As curators of collections, authorities on access, or just plain bookworms, we have an important role to play right now. If intellectual freedom is based on exploring, changing, improving through the discovery of new ideas then we have an opportunity, because of our particular skill set, to help shift the conversation.
With its three distinguished leaders over the half-century, the office has transformed into a thriving resource for librarians when First Amendment rights have been trampled. And we couldn’t have done it without you. Here are a few stats that highlight the work we’re proud to continue, and the obstacles our team is determined to tackle with your support.
The reasons people challenge books, in schools and in libraries, are numerous. Regardless, a surprising number of Americans, when faced with the right reason, are actually pro book banning. This is reflected in a recent YouGov.com poll, which asked what kinds of content in books should be banned, and in what settings.
In most book challenges, there is one book that is targeted, for very specific reasons. The reasons behind the challenge may not be unique, but, at the very least, they are reasons that are specific to the challenged book. Instead of one challenge for one book, Dixie County Superintendent Mike Thomas has issued a ban on all materials with, “profanity, cursing or inappropriate subject matter.”
Most librarians are aware of books that get challenged and the tools needed to protect their library against censorship, but censorship can also affect our digital content, whether it’s databases, e-books, streaming content, apps or electronic tools. Be aware of the current trend in challenges to these materials and how ALA is working with librarians and vendors to protect access to these great resources.
We have an obligation to understand the inherent weaknesses of social media environments and actively educate about them. It might serve us to remember that at one point the implantation of OPACs’, or the migration of journals into databases, or the growth of digital archives as dynamic new platforms of publishing and dissemination also seemed foreign to our mission. Our profession is constantly evolving and social media has become a maelstrom.
The Conejo Valley Unified School Board is meeting tonight to discuss and vote on a problematic Selection and Evaluation of Instructional Materials policy.
Interested in censorship? Freedom to read? Privacy? Are you a good writer? Creative? Engaging? Do you know how to balance text with graphics and hyperlinks? We’re looking for YOU!
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.
The work of advocating, facilitating and protecting intellectual freedoms is important activity, and is often carried out by everyday people. I thought it would be useful to speak with those whose work is dependent on intellectual freedom, and how libraries impact who they are and what they do.