2021 Year in Review

2021 Year in Review

January 3, 2022

Wong’s election makes ALA history At the conclusion of the 2021 Annual Conference Virtual, Patricia “Patty” M. Wong began her term as the first Asian American to serve as ALA president.   The American Rescue Plan Act and libraries When President Biden signed into law the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 on March … Continue reading 2021 Year in Review


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ALA, Divisions Oppose Widespread Censorship Efforts in US Schools and Libraries

November 29, 2021

Due to a dramatic uptick in book challenges and outright removal of books from libraries, ALA’s Executive Board and the Boards of Directors for all of ALA’s eight divisions have released the following joint statement regarding attempts to remove materials that focus on LGBTQIA+ issues and books by Black authors or that document the Black … Continue reading ALA, Divisions Oppose Widespread Censorship Efforts in US Schools and Libraries


A protester at the Save Niles Library rally in July. Organizers met at a local park, then marched to the library for a public hearing on proposed budget cuts.

A Conflict of Values

November 1, 2021

Incumbent trustee Becky Keane-Adams responded immediately, saying she wholeheartedly disagreed. “Books are windows,” she began. “If you open a book and you can never see yourself in it, then it’s hard to figure out who you are.” The comments of Makula—elected in April along with candidates Olivia Hanusiak and Suzanne Schoenfeldt, who like Makula identify … Continue reading A Conflict of Values


Librarian's Library by Allison Escoto

Up to the Challenge

November 1, 2021

Foundations of Intellectual Freedom By Emily J. M. Knox This text is a practical introduction to intellectual freedom in librarianship. It provides a broad overview, including historical perspectives, key US case law and precedents, a presentation of opposing viewpoints, and an examination of various professional codes of ethics, among other essential topics. The work also … Continue reading Up to the Challenge


Man in plaid shirt, back to camera, films library patron with a cellphone

Uptick in First Amendment Audits

August 26, 2021

“My heart sank,” Ryan says. She had learned about these encounters in 2020 and knew what they entailed. In First Amendment audits, individuals arm themselves with video cameras, proclaim themselves “auditors,” and enter public buildings, like police precincts and libraries, to record alleged violations. “I know what these people do, so when I heard it … Continue reading Uptick in First Amendment Audits


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ALA Executive Board Opposes Censorship of Programs Addressing Racial Injustice, Black American History, and Diversity Education

August 18, 2021

The American Library Association is committed to upholding our core values, which include equitable access to knowledge, social justice, and intellectual freedom. As members of a profession committed to free and equitable access to information and the pursuit of truth, we stand firm in opposing any effort to suppress knowledge, to label “controversial” views, or … Continue reading ALA Executive Board Opposes Censorship of Programs Addressing Racial Injustice, Black American History, and Diversity Education


Young woman in blue shirt reads the 10th edition of ALA's Intellectual Freedom Manual

Intellectual Freedom: A Manual for Library Workers

July 8, 2021

What were some of the biggest changes in the manual—such as new laws, policy updates, privacy rules, and technology issue—since the ninth edition in 2015? MARTIN GARNAR: One of the biggest changes was the sheer number of new interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights—eight in total, with topics ranging from religion and politics to … Continue reading Intellectual Freedom: A Manual for Library Workers


Drag queen reads a book to children (Photo: Jennifer Ricard)

A Deeper Look: Censorship beyond Books

July 8, 2021

Databases and digital resources Almost every library has at least one database subscription that offers curated content published by reputable sources. The target audience and content vary widely among databases, and because databases are digital resources, users can access the content in various settings—in the library, at school, and at home. These factors can cause … Continue reading A Deeper Look: Censorship beyond Books


2021 ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition Virtual

2021 Annual Conference Wrap-Up

July 8, 2021

Headlining speakers talked about books, libraries, and the exchange of ideas in the greater context of major societal challenges. Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and Opening Session speaker Nikole Hannah-Jones, who developed the 1619 Project for The New York Times Magazine, recalled an elective course on Black studies she took as a teenager. “It was the first … Continue reading 2021 Annual Conference Wrap-Up


Confronting the Myth of Neutrality

The Myth of Neutrality

June 28, 2021

“The act of education is an act of vulnerability, the willingness to open up to the possibility of a new worldview or at the very least be exposed to it even if it doesn’t shift your own,” said Stacy Collins, research and instruction librarian at Simmons University in Boston. There are those who arrive at … Continue reading The Myth of Neutrality


Photo of Annual speaker Alison Macrina

Reconciling Our Values

June 24, 2021

Macrina spoke about the thorny concept of viewpoint neutrality, or the idea that libraries must provide equal access to collections, services, and spaces without regard to the entrenched power dynamics that often shape library policies and outcomes. She also touched on libraries’ precarious position in the crosshairs of the culture wars. “Many marginalized people, in … Continue reading Reconciling Our Values


Sen. Barack Obama speaks at the 2005 ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition

Bound to the Word

June 2, 2021

President-Elect Barack Obama keynoted the opening general session at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, June 23–29, 2005, while a US senator from Illinois. This article, published in the August 2005 issue of American Libraries, is an adaptation of that speech, which drew record crowds and garnered a standing ovation. See also AL’s interview with … Continue reading Bound to the Word