Intellectual Freedom & Privacy Events in our Nation’s Capitol

Committee on Professional Ethics (COPE), Freedom to Read Foundation, Intellectual Freedom Committee, Intellectual Freedom Round Table, Midwinter Meeting/Annual Conference, Office for Intellectual Freedom, Privacy, Professional Development

ALA Annual Conference 2019 Washington D.C.

ALA’s Annual Conference is in Washington D.C. this year, and the Office for Intellectual Freedom will be there staffing committee meetings, programs, and social events.

Committee meetings, social events and programs are open to any attendee (some require tickets) and are often a good way to learn about the business of ALA, its intellectual freedom initiatives, and meet others who are passionate about #intellectualfreedom. Check out the conference scheduler. And don’t forget to tweet #ALAAC19.


Intellectual Freedom 101
Friday, 6/21/19 @ 2:30-3:30 pm, Georgetown University Room (Pre-populated tweet)

At this one-hour, fast-paced session, you’ll learn about the intellectual freedom activities of ALA and affiliated organizations (such as the Intellectual Freedom Round Table and the Freedom to Read Foundation) and get all the details on upcoming programs and events. Intellectual freedom leaders will share how you can get involved in a community dedicated to protecting the First Amendment and patrons’ rights.

Pitfalls of neutrality
Saturday, 6/22/19 @ 9-10 am, WCC 146

Libraries are faced with the competing needs to protect the privacy of their users while at the same time analyzing the use of library collections and services. This panel session will cover the threats to library user privacy posed by data analytics and the practices and techniques that libraries can adopt to mitigate these threats, including access control, aggregation, and de-identification.

Sticky Selection ScenariosSticky Selection Scenarios: Using Policy to Answer Your Collection & Reconsideration Questions
Saturday, 6/22/19 @ 10:30-11:30 am , WCC 147 (Pre-populated tweet)

Toolkit author presenters will begin the session by highlighting important aspects of the toolkit for all types of libraries; however, the majority of the session time will be spent in small group discussions. To make the session relevant to attendees, the presenters from school, public, and academic libraries will lead guided group discussions based on scenarios of common and/or difficult selection and reconsideration issues that library workers face. The conversations will address specific intellectual freedom-related questions that session attendees bring to the discussion. Near the end of the session, each group will share key ideas and strategies from the discussion with all of the participants. Attendees will receive a print copy of the toolkit with specific policy language color-coded by type of library.

Telling Stories, Expanding Boundaries: Drag Queen Storytimes in Libraries
Saturday, 6/22/19 @ 1:00-2:30 pm, WCC147b (Pre-populated tweet)

This session will explore the public library as a site for the intersection of gender expression/identity and intellectual freedom, by discussing the phenomenon of Drag Queen Storytime (DGS). The session will consist of a panel featuring originators of the Drag Queen Storytime concept; librarians whose institutions have been involved in Drag Queen Storytime, with both the popularity and the controversy that have ensued; and a local drag queen storyteller who will read a story to the audience. The Drag Queen Storytime program has been immensely popular with many audiences at libraries across the country, but it has also produced its share of resistance and controversy. The panel will discuss how Drag Queen Storytime was developed and originally implemented, how librarians have been using it today, how institutions have dealt with specific successes and controversies, and how Drag Queen Storytime relates to intellectual freedom.

Library Confidentiality: Your Privacy is Our Business
Saturday, 6/22/19 @ 2:30-3:30 pm, WCC146C (Pre-populated tweet)

Participants in this program will learn about the policies, guidelines, ethics and laws behind the privacy and confidentiality standards that affect their libraries. Attendees will have several opportunities to share and explore cultural and policy approaches to privacy and confidentiality with their colleagues, while strategizing to resolve challenging patron privacy scenarios and policy concerns they may encounter at their own institutions.

When You Can’t Go Home Again: Refugee and Exile Authors in the U.S.
Saturday, 6/22/19 @ 4:00-5:00 pm (Pre-populated tweet)

Facing censorship, threats and uncertainty, refugee and exile authors travel to the U.S., where they confront a new set of obstacles. “When You Can’t Go Home Again” will explore the challenges authors experience in countries around the world, and issues that they encounter after moving to the States. These issues range from locating an interested publisher and depending on a translator, to resisting self-censorship and being aware of the ever-watchful presence of their home country. After taking an eye-opening exploration into the realm of international writings and translations, attendees will gain insight into how they can welcome these authors on their shelves and in their libraries.

Censorship Beyond Books
Sunday, 6/23/19 @ 10:30-11:30 am, WCC 158A-B (Pre-populated tweet)

Just as books can be censored, displays, programs and other non-book resources and services come under fire. While the profession is well-versed in protecting the right to read books, many libraries lack policies and experience in protecting the right to access information and services beyond books, often in the form of content created by their staff. During this hour, three librarians will share their experience of challenges to non-book resources.

The session will be moderated by Kristin Pekoll, author of the book, Beyond Banned Books: Defending Intellectual Freedom throughout Your Library and assistant director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. ALA Editions will have copies available at the program and at the ALA Store.

Privacy By Design
Sunday, 6/23/19 @ 2:30-3:30 pm WCC 140B (Pre-populated tweet)

You will learn why privacy should be a critical design component for any of those areas of responsibility. When we see exciting technological advancements, such as machine learning, big data, online assistants, personalization, and chatbots; it can be tempting to deprioritize privacy, a core value of librarianship, in pursuit of implementing these types of tools and technologies. If you have a hand in designing, developing, and/or implementing programming, registration methods, data tracking methods, user experience research, or digital experiences (e.g. your organization’s website), you will take home some ideas for how to construct a plan of action that helps you incorporate privacy by design.

Minors Rights to Privacy in the LibraryAre You Going to Tell My Parents?: The Minor’s Right to Privacy in the Library
Sunday, 6/23/19 @ 4:00-5:00 pm, WCC 152A (Pre-populated tweet)

A panel of experts will summarize the laws and ethical statements applicable to minors’ privacy rights, and explore positive and proactive ways that libraries can protect minors’ privacy and confidentiality. Panelists will discuss state and federal laws impacting minors’ privacy, including the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Following this introduction to minors’ privacy, school and public librarians will each speak about different approaches, policies, and procedures they use to protect minors’ privacy. The panel will focus on ways to address the issues librarians face in crafting policy, procedures, and guidelines that preserve minors’ privacy.

Controversial Speaker Planned for Your Library Event? Things to Consider
Monday, 6/24/19 @ 9:00-10:00 am, WCC 140B (Pre-populated tweet)

Have a program planned or a speaker coming to your library that you feel might end up being a bit more contentious than you originally thought? Expecting your program to be controversial for some of the members of your community? Controversial speakers and programs can be a challenging part of library life. Hear from authors (Ellen Hopkins, Gayle Pitman), public relations experts, librarians who have faced this before, and IFC’s “Responding to and Preparing for Controversial Programs and Speakers Q&A” authors about questions and aspects you may want to consider before holding such an event. Participants will receive a handout with questions to consider when developing program policies, as well as a crisis communications template.

Minds Unlocked: Supporting Intellectual Freedom Behind Bars
Monday, 6/24/19 @ 2:30-3:30 pm, WCC144B-C

Come fill your toolkit with strategies to support intellectual freedom for those you serve with jail or prison outreach. Learn about the realities of correctional censorship, how to develop a policy to answer the toughest challenges, and how you can be a powerful and articulate advocate for your community.

In this workshop, public and correctional librarians will practice real, tested strategies and techniques to help them advocate for intellectual freedom in seriously unfree spaces. Jails and prisons don’t always have clear or consistent policies, so through this workshop staff will practice advocacy skills honed for an audience of skeptical wardens, sheriffs, and other correctional staff. They will see and discuss examples of real-life censorship decisions.

Intellectual Freedom Pop-Up Store

Intellectual Freedom Pop-Up Store

For the first time, the Office for Intellectual Freedom will host Intellectual Freedom Pop-Up Stores outside affiliated programs and meetings. Stock up on new Banned Books Week materials; find a favorite T-shirt in the $5 bargain bin; and peruse privacy must-haves. In the “Intellectual Freedom Calendar,” look for the program titles with asterisks. Sales support the Office for Intellectual Freedom’s work in defending the freedom to read and promoting Banned Books Week and Choose Privacy Week.

Stand for the Banned

At the Stand for the Banned booth, show your support for banned books and their authors in a variety of interactive ways.  Write authors a note, or snap a pic in the banned books photo booth. You’ll also be able to find resources to help you celebrate Banned Books Week in September, as well as a great Banned Books Week drawing. Hosted by SAGE Publishing and ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, the Stand for the Banned booth draws attention to the authors who create important works and offers readers creative ways to say “thanks.”

The booth is also looking for volunteers! Support the freedom to read (and receive a banned book-themed “thank you” gift) by lending a hand at the booth:

Open Saturday, June 22 and Sunday, June 23 between 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Located in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, near the Information Desk and Conference Registration.

Social Events

SAGE Publishing Reception at the Exhibit Hall Grand Opening
Friday, 6/21/19 @ 5:30-7:00 pm (Pre-populated tweet)

For every badge scanned on SAGE Publishing will donate funds to the Freedom to Read Foundation.

An Evening with the Capitol Steps (SOLD OUT)
Friday, 6/21/19 @ 7:30-9:30 pm

The Capitol Steps are an American political-satire group which has been performing since 1981. Most of the Capitol Steps’ material parodies well-known contemporary songs, usually introduced with a short skit. The songs are interspersed with other routines, including a spoonerism routine (“Lirty Dies”) near the end of each performance with innuendoes about recent scandals. This performance of “An Evening with the Capitol Steps” will take place at the Ronald Reagan Building (1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW). Tickets support IFRT projects such as awards to honor champions of intellectual freedom, authors, and exemplary chapters or organizations; sponsoring Emerging Leaders; networking and continuing education events; and promoting core professional values. (Facebook Event)

Intellectual Freedom Round Table Awards Recognition & Fundraising Breakfast
Saturday, 6/22/19 @ 7:30-9 am (Pre-populated tweet)

The 2019 Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) Awards Recognition and Fundraising Breakfast will recognize IFRT award-winners and also include an engaging discussion with Sanford Ungar, director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University. The $10 tickets to the breakfast will raise funds for IFRT awards, which recognize intellectual freedom heroes and contributions. Visit the Ticketed Events Information Page for further details. (Facebook Event)

Freedom to Read Foundation 50th Anniversary Celebration
Saturday, 6/22/19 @ 6:00-8:00 pm (Retweet)

New York Times bestselling author and intellectual freedom advocate Laurie Halse Anderson will join keynote speaker Colson Whitehead, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Underground Railroad,” on the stage at the 50th Anniversary celebration. The celebration will take place in the Renaissance Washington D.C.’s Grand Ballroom, 999 9th St NW, Washington, D.C. and will begin at 6 p.m. The event is open to the public, and appetizers and a cash bar will be available. Tickets are $25 and available for purchase on the FTRF website or through ALA conference registration.

Until June 1, support the FTRF kickstarter by purchasing your ticket through the crowdfunding platform and receive a commemorative book “Reading Dangerously” to celebrate its anniversary and highlight 50 years of advocacy, education, and litigation through essays, oral histories, images, and book excerpts. The book will feature a forward by author Neil Gaiman and an essay by former FTRF director James LaRue that looks forward to the foundation’s next 50 years. (Facebook Event)

FTRF 50th Celebration

Merritt Fund “Reception for a Cause”
Sunday, 6/23/19 @ 7:00-9:00 pm (Pre-populated tweet)

Hosted by ALA President Loida Garcia Febo and sponsored by the Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) with light refreshments and a cash bar. RSVPs are required to receive the suite location closer to the date of the reception. Donations are encouraged to support a special trust in memory of Dr. LeRoy C. Merritt. The fund is devoted to the support, maintenance, medical care, and welfare of librarians who, in the Trustees’ opinion, are:

  • Denied employment rights or discriminated against on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, color, creed, religion, age, disability, or place of national origin; or
  • Denied employment rights because of defense of intellectual freedom; that is, threatened with loss of employment or discharged because of their stand for the cause of intellectual freedom, including promotion of freedom of the press, freedom of speech, the freedom of librarians to select items for their collections from all the world’s written and recorded information, and defense of privacy rights.


Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC)
Friday, 6/21/19 @ 8:00-10:00 am
Friday, 6/21/19 @ 10:30-11:30 pm
Sunday, 6/23/19 @ 1:15-2:15 pm
Monday, 6/24/19 @ 12:30-2:30 pm

IFC Privacy Subcommittee
Sunday, 6/23/19 @ 8:30-10:00 am

Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT)
Saturday, 6/22/19 @ 3:00-5:00 pm

Committee on Professional Ethics (COPE or Ethics)
Monday, 6/24/19 @ 1:30-3:30 pm

Freedom to Read Foundation
Morning Session, Thursday, 6/20/19 @ 8:30-12 am
Afternoon Session, Thursday, 6/20/19 @ 2-4 pm

Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion

ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services (ODLOS) has provided guidance for conference attendees who may be interested in sessions targeting equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). Check the scheduler for more information.

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