50 years of the Office for Intellectual Freedom

50 Years of Intellectual Freedom

November 1, 2017

This December, OIF is celebrating 50 years of fighting for intellectual freedom: half a century of championing ­libraries, finding allies within the literary community, and aiding librarians in times of high anxiety. It’s an evolving role to be cherished and safeguarded. Lighting the flame At the 1965 Midwinter Meeting preconference in Washington, D.C., the Intellectual … Continue reading 50 Years of Intellectual Freedom


Joseph Janes

Using Our Words

September 1, 2017

Even my amateur lexicographic interest ill prepared me for a world in which one of the more trenchant voices of political observation belongs to the Merriam-Webster Twitter feed (@MerriamWebster). If you don’t follow it yet, do so immediately, for its largely straightforward Word of the Day feature as well as its often wry and acerbic … Continue reading Using Our Words


Jefferson-Madison Regional Library in Charlottesville, Virginia (Photo: Billy Hathorn/Creative Commons license)

Charlottesville Violence Poses New Challenges for Libraries

August 18, 2017

Libraries at both the public and university level historically have developed response plans for natural disasters, but the Charlottesville demonstrations and similar white nationalist rallies planned for other cities have library administrators working not only to protect patrons and library infrastructure but to assist in relief efforts. Both the University of Florida and Texas A&M … Continue reading Charlottesville Violence Poses New Challenges for Libraries


From left: Marguerite Avery, April Hathcock, and Jamie LaRue (speaking) at the American Library Association’s 2017 Annual Conference and Exhibition in Chicago on June 24, 2017. Photo: Rebecca Lomax/American Libraries

Intellectual Freedom and Open Access: Working Toward a Common Goal?

June 25, 2017

Marguerite Avery, senior acquisitions editor at Trinity University Press in San Antonio, Texas, spoke from a publisher’s point of view. Avery eagerly joined this conversation because, “framing intellectual freedom and open access is seldom discussed over intellectual property and open access,” she explains. Avery defines intellectual freedom as “being able to seek and receive all … Continue reading Intellectual Freedom and Open Access: Working Toward a Common Goal?


A volunteer with Books to Prisons Seattle searches the donated books to fulfill prisoner requests.

The Freedom of Reading

October 31, 2016

Books-to-prisoners programs across the country are doing their best to address this need by taking book requests from prisoners by mail, then having volunteers match those requests to books that have been donated by the public or purchased with monetary donations. Volunteers also prep books for shipment, assess and sort donations, keep track of the … Continue reading The Freedom of Reading



Karen Muller

Preserving Our Values

May 31, 2016

The Intellectual Freedom Manual is a guide to providing library service in support of First Amendment rights. For the manual’s 9th edition, the background information on its policies has been pulled into a separate volume, A History of ALA Policy on Intellectual Freedom: A Supplement to the Intellectual Freedom Manual, compiled by editor Trina Magi … Continue reading Preserving Our Values


Attendees are seated at the Perspectives on Islam event on March 9 at Darby (Mont.) Community Public Library.

Perspectives on Islam in Montana

April 15, 2016

In 2016, along with our regular programming for children, we chose the Montana Historical Society traveling history footlocker, Coming to Montana: Immigrants from Around the World, for field trips with elementary-school children from Darby Public Schools, one of our local partners. The footlocker was exhibited at the library and provided a useful starting point for … Continue reading Perspectives on Islam in Montana


Joshua Hammer, author of The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts.

Newsmaker: Joshua Hammer

March 24, 2016

When reading your book, I didn’t know whether to be scared out of my mind about the jihadists or think it’s the greatest thing that these librarians were able to get the manuscripts out of danger. JOSHUA HAMMER: I think both reactions would be appropriate. Fearing for more than 350,000 medieval manuscripts in the city, … Continue reading Newsmaker: Joshua Hammer


US President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Dartmouth President John Sloan Dickey at the Dartmouth College commencement, June 14, 1953. Courtesy of Dartmouth College Library

The Freedom to Read

March 15, 2016

Eisenhower’s words shocked many because they constituted his first public challenge to McCarthyism—an ethos enveloping the country at the time and fed by Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.), who inferred communist conspiracies everywhere in American culture, including books on the shelves of 194 information libraries that the US State Department operated in 61 foreign countries. Like-minded … Continue reading The Freedom to Read