Intellectual Freedom at PLA 2024 Conference

PLA, Unite Against Book Bans

Join thousands of public library workers, supporters, and vendors from across the country and around the world to celebrate all things public libraries at the Public Library Association (PLA) 2024 Conference, April 3–5, in the vibrant city of Columbus, Ohio!

The PLA Conference is an unparalleled opportunity for library workers to come together to share new ideas, discuss key public library issues, and hear from innovative speakers who are shaping the future of public libraries. PLA 2024 offers more than 100 education programs that represent a diverse range of experiences, perspectives, and communities from across the country. The OIF Team will be there to meet and talk with members at the Unite Against Book Bans booth on the exhibit floor and will be participating in the many programs offering opportunities to learn more about practicing – and supporting!- intellectual freedom in libraries.

Here are the intellectual freedom opportunities and programs during the PLA Conference in Columbus:

Advocacy and Intellectual Freedom Consultations

April 4, 2024 • 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM ET • Exhibit Hall, Career Center

Sign up for a 20-minute appointment with staff from ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, the Association of Small and Rural Libraries, and advocacy experts. Consultants will be available for confidential support and guidance in responding to materials and service challenges, implementing intellectual freedom best practices, or more general advocacy for your library. Advance registration is required and space is limited.

Sign up here

Programs and Workshops

In the Driver’s Seat: Proactively Protecting Your Library and Staff in Challenging Times

April 2, 2024 • 2:00 PM-5:00 PM ET • GCCC C170-172

From book bans to bomb threats to defunding efforts, library leaders are experiencing challenges to collections, services, and staff. To help you prepare for current and emerging challenges facing library staff, this workshop will share and explore effective policies, procedures, and practices, and offer practical advice any library can implement. Expert presenters will address how to audit and add protective library policies, find impactful allies and sustain relationships, effectively advocate and communicate with key stakeholders, and care for yourself and staff no matter what issues arise. This workshop will connect you with knowledgeable colleagues and leave with a concrete plan and supportive resources.

Each workshop requires a separate registration.

At the end of this workshop, attendees will…

  • Increase overall awareness and knowledge of proactive, protective library policies and how to implement efficiently;
  • Gain skills and resources for identifying, sustaining, and leveraging stakeholder relationships to advocate for their library; and
  • Improve their ability to plan for and implement effective, affirmative communications.

Challenging Times: Unite Against Book Bans and ALA’s Policy Corp

April 3, 2024 • 2:00 PM-3:00 PM ET • GCCC A210-215
Panel Presentation

ALA’s Policy Corps is actively working to spread unified messages supporting the Office for Intellectual Freedom and librarians in their efforts against book bans. This includes effective public messaging, advocacy, resources and tactics for successful interactions with would be censors. Kent Oliver, Senior Fellow for ALA’s Public Policy and Advocacy Office, will facilitate a timely discussion with a panel of Policy Corp members who are working to change the narrative around book banning as part of the Unite Against Book Bans campaign. They will explain what they are seeing and doing that make

Unbannable: How Libraries Are Ensuring Access to Banned Books

April 4, 2024 • 10:15 AM-11:15 AM ET • GCCC Short North AB
Panel Presentation

With book banning on the rise nationwide and intellectual freedom under attack, find out how library-driven projects, Brooklyn Public Library’s Books Unbanned, Chicago Public Library’s Book Sanctuary, the Digital Public Library of America’s Banned Book Club, and the New York Public Library’s work are pushing back against book banning and protecting critical access to knowledge for all. Get an overview of how each project works and find out how your library can defend intellectual freedom.

Cornerstones in a Culture War: The Role of Urban Libraries in Defending Democracy

April 4, 2024 • 11:30 AM-12:30 PM ET • GCCC A120-125
Panel Presentation

Responding to threats to First Amendment rights, particularly related to the codification of censorship, the Urban Libraries Council (ULC) issued a Declaration of Democracy and formed an Advisory Group that has developed a Leadership Brief, FAQs, toolkit, and training series to provide a baseline for building policies and actions that protect democracy in our communities. Attendees will hear directly from those leading the work who will answer what they’ve learned through the process.

Pivoting to Meet New Censorship Tactics

April 5, 2024 • 10:15 AM-11:15 AM ET • GCCC A110-115
Panel Presentation

In addition to the rise in challenges, library workers are seeing multi-faceted attempts from organized groups through elections, Freedom of Information Act requests, direct challenges to public library materials through the proper reconsideration process, attempts to subvert the formal process by applying pressure through public comments and social media, and through legislative attempts. In this session, ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) staff will discuss ways library workers throughout the country can address the most current wave of challenges in our public libraries.

Choose Your Own Adventure: Intellectual Freedom Edition

April 5, 2024 • 11:30 AM-12:30 PM ET • GCCC Union Station A
Panel Presentation

Attendees will collaboratively navigate their way through a multi-step, intellectual freedom-related scenarios, the outcome of which is contingent upon their choices at various points, akin to a Choose Your Own Adventure (™) story, including collaborative analysis by presenters and attendees as to why some decisions are better than others when considering their work in light of core values of librarianship.Play through the Dilemma of the Disapproving Dino Doctor and the Farce of the First Amendment Audit Influence to experience and examine a spectrum of potential responses to challenges.

In the Trenches: The Battle Against Censorship in Louisiana Libraries

April 5, 2024 • 11:30 AM-12:30 PM ET • GCCC B230-235
Panel Presentation

The war on Louisiana libraries started in Lafayette in 2017 when a local group embraced a mission to defund all public libraries in Louisiana. Now this group has spread across the state, infiltrating multiple parishes, and prompting several bills in the state legislature. Learn how this local crisis began and how some parishes have been fighting back, including what has worked and what hasn’t. Find out how you can prepare your library (and community) before it’s too late.

Make the Most of Banned Books Week and Intellectual Freedom Programming

April 5, 2024 • 11:30 AM-12:30 PM ET • Attendee Hub (Virtual)

Banned Books Week 2024 will mark its 42nd year. Banned Books Week coordinator Betsy Gomez will lead a discussion about the 2024 Banned Books Week theme and resources, ways you can use Banned Books Week to engage your community, and strategies for convincing even the most reluctant to participate in the annual event! For those who need to shift the focus or title of the event, Betsy can share strategies for messaging, displays, and event planning.

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