In the spring of 1998, I was the circulation supervisor at my library and in my first year of library school. My academic advisor and fellow student (the fabulous Ann Seidl, who went on to make The Hollywood Librarian) was the chair of the state library association’s intellectual freedom committee. At one of our regular meetings, Ann suggested that I join the IFC because she thought I’d like the subject matter. Me, a mere student, on a STATEWIDE committee? I accepted her invitation, and within a year I was part of the presentation team for the committee’s Intellectual Freedom Road Show at the state library association’s annual conference. True to the name, we took our presentation to regional workshops around the state, using the opportunity to talk about the resources available through the state IFC, including our own IF handbook with sample policies and checklists. At that point, I had no idea where my IFC involvement would take me:
- 2000: I’m named chair of the committee. (Anti) filtering presentations start showing up on my agenda. The IFC passes out coffee filters at the state library conference with a sticker proclaiming them to be the only IFC-approved filter, though our idea for coffee mugs stating “I like mine UNFILTERED” never got off the ground.
- 2001: Filtering programs continue, along with the introduction of legislative updates at workshops and conferences.
- 2002: The first of many programs on the USA PATRIOT Act occurs at the state annual conference. I quickly find myself on the rubber chicken circuit, speaking at meetings of the state bankers’ association, the state bar association, and even a local church (those crazy Unitarians). [Disclosure: I am one of those crazy Unitarians.]
- 2003: after a failed attempt to get our state association to be the among the first in the nation to adopt a resolution against the USA PATRIOT Act, the IFC develops a brochure on the Act that is mailed to every library in the state, downloaded for use by libraries around the country, and goes on to win the ProQuest/SIRS State and Regional Intellectual Freedom Achievement Award from ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Round Table. We also vow to make a friendly take-over of the state association’s board. [Note: the association presidents in 2007, 2008 (me), 2009, and 2010 were all members of the IFC.] After stepping down from my position as chair of the committee, I receive a life-changing phone call from Judith Krug, who tells me she needs me to be her next intern on the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee. Since no one could ever say no to Judith, I said yes. You’ve already read about what happened next on Wednesday.
All the while I’ve maintained my membership on the state IFC, though I’ll be the first to admit that my service on the state association board and on the ALA IFC kept me from being much of a contributor. Now that I’m eleven days away from completing my term as ALA IFC chair, I’m planning to recommit to the state IFC.
While the ALA IFC has an important leadership role in developing policies and advising the ALA Council on matters of intellectual freedom, the state IFCs are on the front line of defending the principles at the core of our profession. Without them, the practical work of providing education at state & local conference and offering local support during challenges wouldn’t happen. Also, let’s be honest: sometimes ALA’s positions are not well received across the country. It makes a big difference to us folks in the middle of the country when someone local makes a statement compared to “those people in Chicago.” So, on this final day of my guest blogging appearance (and thanks to JK for the invitation), I will use this bully pulpit to encourage, nay EXHORT you to get involved with your state intellectual freedom committee. Don’t know the chair of your state committee? Natch, the OIF has a list to make your life easier. It’s our collective work across the nation that keeps the lamp of intellectual freedom brightly burning.
(Yes, I went there. I couldn’t help myself.)
It’s been both daunting and fun to be this week’s guest blogger. Coming up with a daily topic can be a challenge, which is why you were often subjected to my everday activities. According to the comments, I’ve had at least two readers who’s not on staff at ALA, plus many, many offers of natural remedies for male impotence. Thanks for reading. To my beloved moonbats, I have one final thing to say: Scrotum, scrotum, scrotum. For everyone else, read this article on Newbery Medalist The Higher Power of Lucky. Peace out.