Intellectual Freedom: A Core Tenet

September 11, 2014

Karen Muller

For 75 years, since ALA Council first adopted the Library Bill of Rights in 1939, challenging censorship has been a core tenet of librarianship.

Intellectual Freedom: A Core TenetThe essays in the 2014 edition of Banned Books: Challenging our Freedom to Read, by Robert P. Doyle, outline how case law has extended the protection of the freedoms of speech and press to include freedom of expression of ideas and information. This background reading informs use of the “First Amendment Action Guide,” an advocacy plan for promoting Banned Books Week. For librarians who serve students and others researching why a particular book is banned, the ongoing value of Banned Books is the listing of 1,890 titles that have been banned or challenged. If you haven’t read prior editions of the list, it will both surprise and sadden you. If you serve a community where even one class is assigned to “choose a favorite banned book” and report on why it was challenged, you need this book.

Indexed. Office for Intellectual Freedom, 2014. 380 P. $39. 978-0-8389-8688-2

Special note: The 10th edition of the core resource, ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Manual, is being updated and will be available in 2015.

Intellectual Freedom: A Core TenetThe Library Juice Press Handbook of Intellectual Freedom: Concepts, Cases, and Theories explores what the freedom to access information without restriction means in greater philosophical depth. Editors Mark Alfino and Laura Koltutsky have gathered essays from 21 librarians, scholars, and theorists that look at the origins of the principles of intellectual freedom, particularly as they were expressed in the Enlightenment and incorporated into the US Bill of Rights. The same time line includes Mary Wollstonecraft’s 1789 essay calling for women’s equal access to information and education, laying part of the foundation for 20th-century feminism. Other essays explore the impact of intellectual freedom on journalism, the internet, and open access; consider artistic freedom; and examine the limits of academic freedom. These are not easy essays, but they are important as they relate concepts we apply in libraries to other facets of our lives.

Indexed. Library Juice Press, 2014. 482 P. $50. 978-1-936117-57-4

Intellectual Freedom: A Core TenetThe subtitle to Intellectual Freedom for Teens: A Practical Guide for YA and School Librarians, edited by Kirstin Fletcher-Spear and Kelly Tyler, defines the book, which is for librarians serving teens, whether in school or public libraries, as they navigate challenges to materials in the collection; develop programming to help teens think more clearly about the abstract concept of censorship; and work to balance students’ need for digital resources with fears about unfettered access to the internet or social media. Appendices include an annotated list of the most challenged young adult (YA) books from 2006 to 2011 and the ALA Library Bill of Rights, with relevant interpretations.

INDEXED. ALA Editions, 2014. 144 P. $48. PBK. 978-0-8389-1200-3

Intellectual Freedom: A Core TenetProtecting Intellectual Freedom and Privacy in Your School Library, by Helen R. Adams, collects previously published essays on applying intellectual freedom principles in school libraries. In addition to addressing the importance of a materials selection policy as preparation for a challenge, Adams also offers guidance on serving students with special needs; looks at privacy issues; and proposes ways to advocate for intellectual freedom through programming and instruction.

Indexed. Libraries Unlimited, 2013. 263 P. $55. PBK. 978-1-61069-138-3 (Also available as e-book.)

Intellectual Freedom: A Core TenetVOYA’s Guide to Intellectual Freedom for Teens, by Margaret Auguste, is a call to action, capped off with vignettes of nine advocates for intellectual freedom. The initial chapters explore themes in YA literature—sexuality, violence, profanity, the occult—that result in challenges. Subsequent chapters address ways librarians can take action to learn more about fighting censorship. The final chapters reiterate the importance of the selection policy and define other advocacy methods.

Indexed. VOYA Press, 2012. 208 P. $40. PBK 978-1-61751-007-6

Intellectual Freedom: A Core TenetBooks Under Fire: A Hit List of Banned and Challenged Books, by Pat R. Scales, is another resource for understanding the societal issues reflected in the hundreds of book challenges the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom receives each year. Children’s books that have received the majority of challenges are featured. A summary, reviews, details of recorded challenges, awards received, and additional reading about the author and the book are included for each entry. Talking points on why the books have been challenged and other books covering the same themes for use with book groups are also featured.

INDEXED. ALA Editions, 2014. 232 P. $47. PBK. 978-0-8389-1109-9