Intellectual Freedom News

Intellectual Freedom News

January 29, 2016 – A free biweekly compilation of news by the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom including: current book challenges in libraries and schools; articles about privacy, internet filtering and censorship; ALA activities, conferences and institutes, products, online learning opportunities, awards and grants, international exchanges; and how to get involved and make the most of what ALA offers.

Teaching Tools

Teaching Tools

I must admit that I am concerned with the current trend of attempting to censor or ban children’s books that are not in keeping with one’s political or historical beliefs. I can understand that some books are wrong, outdated or even incorrect. I myself am often not happy with the salacious or overly violent content of some of the books in my library, but my job is to educate my students and to support their First Amendment rights.

Lee & Low Diversity in Publishing Survey

Diversity in Publishing Industry

“Publishing is not alone when it comes to having a lack of diversity problem. All media, including film, television, and theater, are having similar conversations about diversity. It is plain to see that our society as a whole has a problem. We believe we are at a crucial time right now. We all have to decide if the country in which we live is better off if we conduct our lives separately or together. The diversity problem is not the responsibility of diverse people to solve. It is a problem for everyone to solve. Now that the Diversity Baseline Survey is completed, the real work toward changing the status quo begins. It is not going to be easy. Knowing where we stand and establishing a baseline was the first step. Knowing the baseline numbers gives us a way to measure progress going forward, but only our actions can change things for the better.” Lee & Low

A Birthday Cake for George Washington

Take the cake

Usually, we think of censorship as the formal action of a government or government official: a school principal pulls a book from the high school library, a public library board votes to remove a title from the catalog, a university fires a professor who publishes something unpopular.
A Birthday Cake for George Washington, written by Ramin Ganeshram and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, is a little different. This one, published by Scholastic, and immediately criticized for its portrayal of smiling slaves, has been withdrawn BY SCHOLASTIC.

Just One Day

The Great Debate: What is “Appropriate” for Public School Libraries?

We come back to the question: what is ‘appropriate’ for public school libraries or libraries in general? It is more likely that this ongoing debate will never be solved.  For as long as libraries have collected materials to share with patrons, there is inevitably someone who wants to sanction the types of materials purchased and made accessible to the public. It remains our jobs as librarians, the disseminators of information, to uphold the ideals of intellectual freedom as well as encourage libraries to cultivate written collection development policies and procedures. A well balanced collection should have appeal to each and every patron. We must encourage the act of viewing a piece as a whole and not singling out words or scenes to devalue the novel as a collective entity.

World Religions

Fear and Intellectual Freedom

Discussions of Islam are essential to many subjects; history, literature, art, political science, geography, and science would all be immensely hurt by eliding Islam. Teaching calligraphy without talking about Islam would be like teaching art history without talking about Catholicism. Teachers and scholars need to be able to teach reality, not have to bend curriculum to societal fears. Students and children need to know what is real, not what some wish was real.

We Always Have Choice

We Always Have Choice

Earlier this month, Slate published a disconcerting article titled: “ISIS Gives Us No Choice but to Consider Limits on Speech.” It was written by eminent legal scholar Eric Posner, a Yale and Harvard educated academic, who is currently employed by the University of Chicago Law School. Posner’s is an old and insinuative argument. In order to stop an enemy, you must stop people from being curious about that enemy.


Author, Law Prof Catherine J. Ross Discusses How Schools Teach Lessons In Censorship at ALA Midwinter

Nearly half a century ago Justice Abe Fortas famously declared that students do not shed their constitutional right to freedom of speech at the schoolhouse gate.  Yet public schools in […]