Valerie Nye is the Library Director at the Santa Fe Community College. She previously worked as a library director at the Institute of American Indian Arts and as a library consultant at the New Mexico State Library, where she started researching and training others on intellectual freedom and banned books. She has coedited a book with Kathy Barco, True Stories of Censorship Battles in America’s Libraries, and a literary research guide with R. Neil Scott, Postmarked Milledgeville: A Guide to Flannery O'Connor's Correspondence in Libraries and Archives. She currently serves on the board of Amigos Library Services and holds an MLIS from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Intellectual Freedom Stories from a Shifting Landscape
- Table of Contents
- About the Authors
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.
Check out this book's companion website now!
Examination copies are available for instructors who are interested in adopting this title for course use.
Foreword: Storytelling for Advocacy, by Janice Del Negro
Introduction: Advocating for Intellectual Freedom through Storytelling
Part I Protected by Policy
Chapter 1 Give Them Library Cards!
Chapter 2 The Vitruvian Man and a Threat to Burn Down the Art Library
Chapter 3 Adventures in Book Court
Reflection Questions for Part I
Part II Public Events
Chapter 4 Black Lives Matter Die-In: Library Space as an Intellectual Freedom Issue
Raina Bloom and Carrie Kruse
Chapter 5 Exposing a Community: Drag Queen Storytime in Rural America
Chapter 6 Did We Just Normalize Extreme Views and Make the Library an Unsafe Place?
Reflection Questions for Part II
Part III Difficult Conversations
Chapter 7 A Library’s Response(ability) in #MeToo
Chapter 8 Promoting Intellectual Freedom through a Social Book Group
James Allen Davis and Hadiya Evans
Reflection Questions for Part III
Part IV Institutional Decisions
Chapter 9 The Storage Closet
Chapter 10 The Fox and the Hedgehog: When Libraries are behind Bars
Chapter 11 Widely Read Teens Become Well-Rounded Adults
Chapter 12 Y Colorín Colorado, Este Cuento Se Ha Acabado [Snip, Snap, Snout, This Tale’s Told Out]
Carme Fenoll Clarabuch
Reflection Questions for Part IV
Part V Patrons Challenging Material
Chapter 13 Transgender Children’s Books in the Public Library
Chapter 14 Restoring EBSCO: The Power of Coalition and Rapid Response
Rebekah Cummings and Peter Bromberg
Chapter 15 “Bullshit Hatred from Cover to Cover”: Islamophobia in The Age of Trump
Chapter 16 Anywhere USA
Reflection Questions for Part V
Part VI Cultural Sensitivity
Chapter 17 “Just Get Rid of Them”: American Indian Children’s Literature in the Tribal College Library
Chapter 18 Censorship and Sensibility
Reflection Questions for Part VI
Conclusion: The Work Continues
About the Contributors
"These stories provide lived examples from banned book challenges to drag queen story time to a Black Lives Matter die-in and much more. They will spur librarians to reflect on the programs they have organized and give them ideas for future programming and responding to community backlash ... The conclusion asks readers to share their stories around intellectual freedom and librarianship as an ongoing project. Now more than ever, librarians should use their libraries to mobilize change, and they must continue to listen to and learn from one another."
"A very readable and informative volume that provides an up-to-date account of its subject in the era of Black Lives Matter and MeToo ... The ‘Reflection Questions’ provided for each chapter indicate an intended primary audience of practicing librarians, but students of librarianship and indeed anyone concerned about intellectual freedom will find much of value and interest here."
— Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association
"One story from the book can represent the phenomenon. Two stories already indicate a pattern. Any of the stories will call attention to them all. All of them talk about the same: intellectual freedom ... Sharing these stories collected in an entire volume, rather than just one by one on ephemeral social media platforms, not only sends a message of a united stance for diversity, equity, and inclusion, but also helps librarians and the public understand that no one is an island, no one should fight alone, and the ALA is also there to help. The Office for Intellectual Freedom offers support and guidelines based on ALA standards."
— Judit Hajnal Ward, Rutgers University's Books We Read blog
"The depth and breadth of case studies described in this book illustrate the many ways in which librarians must grapple with complex intellectual freedom challenges in all areas of their work. Even in the cases which may be more familiar to readers like book challenges, the case studies provide useful examples of policies and procedures to follow when encountering these intellectual freedom challenges ... [This is] an important book for current times as threats to intellectual freedom continue to be a concern for all in librarianship and in the wider world. "
— Against the Grain