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.
It’s time to make sure our planning is in place for this year’s Banned Books Week, which begins September 18.
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.”
Over the past year challenges to books in school and public libraries have garnered a lot of media attention. Most of these challenges are books that feature characters that identify as LGBTQ+ and that address racism in its many forms. Article III of the Library Bill of Rights states: Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
The good news: #PLA2022 hosted multiple sessions on intellectual freedom and book challenges. You can guess the bad news: there has been an uptick in book, service, and program challenges so there is a big need for these sessions.
We are all different, and that’s okay. I say this statement out loud at minimum once a month, usually when confronted with the unsavory news about banned and challenged books, book burnings, etc.; activities that are, at best, seriously misguided attempts to protect young minds from being exposed to topics deemed to be above their maturity level. The empath in me is always seeking to fully understand and walk in the proverbial shoes of someone else. However, the more I peruse the list of challenged titles, the more confused I become. Our country is a gumbo of cultures enhanced by the lived experiences and traditions of diverse people whose uniqueness adds flavor to our Americanness. Just as there is no such thing as a one ingredient recipe, neither should there be the promotion and elevation of one singular story. To say that there is not room for more than one…
Hats. I wear many of them. Literal hats of winter because in New York it gets cold. But other hats too. Teen librarian, school librarian, media literacy skills teacher, colleague, friend, relative, potential problem predictor, in-house worrier, tech-trouble-shooter, mask/face covering supplier, hand sanitizer distributor, and so many more hats.