IRFT Member Spotlight – Maya Bergamasco 

Advocacy, Banned and Challenged Books, IFRT Member Spotlight

Maya Bergamasco (she/her) is the Faculty Research and Scholarly Support Librarian at Harvard Law School Library. She holds a B.A. in English literature, with a concentration in creative writing. She received her MLIS with a concentration in user instruction from Simmons University, where she was an American Library Association (ALA) Spectrum Scholar. Maya currently serves on the IFRT Publications and Communications Committee. She was a 2023 ALA Emerging Leader sponsored by the Intellectual Freedom Round Table, where she worked  on the Finding Silent Censorship Project to collect data on censorship in libraries across America. Maya’s research interests include critical data studies and community outreach and engagement.

Maya Bergamasco

1.  What made you want to be part of the ALA Emerging Leaders Program?

As an early career librarian, I applied to the Emerging Leaders program because it offered an opportunity to forge professional connections and discover potential career paths as a future library leader. There are so many ways to build a career in libraries, and I’ve found that following the path of library workers I admire is helpful when considering and setting career goals.

2.  What is your favorite part about being an Emerging Leader?

The program is a chance to learn from so many talented and passionate library workers, and it’s been a privilege to learn from them! I value the innovation that comes from working collaboratively, and I think our group has brought a wide range of skills, experience, and subject expertise that has made that collaborative work especially exciting! 

3.  What OIF/ IFRT program did you attend at ALA Annual 2023?

I attended the session with Deborah Caldwell-Stone and Theresa Chmara, “News You Can Use—Books Under Fire: Law and the Right to Read, 2023.” As a law librarian, I’m interested in discussions on how the law can protect intellectual freedom and other library services, and areas where the law has failed to protect library users’ right to information. Deborah and Theresa gave an excellent overview of the case law that has informed the current legal framework for “appropriateness” in school library books. I walked away from the session simultaneously feeling well-prepared to share more about law and censorship with both my colleagues at the law library and my friends outside libraries, and concerned about the outlook for future legislation and what it would mean for libraries and readers, despite precedent. 

4.  If you could meet a character from your favorite banned book, who would you meet and why?

I would like to meet Pudge from Looking for Alaska by John Green. I first read the book in high school when I was, similar to Pudge, going through a lot of thoughts on death, dying, and the grieving process. While they are very difficult topics, they are made easier to contemplate by reflecting with other people, and I think we would have an interesting and enlightening conversation! 

Composed by the Intellectual Freedom Round Table Publications and Communications Committee. Follow us on Twitter @IFRT_ALA.

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