If You Missed It: Intellectual Freedom and Privacy at ALA Midwinter

Intellectual Freedom Issues, Midwinter Meeting/Annual Conference, Online learning

The American Library Association Midwinter conference was held virtually, with most conference activity taking place from January 22-26th, 2021. 

Some Intellectual Freedom highlights included:

Practical Answers for Evolving Issues: Introducing the 10th Edition of the Intellectual Freedom Manual (On-Demand)

Midwinter screenshot

This session was available on-demand and facilitated by Martin Garnar, the Current Editor of the Intellectual Freedom Manual and Current Chair of the Intellectual Freedom Committee. 

Trina Magi, the Former Editor of the manual, discussed its contents:

  • Foundational documents for intellectual freedom principles
    • Library Bill of Rights (and interpretations)
    • Code of Ethics, etc.
  • Policy development guidelines and examples
  • Intellectual freedom issues and best practices

The manual, they said, included important privacy updates. Deborah Caldwell-Stone mentioned privacy checklists, which are readily available online (and not included in the manual). 

IFC Privacy Subcommittee

The key focus of this discussion was the Resolution on the Misuse of Behavioral Data Surveillance in Libraries, which was approved during the meeting.

PLA Legal Issues in Public Libraries Discussion Forum

This Q&A forum featured Tomas A. Lipinski, J.D., LL.M., M.L.I.S., Ph.D., Professor at the School of Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lipinski fielded questions about legal concerns for public libraries and a helpful zoom chat added to the dialogue. Participants shared resource documents, for example, about best practices for protecting children in virtual settings and liability waivers built into the registration process. Lipinski also addressed other questions such as:

  • “Can “that” group really be allowed to use our meeting room? 
  • We have received a list of books for which a number of patrons (there is a signed petition) want restricted access so that children cannot read or check out the books unless there is parental permission on file. Must we abide by their wishes? 
  • The library has a new crafting space, with glue guns, various cutting blades and other sharp objects. Can we have patrons sign some sort of release protecting the library in case someone gets injured? 
  • I am reviewing an agreement from a new online content provider. What does it mean when the agreement says the vendor waives all warranties including non-infringement and that the library will indemnify the vendor?

Freedom to Read Foundation Report to Council

Barbara Stripling provided an introduction to the Freedom to Read Foundation’s (FTRF) latest work on YouTube, and this year’s FTRF report is also available and worth reviewing.

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