It’s been a busy time for the vital work of protecting the right to read, and so here are some updates from the Public Library Association (PLA) 2022 Conference and National Library Week
Public Library Association Conference
There were many sessions for learning and discussing this issue at the in person event in Portland and virtually last month and you can learn a lot about them from the excellent ALSC guest bloggers using #PLA2022. These include Alec Chunn’s post on “Censorship Preparedness at #PLA2022” and Shelley Sutherland’s post on “Horrible, Evil Library Books”
National Library Week
In ALA’s annual State of America’s Libraries report, released last week to mark National Library Week, intellectual freedom was a major focus. In fact, the introduction to the entire report by ALA President Patricia “Patty” Wong was titled “Let’s Band Together to Fight Book Bans.” She writes about these “challenging times to be a library professional . . . with a new scourge [of] an unprecedented uptick in book challenges.” Her piece is inspiring and personal, while offering concrete actions each of us can take in this ongoing work. The report also includes a review of efforts to fight censorship across the country, an infographic of 2021 statistics from the Office for Intellectual Freedom, and the list of the top 10 most challenged books from among the 729 reported challenges in the last year.
And just announced is Unite Against Book Bans, a national initiative to empower readers everywhere to stand together in the fight against censorship. This effort by ALA is built on the premise that “Book bans harm communities” and encourages all of us to protect young people’s access to critical information to help them understand themselves and the world around them, protect adults’ opportunities to engage in teachable moments with their kids, and protect communities’ opportunities to learn and build mutual understanding. Learn more and add your voice and support here https://uniteagainstbookbans.org/
Andrew Medlar is co-chair of the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee and Director at BookOps, New York, New York.