Book awards and Potential Challenges

As we eagerly await the announcements for the youth book/media awards on January 24, we should also be prepared with tools to address potential challenges. Recently, the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom reported that in the last three months, they have contacted over 300 times regarding censorship issues. Contrast that to 2019, when there were 337 reports in total. Here then, is a reminder of some resources and a preview of some new resources to support the work we do



For those of you attending the LibLearnX meeting, January 21-24, 2022, here are some programs that may be of interest (in alphabetical order):

  • 50+ Years in the Making: Claiming Social Justice as a Core Value
    • The program considers the ongoing efforts of the Intellectual Freedom and Social Justice Working Group. The ALA Council at Midwinter Conference 2021 approved The Resolution to Condemn White Supremacy and Fascism as Antithetical to Library Work and charged the Working Group with reviewing neutrality rhetoric and identifying possible alternatives. The ALA Executive Board subsequently added a charge to the Working Group to host dialogues on neutrality as part of its activities. This program will engage the audience in facilitated small-group dialogues about the role of neutrality in libraries and explore options for centering social justice as a guiding principle.
  • Diversity or Adversity: Building Bridges Through Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Programming
    • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programming should be seen as ideas that promote acceptance and solutions that are put in place for change. DEI programming can complement and reinforce the organization’s mission, vision, and values. Programming should have an impact to deliver meaningful information and should align with the organization’s needs. Our library’s Diversity and Inclusion committee recognized the need for such programming and has developed several ways and methods to deliver DEI content. This presentation will discuss our programs, how/where we deliver the content, the impact that these programs have made, and strategies to avoid ineffective programming.
  • Embracing Diversity in Book Evaluation Committees
    • Learn how to set up and structure a book evaluation committee to create annual youth booklists for targeted audiences. Presenters will discuss their own experiences and strategies for success, whether dealing with staffing issues, problematic titles, reader engagement, age ratings, translation issues, or community booklist promotion. Participants will learn how to embrace and uplift voices from underrepresented communities while navigating issues of representation and authenticity. In addition, participants will learn how to use the resulting booklists for collection development and enrichment, particularly across a multi-branch library system.
  • Practical Tools for Implementing a Collection Diversity Audit
    • Implementing a diversity audit is critical to understanding the current state of your collection and will lead the way to developing plans for ongoing improvement. Participants will learn how to create and conduct a diversity audit, evaluate materials for inclusivity, and develop strategies for patrons to find diverse material in the collection.
  • Problematic Authors and Problematic Works – An Intellectual Freedom Q&A
    • Content challenges are a familiar experience for most library staff. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has provided many resources in which to counter such challenges. However, the distinction between challenged materials and challenged authors has largely gone undifferentiated and unexplored. In response, The ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC), in conjunction with OIF, is putting together a Q&A document to assist in clarifying how library staff should handle authors and creators deemed problematic. This session will provide an opportunity for IFC members to present this document, facilitate discussion, and solicit feedback from the general membership.


The OIF and the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee have created a document that goes with the last mentioned LibLearnX program on problematic authors. This document is in its final stages of revision and approval and will be released in a few weeks. Watch the OIF blog for the announcement of the release of this document!

Allison G. Kaplan is the co-chair of the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee.

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