"Harry Potter" words in distinctive movie font, with lightning bolt on the step of the P.

A Birthday Chat About Intellectual Freedom with Harry Potter

As I get ready to celebrate Harry Potter’s 31st birthday on July 31 (yes, the book was published twenty years ago, but his “real” birthday is July 31, and he was eleven when he was “born” into the literary landscape), I’ve decided to indulge myself in a little fanfic interview with the adult Chosen One about intellectual freedom.

Group of multi-ethnic teenagers in school hallway. Photography. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016.

Origins

On June 26, 2017, hearings began in the U.S. District Court for Arizona to decide the fate of Tucson’s Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies program. It has been seven years for this educational program to get its day in court. That’s at least two generations of high-school students, who because of narrow minded political concerns, were denied the right to study their own origins.

Prison

The Mass Book Banning in Texas Prisons

If we are truly standing for intellectual freedom, which includes the freedom to read, we must also extend our efforts to people in prison. While outrage on behalf of censorship in schools or public libraries is easier in many ways, if we ignore this issue in Texas prisons, we are absolutely neglecting the over 2 million Americans imprisoned nationwide.

Picture of Jerilynn Williams by Bolton Williams

10 Years After a Challenge: An Interview with Jerilynn Williams

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.

Tessa Kelso

Tessa Kelso and the Los Angeles Book Burners

Last week, the California Library Association announced this year’s inductees into the California Library Hall of Fame. One of them is Tessa Kelso, the sixth head librarian of the Los Angeles Public Library. It’s worth looking back at this formidable librarian and an unusual episode in the history of intellectual freedom where she took the offensive against a would-be book burner by suing him… and winning.