Social Justice and Intellectual Freedom Webinar Presented (Free!) by ALA Intellectual Freedom Round Table

Diversity, Intellectual Freedom Issues, Intellectual Freedom Round Table, Professional Development

Thaw the chill between social justice and intellectual freedom at Frosty Windows, Frosty Mirrors: Representation, Labeling, Discoverability, and the Chilling Effect on Friday, February 26th from 1-2:30pm central via Zoom (register here), a free webinar hosted by the ALA Intellectual Freedom Round Table.

As libraries undertake important work to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, access, and belonging, questions arise about ethical commitments to intellectual freedom, including issues of censorship, privacy, and the chilling effect, and complicity with hate, exclusion, and exploitation. 

Panelists will discuss current thinking and practice on these important and challenging issues. After the panel, attendees will have the opportunity to share their perspectives with panelists in break-out room listening sessions.

Panelists include 

Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy
  • Loida Garcia-Febo, international library consultant, researcher and expert on topics such as human rights, advocacy and services to multicultural populations, and past ALA president
  • Rhonda Evans, assistant chief librarian of the Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library, IFRT Membership Promotion committee member, and IFRT chair-elect candidate
  • Amanda Vazquez, assistant director, Dubuque County Library District and chair of IFRT’s Publications Committee
  • Shannon Oltmann, associate professor in the University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information, intellectual freedom scholar, and editor of the Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy
  • Laura Koltutsky, associate librarian, University of Calgary, past chair of ALA IFRT and past coordinator of ALA Social Responsibilities Round table
  • Desmond Wong, outreach librarian at University of Toronto Libraries committed to justice for and solidarity with Black and Indigenous peoples, and 
  • Rae-Anne Montague, assistant professor in Chicago State University’s information studies program and ALA Rainbow Round Table chair. 
Intellectual Freedom Manual

The event will be moderated by Martin Garnar, director of the library, Amherst College, ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee Chair, IFRT Councilor, and co-editor of the Intellectual Freedom Manual

Discussion questions might include, but are not limited to:


  • How should selection and collection management practices and other policies address representation and intellectual freedom? 
  • How should libraries handle public art, such as murals or statuary, that misrepresents marginalized peoples or memorializes those responsible for historical harms?
  • Under what conditions should individuals or groups be restricted from using library meeting spaces and resources?


  • How can we make materials and collections visible and browsable, while also striving for decentering, to avoid othering, and to preserve patron choice in privacy? 
  • How should library spaces be ‘named’ and labeled, and what considerations arise for development efforts?


  • How can social justice work inform resource description, cataloging, and indexing? Are existing resource description frameworks – such as the Dewey Decimal System, Library of Congress Classification, and Library of Congress Subject Headings – in conflict with DEI efforts; if so, can they be reformed, or should they be replaced? 
  • How do library assessment practices and patron analytics on library use impact patron privacy and chill free inquiry?
The captions, chat and recording can also be found on zoom:

Feature photo of demonstrator holding a “Unite Here!” sign at a Black Lives Matter rally by Dorret via flickr used under CC BY 2.0.

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