Intellectual Freedom Stories from a Shifting Landscape

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Intellectual freedom is a complex concept that democracies and free societies around the world define in different ways but always strive to uphold. And ALA has long recognized the crucial role that libraries play in protecting this right. But what does it mean in practice? How do library workers handle the ethical conundrums that often accompany the commitment to defending it? Rather than merely laying out abstract policies and best practices, this important new collection gathers real-world stories of intellectual freedom in action to illuminate the difficulties, triumphs, and occasional setbacks of advocating for free and equal access to information for all people in a shifting landscape. Offering insight to LIS students and current practitioners on how we can advance the profession of librarianship while fighting censorship and other challenges, these personal narratives explore such formidable situations as

  • presenting drag queen story times in rural America;
  • a Black Lives Matter “die-in” at the undergraduate library of the University of Wisconsin-Madison;
  • combating censorship at a prison library;
  • hosting a moderated talk about threats to modern democracy that included a neo-Nazi spokesman;
  • a provocative exhibition that triggered intimidating phone calls, emails, and a threat to burn down an art library;  
  • calls to eliminate non-Indigenous children’s literature from the collection of a tribal college library; and
  • preserving patrons’ right to privacy in the face of an FBI subpoena.

These stories provide a rich platform for debate and introspection by sharing real-world examples that library staff, administrators, board members, and students can consider and discuss.  

ISBN: 978-0-8389-4726-5
Published: 2020
Publisher: ALA Editions
Pages: 208
Sku: 9780838947265

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