Forrest Spaulding, Courtesy Des Moines Public Library

Forrest Spaulding: Drafter of the Original Library Bill of Rights

This month, 129 years after his birth and almost 82 years after the adoption of the Library Bill of Rights, it seems fitting to remember the work done by Forrest Spaulding in creating a bold and straightforward document that continues to inform the library profession in the United States and around the world.

Because Librarians know information is the best medicine for healthcare questions. #LibrariesTransform

Can Libraries be “Antibodies” Against the “Infodemic”?

Agenda-driven books regarding COVID-19 and vaccines are appearing as top results on retail searches. Those of you who have worked library reference are most likely accustomed to patrons showing you an Amazon page on their phone asking “can you get me this book?” Performing a book search for “COVID-19” via both Amazon and Barnes and Noble shows books suggesting debunked conspiracy theories within the first ten results. Additionally, searches on OCLC WorldCat reveal that books with such misleading or debunked information wind up on the shelves of public, college, and high school libraries.

Hands on a fence.

Charging for the right to read: who really pays?

Ultimately, when it comes to a fundamental right like reading, all prisoners should have equal access regardless of ability to pay. As I have argued before, reading can play an important role in educating and rehabilitating those prisoners who want to reform. When we place barriers to information between prisoners and rehabilitation, I would argue that they aren’t the only ones who pay – we all do.

Library Bill of Rights

Library Meeting Rooms for All

The Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) crafted a revision of the 1991 “Meeting Rooms: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights.” The revision of the interpretation was broadly inclusive and transparent and was adopted by ALA Council. The revision did not establish any new right to conduct hate speech in libraries. ALA does not endorse hate groups and does not seek to normalize hate speech.

Wedding Cake

Wedding cake warning: policies & decisions must be content neutral

Many libraries have meeting rooms or public spaces that can be used for speakers and events, and this case reinforces the importance of making content neutral decisions regarding who can use these spaces and what they can use them for. Decisions that are not content (or viewpoint) neutral risk legal problems for the library. This also highlights the importance of a clearly defined meeting room and events policy, both to guide internal decision making and to allow staff to have clear and specific viewpoint neutral policy-based reasons if they choose to deny a request to use library space.