During National Library Week, the Office for Intellectual Freedom publishes the list of Top Ten Most Challenged Books. We collect information from two sources: newspapers and reports submitted by individuals. All challenges are compiled into a database. Reports of challenges culled from newspapers across the country are compiled in the bimonthly Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom and compiled in the Banned Books Week Resource Guide. Challenges reported to the ALA by individuals are kept confidential. The Top Ten Most Challenged Books is not a national roundup of book challenges as all challenges are not reported to the ALA. Rather, it is a snapshot of the reports received by the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. Our goal is not to focus on the numbers, but to educate the masses that attempts to ban books is happening within our country, and the themes that are suggested by those challenges. As citizens, librarians, parents, we all should safeguard the right to read freely and to choose for ourselves and allow others to do the same.
After compiling the list of the 2015 Top Ten Challenged Books, the staff at the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) noticed that once again, a high percentage of the titles fell into the category of “diverse content.” What do we mean by diversity?
One of the consistently controversial subjects in many cultures is sexuality and youth. To many, it invokes some disgusting subjects that I do not wish to think about, none-the-less write about. But, for teens themselves it is an important subject that they require access to truthful and honest information about. Some governments and parents feel as uncomfortable as I do about discussing these things, or may reduce the access to honest sexual education information that teens have in some ignorant desire to “protect.”
The right to carry firearms publicly is a major concern for many people in the United States, with strong arguments on both sides. But, the discussion generally focuses upon Second Amendment rights of the gun owner and not on the reactions and mentality shifts of the communities with open/concealed carry laws.
It is too early to really see the depth and repercussions of the now named “Panama Papers,” but it may be as influential to global economics as Snowden’s leak was to Western privacy. The Panama Papers are records obtained from an anonymous source concerning the Mossack Fonsecas company, an international company management organization. The company appears to be violating sanctions, promoting tax evasion, and laundering money for politicians, criminals, and many, many other wealthy people and organizations.
Nerdfighters Unite! Author, John Green, has put out a call for action against censorship. On Friday, April 1st he alerted his huge fan base on social media to a challenge at Marion County High School in Kentucky.
Starting last November, Facebook began refining an artificial intelligence tool to analyze photos. As Mark Zuckerberg explained to an audience in Delhi, “If you are blind and you can’t see a photo, we can have our AI look at the photo and read an explanation of that photo to you.” And, as Zuckerberg pointed out, using machine interpreters instead of humans means that photos can be interpreted at any time, in any location, for anyone with visual limitations.
These days, Common Sense Media’s initiatives contain a less than subtle paternalism based on the conviction that its values should control children’s learning experiences. Early pronouncements like Core Belief #6 (“We believe that through informed decision making, we can improve the media landscape one decision at a time”) suddenly come across as a determination to reform that landscape in its own image.
March 23, 2016 – Intellectual Freedom News is a compilation of news delivered by the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom including current book challenges in libraries and schools and articles about privacy, internet filtering and censorship
“If you accept — and I do — that freedom of speech is important, then you are going to have to defend the indefensible. That means you are going to be defending the right of people to read, or to write, or to say, what you don’t say or like or want said.”–Neil Gaiman