Explore Intellectual Freedom in these #ALAAC21 Sessions!

Committee on Professional Ethics (COPE), Intellectual Freedom Committee, Intellectual Freedom Round Table, Midwinter Meeting/Annual Conference, Office for Intellectual Freedom, Professional Development, Professional Ethics
ALA Annual Conference 2021 logo.

The ALA Annual Conference offers numerous opportunities to explore and celebrate intellectual freedom. As you plan your #ALAAC21 calendar, consider adding these sessions to your schedule –

Live Sessions

Thursday, June 24th

3:30-4:30pm central: Intellectual Freedom Is Meaningless Without Social Justice. This talk will summarize the current “neutrality” debate in libraries, reflect on how these trends are at work in broader society, and then imagine what intellectual freedom looks like through a social justice lens. Join Alison Macrina of Library Freedom Project for a conversation about whose speech is actually being suppressed, how we can begin to reframe conversations about intellectual freedom to always include justice and power, and what steps librarians can take to reflect this view in our libraries. Continue the conversation from IFRT’s February 2021 webinar, Frosty Windows, Frosty Mirrors: Representation, Labeling, Discoverability, and the Chilling Effect

1-5pm central: Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) Business Meeting. The Freedom to Read Foundation meeting provides an opportunity for attendees to understand the scope of work being done by FTRF, as well as intellectual freedom related issues, changes, and cases that are happening throughout the country. Guests are welcome – register in advance!

Intellectual Freedom Awards

5-6pm central: Intellectual Freedom Awards Celebration. This event welcomes ALA President Julius C. Jefferson Jr. and featured keynote speaker Kyle Lukoff, author of the banned and challenged books “When Aidan Became a Brother” and “Call Me Max”, for a free virtual celebration to honor the recipients of the Roll of Honor Award, Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award, John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award, Gerald Hodges Intellectual Freedom Chapter Relations Award, and Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award. Awards are conferred by the ALA Intellectual Freedom Round Table, Freedom to Read Foundation, and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign iSchool

Friday, June 25th 

10-11am central: Challenges & Crises: Preparing Your Board of Trustees. Join David Paige, trustee at Conway (N.H.) Public Library, and a panel of experts to learn how to be proactive in developing a well-prepared board, and what best practices, policies, and procedures need to be developed or revisited. Considerations for policies to address intellectual freedom issues will be explored!

Freedom of the Press, Assembly, and Speech session logo.

1-2pm central: Freedom of the Press, Assembly, and Speech: First Amendment Issues Today. What can libraries and library staff do to support the protections granted by the First Amendment? Join speakers Deborah Caldwell-Stone, Director of the Office of Intellectual Freedom, Carrie DeCell, staff attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute of Columbia University, and Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America, with moderator Peter Coyl to review how libraries can engage their communities in conversation about the First Amendment rights of protestors and the media and what actions libraries can take to support these rights. This session is hosted by the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee.

Saturday, June 26th

10:30-11:30am central: Committee on Professional Ethics (COPE) Meeting. Meeting of the ALA’s Committee on Professional Ethics. Guests are welcome – register in advance! 

Problematic Titles and You session logo.

2:45-3:45pm central: IFRT Chair’s Program – Problematic Titles and You: Inclusive Collections, Hot Topics, and Intellectual Freedom. Join speakers Caryl Ward of Binghamton University Libraries, Kelsey E. Bogan of Great Valley High School, and Crystal Chen of New York Public Library in a conversation moderated by Jennifer E. Steele about how to address problematic titles in your library with diversity audits and other tools.

4-5pm central: Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) Meeting I. The charge of the IFC is to recommend policies for libraries and librarians, in accordance with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Library Bill of Rights as adopted by ALA Council. Guests are welcome – register in advance!

Monday, June 28th

10-11am central: Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) Meeting. A meeting of the officers and directors-at-large of the Intellectual Freedom Round Table. The IFRT board provides oversight of round table business and planning, carries out the formal decisions of membership, approves the annual round table budget, makes recommendations and reports to membership. All are welcome – register in advance!

5:30-6:30 central: Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) Meeting II. The charge of the IFC is to recommend policies for libraries and librarians, in accordance with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Library Bill of Rights as adopted by ALA Council. Guests are welcome – register in advance!

On Demand

2020 Censorship by the Numbers session logo

2020 Censorship by the Numbers. Join the Office for Intellectual Freedom’s own Kristin Pekoll to review the trends, statistics, and stories of library resource bans and challenges from the last year, and learn how library workers can advocate for and defend challenged resources. Find out what support is available and how to know when a challenge should be reported. 

Can I Wear or Say That? Intellectual Freedom in the Workplace. This session, hosted by the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee, will discuss the ability of library workers to express their political beliefs and personal identity on the job through their dress and speech. Speakers, including Theresa Chmara from the Freedom to Read Foundation, Douglas S. Zucker from Weiner Law Group LLP, and Sarah Houghton from California Digital Library join moderator Peter Coyl to explore: 

  • What free speech rights do library workers have in the workplace and what restrictions can employers impose? 
  • What if the restrictions seem focused on your culture or religious belief? 
  • What about speech made on your own free time or on your personal social media? 
  • What are the legal issues around pro-unionizing speech? Or sharing concerns about working conditions? 
  • Can your employer restrict what can be seen on video chats during the course of your work? 

This session will also review legal restrictions imposed by federal and state law Hatch Acts as well as the use of tax funds to underwrite political speech.

Privacy Field Guides: Take Action on Privacy in Your Library. This session features Erin Berman, 2020 winner of the California State Library Association Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award, and Data & Society affiliate researcher Bonnie Tijerina discussing the IMLS and ALA co-sponsored Privacy Field Guides. Come to this session to learn more about how you can use these guides in your library, ask questions in a judgement free zone, and leave empowered to make privacy changes at your library!

Social Justice Requires Broadband Access

Social Justice Requires Broadband Access. Cheptoo Kositany-Buckner, then Deputy Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Kansas City Public Library, described broadband access as “a 21st Century civil rights issue.” This program, sponsored by the Intellectual Freedom Committee, will examine the depth of the broadband access problem, its causes, and look at possible solutions, as well as the wider implications for society to whole groups of people left behind in technology and access to digital information and services. Lack of access to broadband poses intellectual freedom issues as it prevents full participation in civic endeavors, and limits access to vital government services, educational resources, and economic opportunities. Join speakers Marijke Visser, Erin Hollingsworth, and Angie Branyon for a conversation moderated by Eldon R. James about social justice challenges and solutions related to broadband access.    

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