IF Issue: Book Labeling, plus how to get involved in IF activities

Midwinter Meeting/Annual Conference

Conable Scholarship recipient Aubrey Madler will be blogging her thoughts about the ALA Annual Conference throughout the week.  This is the second installment.

Wow, where do I begin?

This was day one of ALA Annual 2010 and I played a bit of ping pong trying to catch at least portions of the various IF-related sessions and meetings that overlapped. The discussion during the Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) meeting on placing labels on books brought me back to my undergraduate courses in elementary education. One key theory there was not to label students–be it by a disability, academic capacity, socioeconomic status, etc. Looking at Common Sense Media’s grid (used for online book purchases) to label books by their content–granted books are not people, neither do they have feelings–I couldn’t resist the sense of deja vu. This form of labeling can be seen as a strict form of censorship by authoritative entities, thus affecting the book’s success- much like labeling students can affect their success. One alternative might be to rely on user reviews through sites such as storysnoops.com. The IFC is in the process of exploring the pros and cons of using this grid system to label books and discussing ways that librarians can use it effectively or offer additional sources of selection tools. Will this labeling system prevent minors from accessing information on various ideas and learning about their world? I don’t have the answer to that.

I also appreciated sitting in on the IFC’s discussion of a new document they are in the process of drafting. The tentative title is Prisoners’ Right to Read and it will serve as an interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights. It was intriguing to see this complex editing process take place as they work to disambiguate terminology and phrasing so that the document best represents their intent.

The final event for today was IF 101 which featured a panel of speakers on various entities involved in intellectual freedom. There, Jonathan Kelley offered a top ten list of things you can do to learn about and spread information on intellectual freedom:

  1. Join ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Round Table
  2. Celebrate Banned Books Week (last Week in September, host local read-outs, etc.)
  3. Subscribe to the ifaction listserv
  4. Follow OIF on Twitter: twitter.com/oif
  5. Have the Library Bill of Rights tattooed on your back  😉
  6. Attend an IF session at ALA Conference http://annual.ala.org/2010/index.php?title=Intellectual_Freedom_Programs
  7. Watch the 20-minute “Choose Privacy Week” video at http://vimeo.com/11399383
  8. “Like” various Facebook groups: Merritt Fund, Freedom To Read Foundation, Choose Privacy Week, Banned Books Week
  9. Buy jewelry from Carolyn Forsman at ALA exhibit booth #2535-proceeds go to the Freedom To Read Foundation
  10. Talk about it!

You might also read the Intellectual Freedom Manual, 8th ed. (or have on hand in your library) and the OIF Blog (RSS feeds available), or join your state library association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.