the library’s decision not to ban the books. Jonosko stated that the library does not label books and will not label books.

She also said that they do not condone plagiarism by keeping the book on the shelves, but they do not pull or ban books. By not pulling the books off the shelf, the library is upholding the Library Bill of Rights, according to Janosko.

The people who need to carry this are the publishers and the editors,” Janosko said, “because they let that information get through.”

The third speaker of the evening, Arpaia, discussed an issue of plagiarism in his field of study. Arpaia first mentioned how all knowledge must be credited to other people.

Arpaia went on to mention a document published on H-Italy which was written by an Italian historian. The document was put into question by a professor at Cambridge University who found that none of the historian’s work was his own. After a trial, the author of the document apologized and gave credit where credit was due.

The last speaker was Lykissas, who talked about the different ways plagiarism could be avoided. Lykissas mentioned websites such as turnitin.com and IThenticate.com that can help students not to plagiarize, knowing that most cases of plagiarism in students are accidental. This technology will help students to know how to properly cite sources and avoid plagiarism.

After all the speakers presented their points, the discussion was opened to the audience. Students asked the speakers questions and brought up points about the topics discussed.

One student in particular, Margret Gagel, (junior, operations management) stated her opinion when the topic of labeling the plagiarized book was brought up.

“You keep saying it’s just one library, but is that any excuse not to do something if it’s the right thing to do?” Gagel asked. “If it is decided that yes, it is the right thing, why not do it? Even if it’s just a library, why is that one step not worth taking?”

Other banned-book week activities include the banned books read out on Wednesday and the English Graduate Organization workshop Thursday.