ALA Annual 2019

Calling All Readers: Celebrate and Support the Freedom to Read Foundation!

Picture of library books on shelves leading to celestial sky.
So many books, so much freedom!

Hey, ALSC members!  This post is for both the ALA Annual-going and the wish-they-were-going.  First, the going:  I know that there will be a lot happening at ALA Annual, but here’s an opportunity to celebrate that you won’t want to miss – The 50th Anniversary Celebration of The Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) will be held Saturday, June 22, 2019 from 6-8 p.m. at the Renaissance Washington DC Downtown Hotel, 999 9th St NW, Grand Ballroom North.  Appetizers and a cash bar will be available. And, author Colson Whitehead is the keynote speaker! Register now! Read on to find out about other ways to support FTRF.

We all value the freedom to read freely, but have you ever wondered how that freedom is protected? The FTRF has a lot to do with it.  You can find detailed information on the website at, but here’s a quick overview:

The Freedom to Read Foundation is a non-profit legal and educational organization affiliated with the American Library Association.  Its mission is to protect and defend the First Amendment to the U.S.  Constitution and provide support to libraries and librarians seeking to do the same. For example, it supports librarians in effectively defending books from censorship challenges and it provides funds to librarians who lose their jobs in these endeavors. Sadly, it does happen!

Another major part of its mission is to participate in litigation dealing with freedom of speech and of the press.  Spanning 50 years now, the list of cases includes those dealing with school boards trying to censor books, privacy, pornography, obscenity, internet access, net neutrality and more.  Basically, the FTRF is out there fighting our legal battles and protecting the very cornerstones of the librarian profession; That is something worth celebrating!

The FTRF is a separate organization from the American Library Association, and it depends on membership contributions. You can support for the First Amendment and safeguard the freedom to read by joining or donating to the FTRF.  Some options:

  • Become a member;
  • Purchase tickets for, and attend the Anniversary Celebration (with or without membership)
  • Donate to the Kickstarter campaign and get a free copy of Reading Dangerously, a commemorative book produced for the 50th anniversary.  Important things to note include:
  1. Neil Gaiman is writing the forward, people!
  2. There is a bracelet prize that lists titles of banned children’s books. But prizes only kick in if the campaign reaches its goal of $10,000 by June 3rd.  The clock is ticking!

Let’s see how many new supporters we can get for the Freedom to Read Foundation.  Please spread the word in your libraries and communities. It’s as important now as ever.

Betsy Boyce Brainerd, J.D., M.L.I.S., serves as Co-Chair of the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee. She is the Family Place Coordinator for the Arapahoe Libraries in Centennial, CO.

This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: Professionalism and Professional Development.




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