Michael Kirby is an Assistant Professor/Reader Services Librarian at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, New York. He received his MLS from Queens College, the City University of New York and was a 2022 ALA Emerging Leader. He currently serves as a Director-at-Large for the Intellectual Freedom Round Table. He also oversees the Office of Intellectual Freedom’s blog and, in his spare time, loves to watch movies–old and new (Tár is a recent favorite!)
1. What made you want to be part of the IFRT?
What first attracted me to IFRT was really their stated mission. What kept me around, however, was just how willing everyone was to involve me (someone who basically had zero experience in anything ALA) in the decision-making process from the start. Anyone familiar with large organizations knows that it sometimes takes months (years) to hear back about committee appointments. Many thanks to Kristin Pekoll as well; she was the one who originally conscripted me (not by force)!
2. What is your favorite part about being in IFRT?
I would have to say my favorite thing (going off my answer to the first question) is really the community that IFRT has fostered. We have a great group of people with diverse and often diverging opinions about a whole host of things, but we always engage in respectful debates and often end (as it should be, I think) in a place where everyone is happy.
3. How do you keep up-to-date with IFRT happenings and concerns?
I work on the Publications and Communications subcommittee, so I feel as if I’m “tuned in” more than most, but nothing beats the IFRT Twitter for all of your intellectual freedom needs! Sarah (Hartman-Caverly) has built a really great team across a bunch of different social media platforms, but the Twitter presence really does offer the most concise list of upcoming activities. For a more “academic” viewpoint on intellectual freedom issues, I always recommend the Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy and the OIF Blog.
4. If you could meet your favorite banned book character, who would you meet and why?
Can I meet a banned author? I think it would be Maurice Sendak (author of Where the Wild Things Are). I recently read a great history of Fire Island, which barely mentions Sendak, but it did send me on a bit of a deep dive into his life. I didn’t even know one of the most influential children’s authors was gay (and I used to be a children’s librarian!).
The Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) provides a forum for the discussion of activities, programs and problems in intellectual freedom of libraries and librarians; serves as a channel of communications on intellectual freedom matters; promotes a greater opportunity for involvement among the members of the ALA in defense of intellectual freedom; promotes a greater feeling of responsibility in the implementation of ALA policies on intellectual freedom.