In a year in which challenges to books in school and public libraries have become organized and a sad feature of political campaigns, awards to those fighting for the right to read become all the more worth celebrating. The Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) presents three awards recognizing the commitment and strength of two very deserving leaders in that fight.
Part love story, part historical exploration of a small town in 1930s Texas, the award winning and highly acclaimed YA novel Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez was originally banned in two middles schools after a now viral moment in which a parent angrily quoted from a passage that references anal sex.
Wendell Berry, in his essay, “On Edward O. Wilson’s Consilience,” voices his skepticism towards total intellectual freedom within the arts, and how, in his opinion, situations have arisen in which this freedom has been abused.
The Intellectual Freedom Round Table, as well as the Office of Intellectual Freedom, are excited for the diverse slate of programs at LibLearnX. A registration link for the conference can be found here (please consider attending!), but the programs we’re most excited for, as you can imagine, deal directly with issues of intellectual freedom.
While book challenges are a perpetual issue within the library world, recent decisions by many school boards to remove supposedly “obscene” titles from their library collections with little justification seems to signal that this is a growing problem that won’t subside anytime soon. It’s with this increasing intolerance in mind—and the accompanying threats to the employment of library staff who might wish to defend intellectual freedom—that this toolkit for the Merritt Fund has been created.
The School Library Journal’s survey on children’s/YA collection development and weeding, published this past June, paints the picture one would expect: circulation of print materials was down 73%, circulation of ebooks was up 91%, and both public and school libraries decided to purchase more digital materials. However, the report did contain at least one surprising piece of information: a “quarter of respondents…say their weeding criteria have changed over the last few years.” One reason for these changes? A growing “awareness of unconscious racial bias, inclusion and diversity.”
In light of recent attacks on the rights of LGTBQIA+ individuals and an increasingly toxic political environment, it’s doubtful that these concerted efforts to censor the speech of others will fade away anytime soon. Furthermore, librarians and their professional commitment to creating learning environments free from censorship almost certainly guarantees that they will face further challenges. Thus, the intention behind this list, even if it’s not entirely successful in communicating the breadth of ALA resources, is to provide a starting point for further exploration of intellectual freedom and the ways in which we, as librarians, can better advocate not only ourselves, but our communities as well.
Should servicemen and women be exposed to material some might deem anti-American? There are two answers to this question: the first, which addresses the specific case of Spike Lee’s Malcolm X, and the second, which appeals to the universal right to free speech usually espoused by those on the political right, but seemingly abandoned in this case.
This is an interview with Deborah Caldwell-Stone, Director of the Office of Intellectual Freedom, and, as such, provides information on the Office’s and its stance regarding Scholastic’s recent decision to pull Dav Pilkey’s The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future.