Intellectual Freedom & Privacy at LibLearnX 2024

Intellectual Freedom Issues, Intellectual Freedom Round Table, LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund, LGBTQIA+, Midwinter Meeting/Annual Conference, Policies, Privacy, Programming

Join the Office for Intellectual Freedom and library workers from around the country this weekend for LibLearnX 2024! Keep reading for a rundown of intellectual freedom and privacy programs at LibLearn X, which takes place in Baltimore, Maryland, January 19-22, 2024.

OIF Programs

Fighting Censorship in a Changing Landscape
Saturday, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. • Baltimore Convention Center 337-338

For decades, ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom has tracked censorship in libraries and schools, which reached an unprecedented all-time high of nearly 1,300 challenge reports in 2022. Challenges are no longer a rare attempt by a single individual to remove a single book. OIF Director Deborah Caldwell-Stone and OIF Assistant Director Eric Stroshane will examine the state of censorship in libraries, including multi-faceted attempts from organized groups using elections (on all levels), mass challenges to school and public library materials, subversion of formal reconsideration processes, and legislation to stifle content and prevent librarians from upholding their policies and doing their jobs. Attendees will be provided with strategies and tools for addressing the most current wave of challenges in our schools and public libraries.

Advocacy Remixed: ALA Groups and Members Collaborate to Support Librarians and the Communities They Serve
Sunday, 10:00 – 11:00am • Baltimore Convention Center 337-338

Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) staff and general counsel, Unite Against Book Bans (UABB) staff and members, and American Library Association (ALA) member leaders from the ALA Policy Corp have pivoted to address multi-faceted attempts to stifle First Amendment protected content and prevent librarians from upholding their policies and doing their jobs. These groups help community members advocate, meet with policy makers and the press to bring about better legislation and stifle censorship, and focus on litigation when needed. This session is an opportunity to learn about these groups and the work they are doing, and discover ways to partner with them to identify new ways to fight censorship attempts in our schools and libraries. The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) partners with these groups already, and by learning more about the programs and resources they offer, you can too.

Be Prepared: Program Challenges at Your Public Library
Sunday, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. • Baltimore Convention Center 337-338

Do you have the right policies and procedures in place to handle a challenge to a program at your library? Sukrit Goswami, director of Haverford Township (Pa.) Free Library and president of the Freedom to Read Foundation, and Amanda Sand Vazquez, director of Dubuque County (Iowa) Library District and president of the Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT), will share their personal experiences with program challenges. They will be joined by Betsy Gomez, assistant director of communications and public outreach in ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, who will discuss how to leverage community relationships to prepare for and respond to program challenges.

Other Programs

How to Navigate Privacy Issues Involving Youth and Technology
Saturday, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. • Baltimore Convention Center 331-332

Children and teens may come to your library to play games on a library X-box, do homework on a school-issued Chromebook, or record TikToks on their smartphone. How do you navigate the privacy issues that inevitably arise when child and teen patrons engage with technology? This interactive accelerator session walks participants through a privacy literacy toolkit designed to help librarians navigate privacy issues and model for children and teens what it means to engage with technology in socially appropriate ways. Through a series of group activities and reflective discussions, participants will apply a theory-based privacy literacy framework to real-world scenarios and use their analysis to map out steps to address privacy issues in their own institutions. The session materials are designed such that participants can take them back and facilitate similar sessions with their colleagues. This accelerator is intended for librarians who primarily work with children/teens, including youth services and school librarians, although staff and administrators who are involved in policy development and interested in how library policies and practices affect youth privacy are also encouraged to attend.

Upholding Trans Patron Privacy & Information Access
Sunday, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. • Baltimore Convention Center 318-319

Laws targeting the trans community have exploded in the last several years alongside increased censorship in libraries, impacting these institutions, library workers, and their patrons. Protecting the privacy of trans patrons and the freedom for all to access trans information is crucial in countering these challenges. Drawing from the expertise of the Intellectual Freedom Committee’s Privacy Subcommittee and the Rainbow Roundtable, this session will empower you and your institution to be more effective library workers and allies. This presentation will include small group brainstorming, innovative anti-surveillance programming and service ideas, and relevant example scenarios to get attendees discussing and networking.

Facilitating Campuswide DEIA-Informed Conversations about the Banning of Books
Sunday, 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. • Baltimore Convention Center 337-338

Learn about the approaches and methods that a group of community college librarians are using to engage faculty, staff, and students in conversations about the ways in which book banning efforts work to suppress diverse voices and ideas. Discuss ways to explore, with cross-campus participants and from a range of cultural perspectives: the motivations for book challenges; the intellectual freedom and censorship issues around the banning of books; the disparate effects book challenges have on people who face oppression; and the educational value of books that present viewpoints from people who endure marginalization and who may use controversial language, ideas, images, and the like to express themselves. Get insight into the intentions and experiences of librarians who are organizing and leading these conversations, which vary widely in scope, where some focus on a single writer or on a particular title that’s often challenged, while others focus on a specific movement to ban books or on challenged materials within a specific genre of writing. Work with colleagues to brainstorm possible topics and resources for future banned books conversations that continue to center underrecognized voices and that might be facilitated by librarians in a variety of higher education contexts.

Promoting the Merritt Fund: Strategies and Resources
Sunday, 2:10 – 2:30 p.m. • ShopTalk Area B (LLX Marketplace, Level 100)

This ShopTalk will introduce conference attendees the Merritt Fund Promotional Toolkit, a resource developed by the Intellectual Freedom Round Table. As the name implies, the toolkit contains everything from testimonials to example media posts, all in an effort to better spread the word about the Merritt Fund, a trust devoted to the support, maintenance, medical care, and welfare of librarians who have been 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.

Not Too Young: Intellectual Freedom Programming for Children and Families
Sunday 2:45 – 3:45 p.m. • Baltimore Convention Center 337-338

How can librarians help children and families become advocates for the freedom to read? This session will cover practical program ideas, plans for promoting them, and possibilities for partnerships. Participants will also form small groups to discuss how to turn conversations about censorship into opportunities for advocacy.


LibLearnX is where library professionals at all levels can take part in a conference experience that will provide ultimate learning benefits. Attendees will participate in hands-on workshops, bite-size sessions, and other formats designed to match preferred learning styles with an emphasis on experiential learning. Be inspired and motivated by thought-leaders, authors, and subject matter experts, and celebrate your colleagues and favorite authors at the Award ceremonies. Learn more at https://2024.alaliblearnx.org/

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