Sweater Vest Sunday Q&A

Challenge Reporting, General Interest, Midwinter Meeting/Annual Conference, Office for Intellectual Freedom

By popular demand, below are the answers to all of your Sweater Vest Sunday questions – including the burning question, “Why sweater vests???”

Q.  What exactly is the point of Sweater Vest Sunday?

  • To raise awareness — specifically among librarians, library workers, library trustees & Friends, and library supporters— about the importance of reporting challenges to the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF).  Recent surveys confirm that upward of 75% of all challenges to library materials are never reported. Our goal is to increase the number of challenges reported to OIF and to spread awareness about the services and support OIF provides. Please visit www.ala.org/challengereporting for more information on why reporting challenges is so important, and how the reporting process works.
  • By participating in Sweater Vest Sunday, you can spark important conversations about the reality of censorship in libraries today and show solidarity with those librarians who have faced difficult censorship challenges. Wear your heart on your sleeve(less)!

Q.  When and where is Sweater Vest Sunday?

  • Sweater Vest Sunday, will take place Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, in conjunction with the ALA 2013 Midwinter Meeting in Seattle.
  •  At 2:45 p.m. at the ALA Member Pavilion (booth 1650) on the exhibit floor, all Midwinter attendees are invited to participate in a group photo of everyone – attendees, vendors, staff – showing off their sweater vests!

Q.  Is Sweater Vest Sunday only for Midwinter attendees?

  • By no means! We encourage those not attending Midwinter to participate virtually on January 27, by posting photos of themselves (tagged with #sweatervestsunday and #alamw13) on social media and helping spread the word about the challenge reporting campaign.

Q.  Why sweater vests???

  • In 2011, OIF worked with librarian Andy Woodworth to develop original artwork for a campaign to increase the reporting of challenges. That artwork features a librarian looking quite sharp in a sweater vest, with a message encouraging librarians to “Defend the Freedom to Read… It’s Everybody’s Job.” When thinking of ways to increase visibility for this ongoing effort, the sweater vest stood out as an idea for how librarians might show their support for the campaign’s message in a highly visible and lighthearted way.

Q.  I’m just not a sweater vest person. How else can I help spread the word about challenge reporting and show my support for intellectual freedom?

  • Clothing-wise, be creative! Sleeveless cardigans, argyle patterns on other pieces of clothing, sleeveless jean jackets … we are inclusive! (And for those participating virtually, there’s always the option of digitally removing sleeves from a regular sweater!) We just ask that you use the #sweatervestsunday and #alamw13 hashtags.
  • Midwinter attendees can wear a Challenge Reporting Campaign sticker – available at the ALA Member Pavilion.
  • Most importantly, help us spread the word about the importance of reporting challenges — among your colleagues, in your chapters, and with your friends. We need EVERYONE’S help to gather the information that helps us protect and defend everyone’s freedom to read. Please visit www.ala.org/challengereporting for shareable posters and banners, a video, and FAQs about challenge reporting.

Q.  If I don’t participate in Sweater Vest Sunday, will people think I don’t support intellectual freedom or the challenge reporting campaign?

  • Absolutely not! Sweater Vest Sunday is entirely optional and meant to be a fun, visual, “viral” way of bringing to light this important campaign. OIF’s work to increase the reporting of challenges is ongoing and we urge everyone to help us spread the word throughout the year.

Q.  What else I should know about reporting challenges to OIF?

  • A challenge is any formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school, requesting that material be removed or restricted due to content or appropriateness.
  • Reporting challenges to OIF is confidential and can be done anonymously.
  • OIF uses challenge reports for statistical purposes, including compiling an annual “top ten list” of frequently challenged books for Banned Books Week.
  • Reporting challenges helps OIF provide better information and support to librarians facing future controversies.

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