As 2022 draws to a close, it’s interesting—and important—to consider the impact of last month’s elections on issues of intellectual freedom, particularly on the local level. While this will vary widely from community to community, a good place to stay up to date on these across the country, and other current issues, is ALA’s Intellectual Freedom News, which is updated weekly here. It offers news organized into categories: Some perspectives on intellectual freedom issues being affected by recent elections are presented in yesterday’s New York Times article on the current “Surge in Book Bans.” If you experience a challenge at your organization, please remember to share information about it with the Office of Intellectual Freedom. As ALA says “Reporting censorship and challenges to materials, resources, and services is vital to developing the best resources to defend library resources and to protect against challenges before they happen.” It takes all of…
In 2021, Amanda Jones was named School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year. A little more than one year later and Ms. Jones is now embroiled in legal actions due to online harassment related to her work in promoting the right to read and diverse library collections. The lead article in the November/December 2022 issue of American Libraries, “When It Happens To You,” is about what to do when you get caught in the middle of a book challenge. It’s all well and good to say “stand up and fight for the right to read”! But that is often easier said than done and, in these divisive times, can be very scary. Read on for some tools we hope will help in this situation.
When doing outreach for grade school children my favorite books to book talk often come from a genre that is frequently challenged: Horror! It’s a delight to discuss scary stories because these conversations reveal how children are their own best selectors and even censors when they are given the ability to choose what they read.
Sadly, it was not surprising in late August when USA Today ran a headline calling librarians the “perfect target” for those who would ban books from schools. Librarians are often the purchasers of materials and the people to suggest and connect students with books of interest. Of course, they—we—would be under attack from those who would limit access to information of which censors do not approve.
It’s time to make sure our planning is in place for this year’s Banned Books Week, which begins September 18.
If you attended the ALA 2022 Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. this past June, then you know how great it was to be back in person and how many presentations and meetings there were that focused on book challenges and threats to intellectual freedom. If you missed those sessions or if you were unable to attend, below are just a few highlights. Legislation Many states across the country are targeting intellectual freedom through legislation. Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom, reported noting three trends in legislation: 1. Targeting Librarians and Educators. This trend includes eliminating protections under the law for librarians and educators and allows suits by private citizens against them, meaning that a parent could sue a librarian for content in the library. 2. Parental Rights. This trend focuses on what legislators are calling “divisive issues” meaning content in the classroom or library that focuses…
It doesn’t take a librarian to notice the surge in news stories about book challenges in public and school libraries, disputed materials vanishing from shelves and librarians getting fired. The stories are everywhere, but are you ready if this happens to you? Let’s flip a popular catchphrase to show that “sometimes the best offense is a good defense.”