This past summer, patrons around the country challenged libraries about their subscriptions to Teen Vogue. The online article that caused the controversy was published on the Teen Vogue website and was about anal sex. The article was not published in the paper copies of the magazine, but patrons called on libraries to end Teen Vogue subscriptions because of its online content. A public library director, who wishes to remain anonymous, shares how she and her library staff worked through the challenge.
Before she worked for ALA, Kristin experienced a very public and personal challenge to books when she was the young adult librarian at the West Bend Community Memorial Library. In her current position, Kristin has the opportunity to use this very difficult experience from her past to help librarians who are facing challenges today. Here is Kristin’s story.
Val Nye interviewed John Harer about a faculty member’s request to remove Holocaust denial books from a large academic library circulating collection. The incident they discussed happened in the mid-1990s, but has lasting ramifications today.
I recommend the book for anyone interested in the First Amendment and freedom of speech issues. The first half of the book is compelling and timeless while the last half of the book is specific to the current moment and political environment.
Challenges to books occasionally occur in academic libraries, but artwork is a more frequent target of challenges in academic libraries. I recently interviewed John Harer, an associate professor of library science at East Carolina University. In the 1990s he was working at Texas A&M when students launched a complaint about a piece of artwork that was hanging near the entrance of the library.
Intellectual freedom provides our world with innovation: new technology, cures to diseases, new ways of providing food to starving communities. Intellectual freedom enriches culture. Answering the question, “why is intellectual freedom important” is something I am continuing to explore and think about.
I want to believe librarianship has entered a new era of working to help people understand information and define authority for themselves. I believe this is going to be an ongoing critical element of teaching and understanding information, and I believe librarians have an important role in this education and dialogue. The ACRL framework document outlines the practices that learners should have in this area.
Peg Johnson, the library director at Santa Fe Community College, explains how she worked to change the campus’ policy on filtering content on the library’s computers.
Former ALA President Ann Symons said it well in explaining that a materials challenge is a trip to hell, something that you wouldn’t want to wish on your worst enemy. However, I believe that facing the experience with honest communication and an understanding of the right of each person to their particular viewpoint are the keys to navigating the journey successfully. My parents taught me to stand up for I believed in and supporting intellectual freedom and universal access are, for me, core beliefs.
We may read about challenges and censorship in the news but when the story no longer makes headlines, the librarians are still doing their jobs. Ten years later, Ms. Barnett still advocates for access to all resources.