The increasing focus on privacy and antitrust issues, along with how to handle advertising via social media, could mean big changes on the horizon and librarians would do well to consider the potential implications and how we can help our patrons navigate and understand digital consumption.
A recent push by the FBI for US universities to monitor Chinese students is alarming – but this siren rings with a different tonality depending on your listening equipment. To Senator Mark Warner, it’s about national security. But to me, it sounds a whole lot like government-sanctioned censorship.
Therefore, the erosion of any free speech case, particularly those involving the press or speech on educational campuses, raises concerns for the library profession. Free expression, free access, and resisting censorship are core principles of the library profession and the Library Bill of Rights.
Americans can exercise unique freedom of speech rights granted by the first amendment of the US constitution. But can we expect to exercise these freedoms on the websites that have increasingly dominated our channels for communication?
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.