I started my #ALAAC2022 experience with the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table’s (#GNCRT) Friday Forum which focused on Comics Challenges. Taking place from 11-3, there were three unique panels comprised of creators, publishers, and librarians. The first panel (which, full disclosure, I also moderated) was about challenges among award-winning books. The second panel focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion in comics. The forum ended with a panel about concrete tips on how to address comics challenges.
Censorship is a hot topic right now and a genuine concern for libraries everywhere. To my knowledge, my community hasn’t yet had any formal challenges. Still, I like to be prepared. So, I nervously and dutifully tuned into “Prepare Your Library for Today’s Censorship Battles.” As if the topic itself weren’t enough, the presenters were ALA staffers: Deborah Caldwell-Stone and Kristin Pekoll from ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) and Megan Murray Cusick of ALA’s Public Policy and Advocacy Office.
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
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.
The Assistant Director for ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, Kristin Pekoll, offered an “on-demand” session during the ALA Conference about 2020 trends and numbers as well as discussing how the information is obtained. It was a quick but fascinating look at censorship in our libraries.
In 2017, a young mother named Michaela Jaros was in the West Chicago (Illinois) Public Library when her three-year-old daughter pulled a picture book from the shelves. The book was This Day in June, by Gayle E. Pitman, a colorfully illustrated poem depicting a Gay Pride parade. SLJ called This Day in June “a great addition to a school or personal library to add diversity in a responsible manner without contributing to stereotypes about LGBT people.” Ms. Jaros did not share SLJ’s opinion, and immediately brought a challenge to the library.
…Don’t hesitate to speak up!