June 27, 2014

Saturday intellectual freedom meetings & programs @ #ALAAC14

Here’s your daily list of must-do events at the 2014 ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas!

Saturday, June 28

Read A Banned Book at the Banned Books Virtual Read-Out

When: 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Where: right outside the Exhibit Hall
Who: You!
Why me?: On Saturday and Sunday, SAGE and OIF invite you to the Banned Books Readout Booth, where you can read a short passage from your favorite banned book and then speak from the heart about why that book matters to you. Readings will be video recorded and will be featured on the Banned Books Week YouTube channel during Banned Books Week, September 21-27, 2014. We strongly encourage you to bring your own copy of the book, but some books will be available for your reading.

Intellectual Freedom Committee meetings III & IV

When: 8:30-10:00 a.m. & 10:30-11:30 a.m.
Where: LVCC – N117
Who: Members of the IFC, liaisons & interested guests
Why me?: Participate in ongoing discussions about the revisions to interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights and talk about the IF challenges of the day

Intellectual Freedom Round Table Awards Reception

When: 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Where: LVH – Conference Room 08
Who: June Pinnell-Stephens will receive the Oboler Award for her book, Protecting Intellectual Freedom in Your Public Library: Scenarios from the Front Lines.  The New Jersey Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee will receive the Gerald Hodges Award for their decades of work promoting and defending intellectual freedom.
Why me?: Mix & mingle & support these deserving award winners!

Intellectual Freedom Round Table Program: Intellectual Freedom and the Defense of Graphic Novels and Comic Books

When: 1:00-2:30 p.m.
Where: LVCC – N240
Who: Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, will discuss the organization’s activities in defense of comic book creators, sellers, lenders, educators and readers. CBLDF is debuting their Banned Books Week Handout at this conference; check out the PDF here.
Why me?: The theme of Banned Books Week this year is banned and challenged comics and graphic novels. A great opportunity to learn how comics are being challenged and defended in library collections and elsewhere. Maybe you’ll get a great idea for a Banned Books Week program!

IFC/FTRF Issues Briefing Session

When: 3:00-4:00 p.m.
Where: LVCC – N109
Who: Leaders of the Intellectual Freedom Committee and the Freedom to Read Foundation will discuss key issues and litigation affecting access to information, the First Amendment, and libraries.
Why me?: Come to discuss your thoughts on the proposed revisions to the Library Bill of Rights interpretations and learn about some of the Hot Topics in IF.

June 26, 2014

IFAction News Roundup, June 15 – 21, 2014

The Office for Intellectual Freedom sponsors IFAction, an email list for those who would like updated information on news affecting intellectual freedom, censorship, privacy, access to information, and more. Click here to subscribe to this list. For an archive of all list postings since 1996, visit the IF Action archive. Below is a sample of articles from June 15 – June 21, 2014.


Filtering, Censorship, Whistle blowing, Free Press, and Free Speech Articles  

Are threats of violence on Facebook criminal, or free speech?

Chilling Speech Is No Laughing Matter

Senators fear plan will muzzle whistleblowers

[Gray County] Texas Deputy Displays Ignorance Of Laws He’s ‘Enforcing’ While Trying To Shut Down A Citizen’s Recording

Glenn Greenwald On Why Privacy Is Vital, Even If You ‘Have Nothing To Hide’


Access, the Digital Divide, Net Neutrality, and Intellectual Property Protection Articles 

Dems release bill to block Web ‘fast lanes’ 

Justices limit patents on software technology

How much did your university pay for your journals?

Time to retire the “digital divide?”

FCC chief unveils plan to close ‘Wi-Fi gap’ 


Privacy, Surveillance, Hacking, and Cybersecurity Articles    

How to Anonymize Everything You Do Online

Cloud companies have to act on privacy, even if the government won’t

How the European Google Decision May Have Nothing To Do With a Right to Be Forgotten

The ACLU’s latest lawsuit on warrantless cellphone tracking has hit a dead end

The US government doesn’t want you to know how the cops are tracking you

June 19, 2014

Happy 75th anniversary of the Library Bill of Rights!

Today we are pleased to commemorate the 75th anniversary of ALA’s adoption of the Library Bill of Rights on June 19, 1939 at the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco. The document – which is the basis for the work of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom – was created in the wake of several incidents of banning The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck in the late 1930s. It also was inspired by the rising tide of totalitarianism around the world.

The first iteration of  the Library Bill of Rights was a statement by the head of the Des Moines, Iowa, Public Library, Forrest Spaulding. It was adopted as policy by that library on November 21, 1938. Much of the wording remained the same for ALA’s version, although it was more universal.

Since its initial adoption, the Library Bill of Rights has been amended four times.  There are also over 20 official interpretations on issues ranging from Meeting Rooms to Labeling and Ratings Systems.  Many of these interpretations have Q&As associated with them to assist library boards and administrators adapt the policies to their specific circumstances.

To honor the Library Bill of Rights, take some time to read it and consider its meaning and relevance lo these many decades later.  And if you’re on social media, share this post!

June 17, 2014

IFAction News Roundup, June 8 – 14, 2014

The Office for Intellectual Freedom sponsors IFAction, an email list for those who would like updated information on news affecting intellectual freedom, censorship, privacy, access to information, and more. Click here to subscribe to this list. For an archive of all list postings since 1996, visit the IF Action archive. Below is a sample of articles from June 8 – June 14, 2014.


Filtering, Censorship, Whistle blowing, Free Press, and Free Speech Articles  

Free Speech or Illegal Threats? Justices Could Say

[Pensacola] Florida School Cancels Reading Program Over Cory Doctorow Book

Al Gore: Snowden not a traitor

Iraq tries to censor social media to disrupt ISIS communication, but its success is limited

Tech company, free speech groups to protect websites under attack 


Access, the Digital Divide, Net Neutrality, and Intellectual Property Protection Articles 

FCC Chief Plans Action on Wi-Fi in Schools

Removing Barriers to Competitive Community Broadband

Appeals Court Rules Digital Library Doesn’t Violate Copyright Law

How Do You Know The Public Domain Is In Trouble? It Requires A 52-Page Handbook To Determine If Something Is Public Domain

Verizon Says It Wants to Kill Net Neutrality to Help Blind, Deaf, and Disabled People


Privacy, Surveillance, Hacking, and Cybersecurity Articles    

Google’s New All-Seeing Satellites Have Huge Potential—For Good and Evil

Gmail Bug Could Have Exposed Every User’s Address

After Heartbleed, We’re Overreacting to Bugs That Aren’t a Big Deal

Mathematicians Urge Colleagues To Refuse To Work For The NSA

Because after all, it is not information that wants to be free, it’s us [TED Talk: Keren Elazari]

June 12, 2014

Black Caucus of the ALA statement on “The Speaker” sponsorship

In response to several requests to elaborate on the Black Caucus of the ALA’s (BCALA) decision to cosponsor the upcoming ALA Conference program, “Speaking about the Speaker,” BCALA president Jerome Offord, Jr. wrote an open letter to the library community detailing the organization’s reasoning.  Here’s a key excerpt from the letter:

“As our governance structure permits, a proposal was submitted to the Executive Board requesting that BCALA collaborate on this project. The conversation began with those members who were present during the first iteration of this issue. The Executive Board debated the pros and the cons, talked about the historical decision regarding this film in the past, and questioned why we should collaborate in this venture. One member clearly reflected that this film, and the possible showing of it in the past, sent a blowing ripple through ALA at the time. In order to truly understand the history behind this, you must remember, this was in 1977. Times have changed and the BCALA Executive Board felt it was time for us to discuss this political hot button.”

You can read the full letter here: TheSpeaker_PR_BCALA.  Our thanks to BCALA for their support of this program!

June 4, 2014

IFAction News Roundup, May 25-31, 2014

The Office for Intellectual Freedom sponsors IFAction, an email list for those who would like updated information on news affecting intellectual freedom, censorship, privacy, access to information, and more. Click here to subscribe to this list. For an archive of all list postings since 1996, visit the IF Action archive. Below is a sample of articles from May 25 – May 31, 2014.


Filtering, Censorship, Whistle blowing, Free Press, and Free Speech Articles  

House Approves Amendment To Protect Journalists From Revealing Sources

Appeals Court Reaffirms The Public Has The Right To Record The Police, Except For All The Times When It Doesn’t

Facebook may soon open up for kids under-13 with parental supervision

U. of Oregon’s New Academic-Freedom Policy Protects Students and Staff

NSA Releases Snowden Email, Says He Raised No Concerns About Spying


Access, the Digital Divide, Net Neutrality, and Intellectual Property Protection Articles

How to Build a Kinder Web for the Transgender Community

Court Approves F.C.C. Plan to Subsidize Rural Broadband Service

3 must-knows about teachers and copyright

Skype to get ‘real-time’ translator

5 ways Maya Angelou influenced education


Privacy, Surveillance, Hacking, and Cybersecurity Articles    

Germany Mulls Arbitration for Web ‘Right to Be Forgotten’

Could our behaviour be turned into a password?

Google will take requests to scrub embarrassing search results. But it won’t help U.S. users.

Yoder: Agencies seizing emails is ‘much worse’ than NSA spying 

59% of U.S. Internet Users Know Smart Devices Can Collect Information About Their Personal Activities

June 4, 2014

Banned Books Week 2014 celebrates graphic novels

The American Library Association (ALA), with the national Banned Books Week planning committee, today announced that this year’s celebration of the freedom to read will emphasize a thematic focus on comics and graphic novels.   This year’s Banned Books Week, Sept. 21 – 27, will shine a light on this still misunderstood form of storytelling and will celebrate the value of graphic novels to readers from all walks of life through the work performed by Banned Books Week sponsors and individual librarians, retailers and readers from all over the world.

“This year we spotlight graphic novels because, despite their serious literary merit and popularity as a genre, they are often subject to censorship,” said Judith Platt, chair of the Banned Books Week National Committee.

Recently, the acclaimed memoir “Fun Home” by Alison Bechdel, has been the flashpoint in a university funding controversy in South Carolina, while last year “Persepolis,” by Marjane Satrapi, faced an attempted ban in the Chicago Public Schools.  Graphic novels continually show up on the American Library Association’s (ALA)  Top 10 list of Frequently Challenged Books.  The ALA released its current list in April and includes Dav Pilkey’s “Captain Underpants” at the top spot and Jeff Smith’s series “Bone” arriving at #10.

“Once again the ALA is delighted to be part of a coalition to make the public aware that books are still being banned and challenged around the country,” said ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom Director Barbara Jones. “Banned Books Week will serve as an opportunity for libraries, authors, booksellers, publishers, educators, and many other stakeholders to continue their efforts to safeguard the freedom to read.”

Banned Books Week celebrates the Freedom to Read by encouraging readouts, displays, and community activities designed to raise awareness of the ongoing threats of censorship that continue to occur.  Bannedbooksweek.org is a hub for information about how individuals and institutions can become involved in celebrating this important event.  The website also includes resources and activities provided by event sponsors.

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Freedom to Read Foundation, National Association of College Stores, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, PEN American Center, and Project Censored.

To learn more about Banned Books Week, or how you can get involved, please visit www.ala.org/bbooks orwww.bannedbooksweek.org.

June 3, 2014

Zoia Horn and Dorothy Broderick on “The Speaker”

Continuing our look at the 1977 film The Speaker and the controversy surrounding it, we call your attention to opinions from two key players: Dorothy Broderick and Zoia Horn.  The two women, both fierce and celebrated defenders of “intellectual freedom” as a concept, had remarkably disparate views on the film, its message, and its utility.

Broderick, the legendary librarian, educator, and co-founder of VOYA Magazine, wrote a memorable opinion piece, “Son of Speaker,” for the October 1977 American Libraries.  The article provides good background on some of the issues that helped create the context for the controversy around the film, and an explanation for her advocacy in favor of it. A key quote from her:

We cannot, as an Association devoted to the dissemination of all ideas, be so unsophisticated as to equate defending a racist’s right to speak with being a racist.  It is the right to be heard that is all important, and not the quality of the ideas.  We cannot allow ourselves to lose sight of the fact that suppression of one unpopular opinion opens the door to suppression of all unpopular opinions. Nor can we afford to forget that every major improvement in society—including the civil rights movement—began as an unpopular minority opinion.  Most of all, out of total self-interest, we should remember that each voice silenced contributes to the possibility of our own voices being silenced.

AL printed this along with eight other compelling letters under the heading “Other Voices, Other Views.”  Thanks to the ALA Library for posting these pages and to AL for permission to do so.

On the other side: Zoia Horn, 1977-1978 Intellectual Freedom Committee chair (whom Judith Krug once referred to as “the first librarian who spent time in jail for a value of our profession”).  Zoia’s daughter, Catherine Marrion, wrote to ALA upon hearing of “Speaking about The Speaker” and asked that we bring attention to her mother’s account of the matter, as recorded in her 1995 autobiography, Zoia!  Ms. Marrion agreed to let us quote her email:

My mother is 96 years old and in failing health so will not be able to attend, but she would be happy for you to … link to her book on openlibrary.org and specifically to the chapter titled “Intellectual Freedom Committee (pages 199 -224), which deals almost exclusively with the making of “The Speaker” and the subsequent fallout. …

Zoia was a new member of the Intellectual Freedom Committee in 1976 and she describes with considerable dismay the lack of consultation in the creation of the film. Her account of this event sources committee minutes, meeting notes, correspondence and recollection of conversations with committee members and others.

My mother’s career was devoted in large measure to issues of intellectual freedom and the right to know. In 1970 she went to jail rather than compromise these principles. The California Library Association has an annual Intellectual Freedom Award in her honour, and she has many other awards. Zoia’s opposition to “The Speaker” and to the undemocratic and non-consultative way in which it was produced is a piece of my mother’s history, but of course it is a part of American library history…

We strongly encourage you to check out both of these great women’s perspectives, and to add your own in the blog comments or elsewhere.

For the full rundown of available resources on The Speaker, see the ALA Library pathfinder.

May 30, 2014

Barbara Jones article on “The Speaker” program

American Libraries magazine blog The Scoop has uploaded the article penned by OIF Executive Director Barbara Jones announcing the conference program on The Speaker.

I was a student at Columbia University’s School of Library Service at the time, and my professors advocated on both sides of the issue. …  Recently, I was warned by members who attended that meeting not to bring up the controversy ever again. But some participants and a new generation of librarians want to revisit the film, and they have agreed to discuss it at the 2014 ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition in Las Vegas.

Due to publishing deadlines, the article was written prior to the program’s announcement and ensuing discussion. Still, it’s relevant to the conversation and worth a read.

It also has been added to the “Contemporary Coverage” section of the ALA Library’s pathfinder.

May 28, 2014

Resources for “The Speaker” program

The ALA Library has very helpfully put together a pathfinder of resources relevant to the ongoing discussion around “Speaking About ‘The Speaker,’” the upcoming IFC/AAP program at ALA Annual Conference.

Included in the pathfinder: the link to the film and the accompanying discussion guide, a film chronology, a bibliography of articles about the film and the controversy surrounding it, uploads of several historical American Libraries magazine articles (reprinted with permission of AL magazine), and links to recent articles about the upcoming program.

A key document is the full 1978 statement from 25 ALA members, endorsed by the Black Caucus of the ALA, presented at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in opposition to the film and ALA’s sponsorship of it.

This pathfinder is a work in progress: if you have other articles or links you would like included in the finders guide, please contact Valerie Hawkins at library@ala.org.

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