November 6, 2013

OIF provides tips for libraries under fire

Reprinted from The Scoop blog. For a full summary of the Orland Park Public Library controversy, read the entire post

Illinois Library Comes Under Fire

“Sometimes libraries that are doing ‘all the right things’ pay a price for their excellence through uncivil attacks and attempts to dismantle their work,” Barbara Jones, director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF), told American Libraries. She is referring to Orland Park (Ill.) Public Library (OPPL) in south suburban Chicago, which has endured several intellectual-freedom challenges over the past few months. “It is unfair, but it happens and the library and community need to know how to respond.”

OIF is available at any time to offer support and to provide tools and resources to libraries navigating such challenges, and is currently developing workshops for librarians on how to handle such situations. Here are some tips and tools from OIF to prepare for the time your library needs to respond:

Additionally, OIF recommends that libraries should:

  • Involve your library attorney as soon as you are aware of a potential controversy and ensure that the attorney reviews any response to public complaints and demands for library documents.
  • Make your best effort to reply promptly and courteously to users’ concerns. Be transparent about the processes by which you handle complaints, and invite members of your community to learn more.
  • Remember your mission, policies, and core values, and be prepared to explain both the value of a public library and the library’s role in a democratic society. Make sure that trustees, library staff, and volunteers also understand the library’s mission and are able to relate it to library policies.
  • Do not apologize for policies that are designed to uphold intellectual freedom, users’ privacy, and access to a diverse range of ideas.
  • Encourage local supporters to speak out. Often local ad hoc groups form to challenge unfair attacks on the library, and they are usually successful.
  • Remember that the best response to unfair, malicious, or untruthful is one that focuses on the issue at hand. Provide facts and information about best practices, professional standards, and the library’s legal obligations. Avoid personal attacks.

Libraries dealing with challenges involving internet access may find these resources helpful when developing messaging and responding to inquiries:

October 31, 2013

New USA Freedom Act could reform the USA PATRIOT Act

Reposted from the ALA Washington Office’s District Dispatch:

Today, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced the USA FREEDOM Act, a bill that would place restrictions on bulk phone and internet government surveillance, and permit companies to make public the number of FISA orders and National Security Letters received. This bicameral piece of legislation would rewrite section 215 of the Patriot Act—also called the “library provision”—and impose new limits on section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
The bill would also require the government itself to make additional disclosures about the intelligence surveillance it conducts. The legislation would also establish a process for declassifying significant opinions issued by the FISA Court and create an Office of the Special Advocate charged with protecting privacy at the FISA Court.
As of this writing, the legislation appears to have a high level of bipartisan support from both chambers—according to a statement from Sen. Leahy, the bill has more than 70 bipartisan cosponsors in the House and 16 cosponsors in the Senate. Many of the cosponsors, including legislators Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Lee Terry, (R-NE), voted “no” on the defeated Amash amendment in July.

Help put a stop to warrantless surveillance. Please ask both your U.S. representative and senators to cosponsor this important legislation. If they have, please call and thank them for bringing more transparency and oversight to these spying programs.

Link to post: http://www.districtdispatch.org/2013/10/new-freedom-act-reform-patriot-act/

Take action link: http://capwiz.com/ala/callalert/index.tt?alertid=62983561

Text of legislation: https://www.leahy.senate.gov/download/usa-freedom-act_-introduced-10-29-131

October 30, 2013

IFRT accepting nominations for 2014 John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award

John Phillip Immroth

 

The American Library Association (ALA) Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) is seeking nominations for its 2014 John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award. The John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award honors intellectual freedom fighters in and outside the library profession who have demonstrated remarkable personal courage in resisting censorship. The award consists of $500 and a citation. Individuals, a group of individuals or an organization are eligible for the award. The deadline for nominations is Dec. 1, 2013.

John Phillip Immroth was a teacher, author, scholar, advocate and defender of First Amendment rights.  He was the founder and first chair of the Intellectual Freedom Round Table in 1973.  His impact on the ideal of intellectual freedom and its practice was great.

The Immroth nomination form is available on the ALA website. Nominations and supporting evidence should be sent to:  Shumeca Pickett, ALA, 50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611. Telephone: 312-280-4220 or 800-545-2433, ext. 4220. Fax: 312-280-4227. E-mail: spickett@ala.org

The Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) provides a forum for the discussion of activities, programs and problems in intellectual freedom of libraries and librarians; serves as a channel of communications on intellectual freedom matters; promotes a greater opportunity for involvement among the members of the ALA in defense of intellectual freedom; promotes a greater feeling of responsibility in the implementation of ALA policies on intellectual freedom.  

October 30, 2013

IFRT accepting nominations for 2014 Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award

Eli M Oboler

The American Library Association (ALA) Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) is seeking nominations for its 2014 Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award. The biennial award is presented for the best published work in the area of intellectual freedom and consists of $500 and a citation. Nominations will be accepted through Dec. 1, 2013.

The award was named for Eli M. Oboler, the extensively published Idaho State University librarian known as a “champion of intellectual freedom who demanded the dismantling of all barriers to freedom of expression.”  Works to be considered for the award may be single articles (including review pieces), a series of thematically connected articles, books or manuals published on the local, state or national level in English or English translation. The work must have been published within the two-year period ending the December prior to the ALA Annual Conference at which it is granted. The 2014 award is for work published between 2012 and 2013.

The Oboler nomination form is available on the ALA website. Nominations and supporting evidence should be sent to:  Shumeca Pickett, ALA, 50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611. Telephone: 312-280-4220 or 800-545-2433, ext. 4220. Fax: 312-280-4227. Email: spickett@ala.org.

The Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) provides a forum for the discussion of activities, programs and problems in intellectual freedom of libraries and librarians; serves as a channel of communications on intellectual freedom matters; promotes a greater opportunity for involvement among the members of the ALA in defense of intellectual freedom; promotes a greater feeling of responsibility in the implementation of ALA policies on intellectual freedom.  

October 24, 2013

Stop Watching Us: Join the Rally Against Mass Surveillance

This Saturday, October 26th, on the 12th anniversary of the signing of the USA PATRIOT Act, StopWatching.us, a coalition of over 100 advocacy organizations and individuals across the political spectrum (including the American Library Association) will host the largest rally against against NSA surveillance in Washington, DC. Beginning at 12PM, in front of Union Station, marchers will deliver more than a half-million petitions to Congress during the rally to remind Congressional representatives that mass surveillance is unacceptable and should be stopped. For more information on joining the rally, check out Stop Watching Us coalition website at rally.stopwatching.us.

Libraries and individuals unable to join the rally can continue to work on behalf of privacy rights by participating in Choose Privacy Week. Sponsored by the American Library Association, the fifth annual Choose Privacy Week will take place May 1–7, 2014, and provide an opportunity for libraries to educate and engage users about privacy and surveillance issues. For more information go to chooseprivacyweek.org.

October 16, 2013

OIF urges Alamogordo, N.M, schools to reinstate Gaiman’s “Neverwhere”

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom has sent a letter to the superintendent of the Alamogordo, N. M., Public Schools, asking that the district rescind its removal of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere from Alamogordo High School classrooms and the library.

The ban, which was reported last week, came after a parent complained about content on one page of the book.  In interviews, Superintendent George Straface has stated that the removal is temporary, pending a review of the book by school administrators.

In the letter, OIF Director Barbara Jones points out that the removal of the book goes against the interests of students – as well as against the stated policies of the school district:

As your own policies emphasize, “Resources shall be recommended for their strengths rather than rejected for their weaknesses, and shall be judged as a whole.”

Follow @oif on Twitter for the latest updates on this ongoing situations.

ALA letter to Dr Straface

September 27, 2013

Banned Books Week Hero spotlight on student activists of Emmaus, PA

The Banned Books Week Hero spotlight of the day goes to student activist Isaiah Zukowski from Emmaus, PA for taking action when the school board considered a challenge to Prep, by Curtis Sittenfeld and Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, by Tom Wolfe, both summer reading books.

Read more about why he took action, his thoughts on book censorship, and his heroes here. To learn more about the challenge, go to:

To view all the Banned Books Week Heroes, click here.

September 26, 2013

Banned Books Week Hero spotlight: DaNae Leu, Davis School District, Utah

Today’s Banned Books Week Hero spotlight shines on DeNae Leu. Leu played an integral role in preventing Patricia Polacco’s children’s book In Our Mothers’ House from being placed on restricted access in her school library. According to Wanda Mae Huffaker, chair of the Utah Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee, Leu’s efforts helped to draw national attention to the book challenge and laid the groundwork for the ACLU lawsuit that spurred the school board to return In My Mother’s House to the district’s library shelves.

Find out more about Leu and her story, click here. See also:

We also would like to draw your attention to the video the Utah Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee produced for last year’s ALA 50 State Salute to the Banned Books Virtual Read-Out. The video features two families reading passages from In Our Mothers’ House.

For a listing of all Banned Books Week Heroes, click here.

September 25, 2013

“Invisible Man” made visible again by NC school board

Today, in a 6-1 vote, the Randolph County, NC Board of Education voted to rescind its recently enacted ban on Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.  The original vote to remove it was 5-2.

University of Illinois professor Emily Knox attended the hearing and live tweeted the proceedingHere’s more on the story from Kathi Keys, the local journalist who broke and doggedly kept after the story.

You can read OIF’s letter to the school board here.

September 25, 2013

Banned Books Week Heroes Spotlight: Students at Lane Tech High School, Chicago, IL

Today’s featured Banned Books Week Heroes are the members of the book club 451 Degrees at Lane Tech High School in Chicago, IL, who stood in opposition the order made by Chicago Public Schools to remove the highly acclaimed graphic novel, Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi, from classrooms (and, initially, from libraries). These students include, but are not limited to:

Grace Barry

Evangeline Lacroix

Carol Perez

Levi Todd

To learn more about the controversy, check out:

Freedom to Read Foundation files FOIA request to Chicago Public Schools over removal of Persepolis

Free Speech Advocates Defend Persepolis in Chicago

Chip Kidd takes action to free Persepolis

Missing the Point on Persepolis

Also view the Chicago Tonight panel featuring OIF director Barbara Jones, Kristine Mayle with the Chicago Teachers Union, and Lane Tech students Katie McDermott and Alexa Rapp.

Watch March 18, 2013 – Controversy Over “Persepolis” on PBS. See more from Chicago Tonight.

For more information on our Banned Books Week Heroes, click here.

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