Are you attending the American Library Association’s Annual Conference & Exhibition this year in Washington D.C.? It is a great place for a conference! Fun fact, the last time Annual was held in-person was also in D.C back in 2019. It was a different time. Back then, REFORMA was protesting the conditions for children at the migrant detention centers outside the White House. This year we come together as a profession united against book bans after 2021 saw record levels of challenges. Keep reading for the intellectual freedom & censorship highlights at this year’s Annual.
Banned Books Take Over DC
The Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) has created an interactive activity to bring awareness around banned books during the 2022 ALA annual conference. Attendees are encouraged to take printouts of banned books out in Washington D.C.; take pictures; and share on social media. #BannedBooksDC.
There will be a few hundred book covers at the ALA membership lounge and there’s a Canva template if you want to create your own. More information coming soon.
A lot of folks tend to arrive in D.C. late Thursday or early Friday. The first major event of the conference takes place on Friday evening, which lets you check in to your hotel, get situated, and maybe even take a lap of the exhibit hall (open from 5:30-7pm).
Friday, June 24th, 2022 from 7-8:30pm at the Marriott Marquis, Univ of DC & Catholic Univ
Join the ALA Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) and the Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) along with library professionals, authors, and friends for this 2022 Intellectual Freedom awards celebration and reception. The organizations will honor the recipients of the FTRF Roll of Honor Award, John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award, Gerald Hodges Intellectual Freedom Chapter Relations Award, and Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award.
Friday is nice and easy. Saturday is when the marathon begins. Don’t forget snacks, a refillable water bottle, walking shoes, and a backpack. It has been a long time but do not forget these conference essentials. There are half hour breaks between sessions but once things get going on Saturday, they do not stop.
Saturday, June 25th, 2022 from 2:30-3:30pm at the Washington Convention Center, 146A
The library profession has recently experienced a significant increase in challenges to library materials, program, displays, reading lists and curriculum that address racial injustice, Black history, and diversity education. A prime example is the 2020 Top Ten Banned Books List, which includes titles such as Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This session will discuss the increasingly important role that Critical Race Theory has played in recent library challenges, as well as in censorship legislation. Attendees will gain an understanding of what Critical Race Theory actually is and how it is being co-opted by different groups as a means to ban books, materials, and programs that address the history of systemic racism in America. Also, experts from the Office of Intellectual Freedom will discuss the current ongoing challenges and legislation and how library workers can respond to these threats to intellectual freedom. This program is co-sponsored by ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC), the IFC Privacy Subcommittee, the Committee on Professional Ethics (COPE), the Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT), and the Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF).
Saturday, June 25th, 2022 from 4-5pm in 151B
During National Library Week 2022, ALA launched Unite Against Banned Books, a national grassroots campaign to protect the freedom to read. Since that time, the campaign has built visibility and support far beyond the library ecosystem. Learn the latest campaign news, find out how you can bring this campaign to your community, and hear what’s coming next in this multi-year effort.
Saturday, June 25th, 2022 from 5:30-7pm in the Courtyard Marriott, Shaw Ballroom
Downs Intellectual Freedom Award Reception – Co-Sponsored by the University of Illinois iSchool and Sage Publishing. All Supporters of Intellectual Freedom are welcome to attend. Please come to support the 2021-22 Award Recipients.
Once you have recovered from your conference Saturday, there is a little bit of intellectual freedom stuff happening on Sunday too. However, the Smithsonian museums and the Library of Congress will be calling your name at some point during this conference and I completely understand.
Sunday, June 26th, 2022 from 9-10am in 151B
Across the country there has been an overwhelming increase in the number of books challenged and banned in schools and libraries, often based on a claim that the books are obscene or “harmful to minors.” In some communities, libraries and library workers have even faced criminal complaints for providing young people access to diverse books addressing racism, gender, and the experiences of BIPOC and LGBTQIA persons. But are these claims accurate? This program will explore the current case law addressing obscenity, constitutionally protected speech, and minors’ rights to receive information. There will also be another opportunity to learn how you can minimize your library’s exposure to litigation if an individual claims a right to film inside the library. There will be time set aside for questions about these topics and any other questions concerning intellectual freedom, libraries, and the law.
It is common for the conference to begin to thin out by Monday but there are two very important programs happening throughout the day. The first is a live and in-person event about a topic I recently blogged about – the brand new Privacy Field Guides!
Monday, June 27th, 2022 from 10:30-11:30am at the Washington Convention Center, 150B
Privacy is a core value of librarianship, yet it often feels like an overwhelming and onerous undertaking. With a deluge of information telling library workers why privacy is important and what the issues are, there has until now been a lack of practical how-to guides for making concrete privacy changes in the library. The Institute of Museum and Library Services, in partnership with the American Library Association, has sponsored the creation of Privacy Field Guides. These Field Guides will replace the current Privacy Tool Kit on the ALA website. Come to this interactive session to learn more about how you can use these guides in your library, discuss privacy concerns and ask questions in a judgment free zone, and leave empowered to make privacy changes at your library!
Monday, June 27th, 2022 from 2:30-3:30pm in 151B
Over the last year, the Working Group on Intellectual Freedom and Social Justice has been exploring alternatives to neutrality rhetoric. In this session, you will have the opportunity to learn about three frameworks that can be used to inform how we work with our communities: radical empathy, trauma-informed response, and cultural humility. This will also be another chance for dialogue about these topics before the Working Group submits its report to the ALA Executive Board. Please join us as we consider these ways to help us build and strengthen trust with our users.
And that is a wrap for intellectual freedom & censorship highlights at Annual. Since it is D.C., candid First Amendment issues tend to pop up – like when there was a protest at the CIA recruitment booth in 2019 (what a year it was!). Be sure to take a photo and use the #ALAAC22 to share with the rest of the class. Especially for those of us stuck at home; we want to see the best and brightest of LIS kick butt in our nation’s capital!
Holly Eberle is the Teen Programming and Outreach Librarian at the Algonquin Area Public Library District in Illinois. She received her MLIS from the University of Illinois in December 2015. In addition to intellectual freedom, she is also passionate about the opioid epidemic and getting Narcan inside every public library.