From left: Beth Staley, Katy Ryan, and Gabriella Pishotti of the Appalachian Prison Book Project in Morgantown, West Virginia. Photo: Raymond Thompson

Prisoners Pay to Read

May 22, 2020

Of concern to Ryan and others was the fine print: Tablet users would be charged up to five cents per minute to access most of the tablet content. This included otherwise free public-domain materials, such as books from Project Gutenberg. APBP facilitates prison book clubs, provides tuition for college classes in prison, and sends free books … Continue reading Prisoners Pay to Read


Meredith Farkas

When Speech Isn’t Free

May 1, 2020

I take issue with the notion that libraries are ensuring all voices are heard when they let hate groups speak. Hate speech considered in a vacuum might look merely offensive, but when viewed in a historical context, that speech is inextricably linked with physical violence. Young men marching with torches and chanting “Jews will not … Continue reading When Speech Isn’t Free


Photo: Man holding a video camera in the library

Free Speech—or Free-for-All?

January 2, 2020

The call represented a trend unfolding in public facilities across the country: individuals who arm themselves with video cameras, proclaim themselves First Amendment auditors, and enter police precincts, post offices, libraries, and other spaces under the auspices of the First Amendment right to free speech in order to record staff violations. The Connecticut caller was … Continue reading Free Speech—or Free-for-All?



Challenges to nonbook materials in libraries

Censorship Beyond Books

September 24, 2019

“That didn’t necessarily make sense to me because most public libraries are well prepared to deal with challenges,” she says, pointing to the popularity of Banned Books Week (this year September 22–28) and the array of resources OIF provides for librarians dealing with book challenges. “When I went back and looked just at public libraries, … Continue reading Censorship Beyond Books


Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on a bookshelf in a target

Up to the Challenge

September 3, 2019

Build your foundation The first step is to be an excellent educator. Your lessons should foster “opportunities for learners to demonstrate personal curiosity and creation of knowledge” and “support the diverse developmental, cultural, social, and linguistic needs” represented in your community, according to the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) National School Library Standards for … Continue reading Up to the Challenge


Laura Broderick

Still Chilling: Censorship Beyond Banned Books

June 23, 2019

Kristin Pekoll, Assistant Director of ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) began the session by announcing that OIF had recorded 531 affected items in 2018—which is a step beyond just challenges. These items included books films, board games, video games, magazines and much more. Sarah Ward, outreach librarian at Hunter College Libraries in New York … Continue reading Still Chilling: Censorship Beyond Banned Books


Erin Berman

Intellectual Freedom 101

June 23, 2019

If the purpose of Intellectual Freedom 101, held Friday afternoon, was to get the conference off to a lively start, it was successful. The fast-paced, one-hour panel let attendees learn about the intellectual freedom activities ALA and its affiliates are working on and how they are defending First Amendment rights. Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) … Continue reading Intellectual Freedom 101


Illustration: David Michael Moore

Target: Librarians

June 3, 2019

“All hell broke loose when just the title of the grant [‘Minority Student Experiences with Racial Microaggressions in the Academic Library’] was discovered,” Cooke said at “Defeating Bullies and Trolls in the Library: Developing Strategies to Protect our Rights and Personhood,” a workshop held at Skokie (Ill.) Public Library on March 8. A harassment campaign … Continue reading Target: Librarians


Nicole A. Cooke at Defeating the Bullies and Trolls in the Library event at Skokie (Ill.) Public Library. Photo: Max Herman.

Defeating Bullies and Trolls

March 15, 2019

“All hell broke loose when just the title of the grant was discovered” she said. In the weeks that followed the report’s release, Cooke’s email address and phone number were disseminated by hate groups and their online followers, leading to harassing phone calls and emails. When she asked for her contact information to be removed … Continue reading Defeating Bullies and Trolls


In Practice by Meredith Farkas

When Values Collide

November 1, 2018

Another core value is intellectual freedom, and we have a long and proud history of supporting it in the face of censorship. Because we attempt to represent a diversity of perspectives in our collections, displays, and programming, most libraries contain material that some patrons might find offensive. But what if a perspective repudiates the dignity … Continue reading When Values Collide


ALA logo

ALA Council Rescinds “Meeting Rooms: An Interpretation of The Library Bill of Rights”

August 16, 2018

The motion to rescind the 2018 version was approved. Ninety of the 179 councilors were required to vote. Seventy-five percent of those voting were needed to approve the measure. A total of 146 voted on this question, representing 82% of eligible voters. The final tally: 140 voted to rescind, four voted not to rescind, and … Continue reading ALA Council Rescinds “Meeting Rooms: An Interpretation of The Library Bill of Rights”