New E-Course on the First Amendment and Library Services Begins March 4

First Amendment, Online learning

By: Deborah Caldwell-Stone, Interim Director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom

If you are a librarian, library worker, or library trustee who wants to improve your understanding of the application of the First Amendment to the provision of library services (or know someone who does!) a new e-course is available that offers the opportunity to learn about the legal principles and precedents that apply to such varied topics as book censorship, internet use, and meeting room policy.

Logo for "First Amendment and Library Services" ALA e-courseThe First Amendment and Library Services, brought to you by ALA Publishing eLearning Solutions and the Office for Intellectual Freedom, will introduce you to the legal principles behind the First Amendment, their practical implications in daily life, and how those principles affect library work. You will learn basic legal concepts, your rights as library employees, the rights of library patrons, and what the First Amendment does and does not obligate the library to provide.

The course will be taught by Theresa Chmara, an attorney in Washington, D.C. who is the General Counsel of the Freedom to Read Foundation.  She is the author of Privacy and Confidentiality Issues: A Guide for Libraries and their Lawyers (ALA 2009). She has been a First Amendment lawyer for over twenty-five years and is a frequent speaker on intellectual freedom issues in libraries. She is a contributing author for the Intellectual Freedom Manual and frequently leads webinars and programs on intellectual freedom, libraries, and the law.

The course begins on March 4, 2019, and can be purchased at the ALA Store. Participants in this course will need regular access to a computer with an internet connection for online message board participation, viewing online video, listening to streaming audio, and downloading and viewing PDF and PowerPoint files.


Deborah Caldwell-Stone is Interim Director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom and the Freedom to Read Foundation. She is a recovering attorney and former appellate litigator who now works closely with librarians, library trustees and educators on a wide range of intellectual freedom and privacy issues, including book challenges, Internet filtering, meeting room policies, government surveillance, and the impact of new technologies on library patrons’ privacy and confidentiality. She has served on the faculty of the ALA-sponsored Lawyers for Libraries and Law for Librarians workshops and speaks frequently to librarians and library organizations around the country about intellectual freedom and privacy in libraries.

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