State Chapter Intellectual Freedom Report: North Dakota
Periodically, the OIF Blog will be featuring a profile of the intellectual freedom activities from ALA’s state chapters. Our third featured state is North Dakota. The entire series can be found here.
The North Dakota Library Association’s (NDLA) Intellectual Freedom Committee is an active and vibrant group of individuals who provide assistance to NDLA members on challenges and censorship issues. The majority of our efforts are spent promoting awareness of intellectual freedom related topics. We do this in a variety of ways including email reminders, posts to our blog, articles in our association’s publication The Good Stuff and presentations at our annual conference. We also monitor legislation that relates to intellectual freedom. State and federal officials have been contacted, on behalf of NDLA and its members, asking them to support and uphold the principles of intellectual freedom. Committee members work in a variety of library settings. This insures balanced representation for librarians throughout the state.
Within the past couple years we completed a major revision of the North Dakota Intellectual Freedom Handbook for Libraries, which is available on our association’s web site.
In 2009, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt was banned at the Beulah High School Library. Luckily the school board reversed its decision. Opinion letters were published in the Bismarck Tribune by Mr. Berendt and the NDLA Intellectual Freedom Committee Chair. Mr. Berendt accepted our invitation as keynote speaker for our annual conference that year and also served as a panelist at an intellectual freedom discussion.
In 2010, the keynote speaker for our annual conference was Joe Raiola, long-time contributor and senior editor for Mad Magazine. He presented his program, Joy of Censorship. He also took part in a panel discussion on First Amendment issues in the media.
We are a recipient of the 2011 Judith Krug Fund Banned Books Week event grant, sponsored by the Freedom to Read Foundation. We used the funds for activities at our annual conference that took place this past September. Activities included a Living Banned Books Event and a session on banned books, presented by Dr. Claudia Routon, Dr. Sherrie Fleshman and Victor Lieberman, all from the University of North Dakota. We also held drawings for banned books themed gift baskets, which included t-shirts donated by Out of Print Clothing.
2011-12 NDLA Intellectual Freedom Committee
Christine Kujawa, Chair-Bismarck Public Library
Sandi L. Bates-Harley E. French Library of the Health Sciences, University of North Dakota
Patricia Fischer-Allens Memorial Library, Valley City State University
Charlotte Hill-Bismarck High School Library
Suzanne Morrison-U.S. Courts Library 8th Circuit-Fargo
Shari Mosser-North Dakota State Library
Kate Waldera-Bismarck Public Library
North Dakota Library Association’s Statement on Intellectual Freedom
The North Dakota Library Association is concerned with the needs and rights of all citizens of North Dakota to have free access to library collections of sufficient scope and quality to provide the means for fruitful inquiry. It is the position of the North Dakota State Library Association to affirm and actively protect the freedoms of speech and press as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America and to support the policy statements pertaining to intellectual freedom heralded by the American Library Association. It is understood that libraries provide interested students and citizens with records of the past, desired information on all subjects and relevant points of view relating to contemporary and controversial issues.
It is the responsibility of librarians to accept as their broadest obligation the encouragement of free inquiry to vast and divergent information in order to preserve the perpetuation of the democratic process. This responsibility is accompanied by a commitment to defend the democratic process against any attempts on the part of any persons or groups to obstruct free access to any other citizen of North Dakota.