ALA Virtual Conference 2020

ALA Virtual 2020

I will be honest, initially, I was not excited for ALA Virtual. As much as I love attending conference, Virtual Conferences are not my thing. I tired, unsuccessfully, to attend SLJ’s Virtual Day of Dialog event. I don’t like sitting in front of a computer screen and something about traveling through a digital exhibit hall seems so forced to me. So, when I saw the ALA Virtual sign up, I ignored it.

After much thought, I decided to stop and take a look at the sessions. In going through, a few have caught my eye, but I am really excited to attend the IFRT’s presentation called “More than Banned Books: Recent Research on Intellectual Freedom”

As the description states, ” We are always hearing about certain intellectual freedom issues like banned books and data privacy in the news. However, there is more to intellectual freedom than just the headlines. This panel will update you on recent empirical research in intellectual freedom and censorship from academic experts in the field. Shannon Oltmann will share some surprising information about librarian perspectives on intellectual freedom. She will also address the importance of intellectual freedom in conservative, rural areas as well as moderate or liberal urban and suburban locales. Emily Knox will discuss her projects on intellectual freedom and diverse books and the relationship between intellectual freedom and social justice. The panelists will also discuss their Mapping Information Access research project on restricted internet access and book challenges in Alabama, its inconclusive results, and the need for more research. This program is co-sponsored by the Freedom to Read Foundation.”

If you can’t join the session, I hope to be live-blogging from it.

Intellectual Freedom has been on my mind a lot lately. How do we as libraries grapple with providing access to resources and spaces if they can be used in manners that are harmful to others or incite hate? Where do we draw a line? Do we? This is not as much an issue in my world as a School Librarian, and I know where my own personal beliefs stand, but I wonder how public libraries that do not have as clear cut and distinct policies as the one I worked in previously handle this.

Another event that I’m looking forward to attending, but is not part of ALA Virtual (you don’t need to register to attend) is ALA Book Award Celebration. Last year, I served on the Stonewall Book Award Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award committee. The Award ceremony is virtual this year, and it was fun to prepare for. Instead of writing a speech to introduce Akwaeke Emezi, author of Pet, I got to record a video at my dining room table. I’m really excited to see how it all comes together, and I hope you can all join us to hear from our amazing authors. ALA is using the same link for each award, but hosting the Awards at different times. Stonewall will be at 3pm CT, and can be found on the ALA Youtube Channel.

I’m looking forward to Annual this year- even if it is virtual- and am looking forward to reading the Live Blogs along with so many of you!

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