Every week Periodically, the OIF Blog will be featuring a profile of the intellectual freedom activities from ALA’s state chapters. Our first featured state is Maryland. The entire series can be found here.
MARYLAND’S IFAP: Food, Fun AND Intellectual Freedom
by Mary Somers, Chair, Maryland Library Association Intellectual Freedom Advisory Panel
The Intellectual Freedom Advisory Panel of the Maryland Library Association is an active, vibrant part of Maryland’s intellectual freedom scene. It is, as the name suggests, an advisory panel rather than a division within the structure of MLA. The chair of the panel is also a member of the Executive Board, the Legislative Panel and the Conference Committee. This means a lot of meetings for the chair, but allows for fairly seamless communication within the organizational structure. The current panel consists of 16 active members, and an equal number of “silent” members. Silent members are kept up to date with information, but, due to job, distance or time restraints, do not usually attend meetings. Meetings are held every other month; they are working lunch meetings, held at one of a number of local
restaurants. You can view our Annual Report here.
The panel has a members-only wiki where we post notices, “hot topics,” and other items of interest. The panel is also in the process of revising the Maryland Intellectual Freedom Manual, based on the ALA publication of the same name. The revisions will bring Maryland’s document in-line with the 8th edition of ALA’s manual. We also have a Facebook page – please “like” us!
The panel tries to present at least one program each year, usually during the annual conference (which is a “dual” conference, as Delaware is a partner in the conference as well). This can take the form of a preconference with several presenters, or a standalone program. Some topics covered in past years include “Defending Access with Confidence,” “Protect Patron Privacy-it’s the Law,” “What is this Filth? Law for Frontline Library Staff,” “Can the KKK Meet in the Library? Law for Library Administrators,” “Harmful to Minors,” and this past year’s program “%@#& This Book Says: Challenges to Provocative Materials and How to Handle Them.” The panel’s current initiative is a preconference for the 2012 conference; the working title is “Intellectual Freedom 101” and will hopefully provide a brief overview of the issues surrounding library ethics and resources for protecting and educating customers. Access, censorship vs.
selection, privacy and confidentiality are some of the topics to be covered.
Speakers for our programs come from within the panel, within local library systems, and from the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom. Over the years we’ve learned that OIF is the single best resource for speaker suggestions. Intellectual Freedom seems to be a topic that professionals are passionate about; they are eager to “spread the word.”