In 1953, when confronted with comparable threats to our democratic values, the American Library Association issued the Freedom to Read Statement, a declaration in support of freedom to think or believe as one chooses, the freedom to express one’s thoughts and beliefs without fear or retaliation, and the right to access information without restriction. ALA’s Executive Board, staff, and member leaders reaffirm not only the principles of the Freedom to Read statement but also the daily practices that ensure it continues to inform the profession and that library workers and library trustees have the training, information, tools, and support they need to celebrate and defend their communities’ right to read and to learn.American Library Association
Book challenges have been a hot topic in news and politics lately. The American Library Association (ALA) Executive Board and eight divisions recently released a statement affirming its opposition to widespread efforts to censor books in U.S. Schools. OIF has tracked 155 unique censorship incidents between June 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021. With the high volume of challenges right now, OIF has made available a clearinghouse of resources on its Fight Censorship page.
The page is organized by different aspects of addressing censorship. First are resources for preparing and responding to challenges. This involves looping in ALA so that they can draw attention to the harms of censorship in addition to helping protect against challenges before they happen. For example, pertinent to recent censorship attempts there is a guide from the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) on maintain LGBTQ+ materials in school libraries. There are also resources on the rights of schools and students/minors, in addition to general guidelines on how to respond to challenges and concerns about resources. This includes suggested responses to informal complaints and verbal concerns.
One of the biggest factors in fighting censorship is one’s community. There are various resources on working with the public. These include how to respond to questions about youth and access to library resources, tips for addressing challenges during a public meeting, and working with community leaders. The number of people that belong to a said community is increasing, mainly due to social media’s ability to further connect people. Fortunately, there is a guide on using social media, which includes toolkits for creating live streams and advocating via social media.
In addition to these resources, there are also a number of graphics, recorded webinars, and statements you can use to promote and support intellectual freedom. Overall this page is a great stop as you engage with censorship attempts at your library.
David Sye is a Research and Instruction Librarian at Murray State University in southwestern Kentucky. He is liaison for the History, Political Science & Sociology, and Psychology departments, as well as teaching instruction sessions and credit-bearing courses on information literacy. He holds a BA in History from the University of Illinois at Springfield, in addition to an MA in History and MLIS from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Prior to working at Murray State University, he has worked in public libraries and briefly taught middle school social studies.