Forbidden Culture Week 2016 was curated and hosted by librarians, but it explored issues far beyond traditional libraries. There were 30 events during the week that explored writing, music, art, and the internet, with events led by musicians, historians, scholars, librarians, and writers.
The role of libraries in preserving intellectual freedom, as well as the integrity of our collections and interactions we have with patrons, is based on critical thinking and clear-eyed reasoning, not the convenience of a hyperlink.
The Columbia Journalism Review recently discussed how the news media could learn a lot from librarians and the framework, and set of principles, we’ve developed for dealing with the onslaught of digital information. But the truth is that in a culture devoted to the free flow of information and free expression, we learn best when we learn from each other.
Librarians are simple creatures, for the most part. We want to uphold the First Amendment, provide access to information, find the right answer to an asked question, and maybe recommend someone a good book. We are committed to education, accessibility, intellectual freedom, innovation, and maybe cardigans.
Far more than just “keepers of the printed book” (our original job description), we are now, perhaps more than ever, guardians of our teens’ emotional as well as intellectual needs. A large part of our job responsibility is to provide a safe space, a blanket of warmth and comfort, a plethora of intellectual and emotional resources to the young adults we serve.
At a Des Moines Public Schools School Board meeting last month, board members wore black armbands to honor the legacy of students’ right to free expression, including the right to peaceful political protest. The armbands were a visual link from the recent student walkouts and protests in Des Moines and around the country back to the landmark 1969 Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent School District Supreme Court decision that has forever tied Des Moines to the issue of students’ rights.
Librarians Sarah Houghton and Andy Woodworth recently launched an independent special project, Operation 451, which directly addresses several of the core principles of librarianship.
With the summer movie release of a frequently challenged children’s book, librarians can expect an increase in visibility and circulation of the series.
The new issue of the Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy, Vol. 1, No. 2-3, is now live and available to subscribers online.
In these politically charged times, librarians and educators on every point of the political spectrum are mobilizing to create and share resources to support the civil discourse essential to maintaining intellectual freedom in our schools and community.