As this first year as a contributor to the ALA OIF blog comes to a close, I’ve asked some of my system colleagues to reflect on what Intellectual Freedom means to them, personally and professionally.
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has boycotted a local bookstore, bringing intellectual freedom and censorship discussions to light.
Paper & Fire jumps right back into the action bestselling author Rachel Caine created with 2015’s Ink & Bone, a series which supposes what the world might be like if the Great Library of Alexandria had survived the test of time.
There is an interesting situation developing in Australia with potential to directly affect Australian authors, publishing, and readers. The Australian government is looking to possibly repeal the ‘parallel importation restrictions’. The PIRs are part of the country’s Copyright Act and prohibit imports by booksellers when an Australian publisher has acquired exclusive rights and publishes the title within 30 days of original overseas publication.
With the recent publication of ALA’s Top 10 Challenged Books list, we saw some recurring titles, as well as new entries. Returning to the list is, Looking for Alaska by John Green, often challenged for its offensive language, sexually explicit scenes, and claims that it is generally unsuited for the age group. Since its publication in 2005, and despite its popularity with critics and readers, plus a laundry list of accolades (i.e. Winner, 2006 Michael L. Printz Award, 2005 School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, A Kirkus Best Book of 2005, and many more), the novel continues its reign as one of the most popular banned books.
The concept of intellectual freedom is a driving point for the narrative and provides an extraordinary teaching point for readers of any age. The novel does a great job introducing the principles of intellectual freedom to young readership. Dorrie and the other apprentices are tasked with learning the Princples of Lybrarianship. A conversation which was fully explored by the author and supported within the text, its plot and characters.
Please take a moment as we welcome James LaRue as the new director for the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom. Born and raised in Waukegan, IL, he’s spent the past 29 years in Colorado and recently relocated to Chicago to begin his new job in January. A lover of music, movies (Groundhog Day, Soapdish, Ex-Machina), breakfast anytime and Chicago hot dogs, he is a self proclaimed RE-reader, choosing to plow through a lot of the same books every year with favorites including: Heinlein, Connie Willis, Dorothy Savery, the Harry Potter series and the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman. Director LaRue was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few more questions.
We come back to the question: what is ‘appropriate’ for public school libraries or libraries in general? It is more likely that this ongoing debate will never be solved. For as long as libraries have collected materials to share with patrons, there is inevitably someone who wants to sanction the types of materials purchased and made accessible to the public. It remains our jobs as librarians, the disseminators of information, to uphold the ideals of intellectual freedom as well as encourage libraries to cultivate written collection development policies and procedures. A well balanced collection should have appeal to each and every patron. We must encourage the act of viewing a piece as a whole and not singling out words or scenes to devalue the novel as a collective entity.