Perhaps the most important thing librarians can do is to continue to be a part of the dialogue on how we manage these issues and balance competing interests to ensure intellectual freedom and inclusion, and to be mindful of these issues in program scheduling, meeting space usage, and collection development choices.
“I want a president” is a famous poem in some circles. It is a sacrosanct work in others, an emblem of an angry generation reeling from the AIDS epidemic, environmental degradation and trickle-down economics. Written by Zoe Leonard in 1992, it describes the desire for a different kind of world than the one she inhabits, and it was partly inspired by Eileen Myles’ write-in campaign for president 1991-1992 election. Myles is herself also an artist and published poet, winning a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2012.
“Poetic provocateur”, as coined by the Wall Street Journal, Ellen Hopkins has sold nearly five million YA books written in verse that deal with dark issues like teen pregnancy and drug abuse. Despite being consistently challenged, banned and disinvited since Crank’s publication in 2004, teen readers can’t get enough of this birthday girl!
What is more American than protecting the first Amendment? Whether it be free speech or hate speech, differing opinions will exist in the room. In educational settings, educators are preparing students for life where there are rooms filled with all forms of conflicting ideas and practices.
We owe it to kids to talk to them about their rights and what support looks like—be it for challenged books, authors, or marginalized people—and how all of it ties into the power dynamics of their country.
John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. was a Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning American Author, best known for the literary classics The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, and East of Eden. Born in Salinas, California, he lived to 66, passing away on December 20th, 1968 in New York City. His writings are taught in schools across the US, which have been challenged often.
As librarians interested in intellectual freedom, we should welcome patrons who seek out something more substantial in their quest to understand these troubling events, no matter which side of the political spectrum they come to the library from. I’ve taken a few moments to compile a list of books relevant to discussions about mass shootings and the gun debate. The list includes fiction and nonfiction, and hopefully includes a spectrum of ideas and ideologies.
Do you ever feel that deep-down sense of comfort that comes from just knowing that you’re in a role that is right for you? For some, it might be their role as a parent; for others, it might be kicking butt and taking names at their job. For Rainbow Rowell, it’s her role as a writer. Rowell, author of several Young Adult (YA) and adult books, including the award winning novel Eleanor & Park, does not pin point one experience or time when she knew she wanted to write; she simply describes herself as having “always been a writer.”
‘P is for Palestine’ is an Alphabet children’s book written by Dr. Golbarg Bashi and illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi. A local bookstore that helped publish the book was told to distance themselves from the publication and author or they would not be able to participate in a book fair.
Advocating for and ensuring access to diverse books and resources was one of the main reasons I decided to become a librarian. But, as a new librarian in a huge new city, I’ve become more unsure of myself and have found myself self-censoring.