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.
If you’re looking for a good overview of free speech on college campuses, I highly recommend Speak Freely by Keith Whittington published by Princeton University Press this month. The book is 232 pages and distributed in print and e for $24.95. It offers a timely and very sophisticated treatment of free speech and academic freedom on American college and university campuses.
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.
Permission slips for To Kill a Mockingbird in Biloxi, When can private entities censor speech? Securing Patron Privacy, an upcoming ALCTS webinar
This current battle, in 2017 for the integrity of the classroom isn’t new for Oklahoma or the nation, but this particular bill feels like a retread. The author of Senate Bill 393 is State Senator Josh Brecheen. Brecheen has authored similar bills (six in fact) since 2011. This is his seventh attempt.