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.”
April is Autism Acceptance Month! Over the last decade, libraries have done a lot of work to better support autistic families. Many libraries have started sensory storytimes and programs. Some allow autistic families to visit the library before official open hours to provide a less overstimulating experience. Other libraries have converted extra space into entire sensory rooms. However, a lot of misinformation about autism continues to circulate, and it affects how libraries serve their communities. Let’s bust some autism myths together.
On March 2, 2022, some of the members of the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee, led a discussion on intellectual freedom and youth services for the ALSC Community Forum. Here are some of the resources and issues to consider that were discussed.
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
Challenges to Critical Race Theory (CRT) being included in educational curricula from elementary schools to universities is making headlines across the United States. A troubling – and perhaps unexpected- related trend is now occurring in school and public libraries: using CRT as a reason to ban books from library collections. As so much of the world is working to move toward greater inclusivity, authors and librarians are seeing the opposite. If you’re a librarian facing a challenge to materials, you’re not alone, and you’re not on your own. While no one can predict the future, it’s certain that CRT challenges to library collections are not going away. As librarians and advocates for free access to library materials and the benefits they provide, it’s our duty to keep materials accessible to all readers.
There is a dramatic surge in materials challenges at school and public libraries across the United States. What can librarians do to protect intellectual freedom? As a local activist turned elected local official, I have a few thoughts on how you can defend against book banning in the community where you live. If challenges occur at a library where you work, you must be unbiased and confer with the leadership of your institution. It’s all about organizing: mobilizing large numbers of people.
Our committee, Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers, is part of Priority Group 1: Child Advocacy. We are dedicated to lifting all library staff up to advocate from any position for underserved children and their caregivers. In our toolkits and blog posts, we detail the process of researching your community, listening to your community, and comparing the needs to your current and potential library services. The later piece of evaluating your own organization is crucial for conducting outreach, programs, and services to underserved communities. We have two committee members, Erika Lehtonen and Melody Leung, who have worked together to create a list of tips when conducting advocacy through an equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) lens. Spend time understanding your organization and the people in it. No matter if you are a library director, school librarian, public librarian, library staff, or in library adjacent industries; concentrate on building relationships…
Outreach to underserved communities is an overwhelming endeavor. Our committee does not want to make it look easy because it truly is not. However, we truly believe that all library staff can do this type of work with the right tools and support. This is why one of our focuses this year is to bridge the gap between tangible resources (like our existing toolkits) and how to get started. Melody Leung and Marika Jeffrey wrote an article in this summer’s issue of Children and Libraries with some guiding questions to help evaluate your community, develop fruitful partnerships, and implement programs and outreach with specific communities in mind. Guiding questions can be helpful but specific examples might help bring those concepts to life. Here is a specific example about reaching out to a migrant community: Getting Started Four years ago, I started working in a rural community in Washington State. To…