Response Concerning the 2015 Banned Books Week Poster

Banned Books Week

Over tBBW_2015_MiniPoster_200x300he past week, the Office for Intellectual Freedom has reviewed and carefully considered the comments posted to social media, blogs, and listservs concerning the poster for the 2015 Banned Books Week campaign, as well as the two comments sent directly to the office. We also discussed the issues raised by the commenters with many members and others who are part of the library community.

Commenters are concerned that the poster might be insulting to Muslim communities our nation’s libraries serve and that any resolution should prioritize ALA’s important commitment to diversity.  Others are concerned because they do not interpret the poster in that way at all, and do not want ALA to compromise longstanding principles of intellectual freedom.  Still others believe that the poster has generated an important discussion about race and religion that ALA should foster and continue. We have also received many thoughtful statements from members who would like OIF to find a balance between these important values.

We intend to take the following actions:

  1. Provide another poster that does not use the image of a person for those who want an alternative to the current poster.
  2. Retain the current poster as an option for those who want to use it.
  3. Promote the “make your own poster” template that uses the layout and graphic elements of the current poster that offers libraries the opportunity to create their own posters featuring persons of different ages and backgrounds.
  4. We have spoken to the Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and have asked them to consider engaging in community discussions addressing diversity, race, and religion.

We have reviewed our proposal with members of the Intellectual Freedom Committee; the Committee on Professional Ethics; Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels; the Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services; ALA Graphics; and other affected offices and ALA staff, and they agree with the Office for Intellectual Freedom that the above resolution is one that fairly addresses all the concerns raised by members and the library community while balancing and upholding the values of our association and the profession.


  • Insulting to Muslims? How? Why? Because it looks like someone wearing a burqa? Oh come on! I’m a Biblical Christian & some co-workers & patrons diminish my beliefs regularly. Get real and stop being so sensitive/touchy. If you are confident in your beliefs someone insulting it should just bring you to honesty & sadness, not anger or wanting them to change just to make you feel better.

  • It is a stretch to say that this looks like a burqua. A burqua would at a minimum complete cover her hair which is plainly visible.

    I am glad we can have these conversations. The very fact that we can discuss our different opinions and viewpoints is at the heart of intellectual freedom.

  • While I didn’t make the connection between the poster and Muslim dress (without help from Twitter, of course), the inclusion of the person’s face in the poster made it very difficult to make the connection between the restricted driving sign and the “readstricted” heading. Without the person’s face, that connection is much clearer.

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