When the superintendent of the Dixie County School District sought to censor the reading lists of students, Library Media Specialist Lindsey Whittington stood up for intellectual freedom and fought the ban.
Part of the Librarians Lead Against Censorship blog series. Last year, the West Chicago Public Library was thrust into the public eye when a patron challenged the library’s holding of This Day in June, a children’s picture book about a Pride parade. I spoke with WCPL’s Youth Services Manager, Dominique Mendez, about what lead to the challenge and how the community responded.
Part of the Librarians Lead Against Censorship blog series. The Sauk Prairie High School Librarian, Lynn Evarts, remained very close to the situation throughout its unfolding and provided key leadership to the community on the matter. For her efforts, Evarts, plus her colleagues, earned the 2017 Lee Burress Intellectual Freedom Award from the Wisconsin Council of English Teachers.
Part of the Librarians Lead Against Censorship blog series. In 2017 Academy School District 20’s Challenger Middle School Library faced a challenge to the book Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles. A parent challenged the book, objecting to language, alcohol use, violence and sexual descriptions. I had a chance to talk to Gina T. Schaarschmidt, the Challenger Middle School librarian, about the challenge and her experience working with the Office for Intellectual Freedom.
Part of the Librarians Lead Against Censorship blog series. Issues like censorship can feel big and overwhelming. My advice would be that there is always, always, something that you can do. Change what you can, where you can, when you can. Because if we don’t, who will?
Before she worked for ALA, Kristin experienced a very public and personal challenge to books when she was the young adult librarian at the West Bend Community Memorial Library. In her current position, Kristin has the opportunity to use this very difficult experience from her past to help librarians who are facing challenges today. Here is Kristin’s story.
Guest post by Isabel Klein, a member of the Intellectual Freedom Round Table’s (IFRT) Coalition Building Committee. Charged with recognizing effective coalition building in state chapters and promoting the necessary framework to fight censorship at the ground level, IFRT has profiled Erin Kennedy, the chair of Idaho Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee.
Former ALA President Ann Symons said it well in explaining that a materials challenge is a trip to hell, something that you wouldn’t want to wish on your worst enemy. However, I believe that facing the experience with honest communication and an understanding of the right of each person to their particular viewpoint are the keys to navigating the journey successfully. My parents taught me to stand up for I believed in and supporting intellectual freedom and universal access are, for me, core beliefs.
We may read about challenges and censorship in the news but when the story no longer makes headlines, the librarians are still doing their jobs. Ten years later, Ms. Barnett still advocates for access to all resources.
How is a librarian’s career impacted when they experience a significant material challenge in their library? I decided to ask some librarians about their careers following a challenge. I contacted librarians who experienced a challenge in their library 10 or more years ago, and asked them some questions about their career paths. The following is an interview with Amy Crump, who experienced a challenge to books held in the Marshall (Mo.) Public Library.