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




Core Top Technology Trends

Libraries and Invasive Technology

January 24, 2021

John Mack Freeman, manager of Gwinnett County (Ga.) Public Library’s Suwanee branch, opened with a clip that appeared to show former US President Barack Obama voicing support for Black Panther movie villain Erik Killmonger. (The clip was actually a BuzzFeed-produced PSA from director Jordan Peele, who imitated Obama’s speech patterns with cleverly synched video.) It … Continue reading Libraries and Invasive Technology


ALA logo

ALA Statement on Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping

October 29, 2020

“On September 22, the White House issued its Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping, prohibiting federal employees, contractors, and grant recipients from discussing or considering concepts such as critical race theory and white privilege and discouraging diversity education and training. This order is based on the patently false and malicious claim that diversity … Continue reading ALA Statement on Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping



Resisting Hate with Speech

June 24, 2020

“You are really heroes and heroines on the front lines of making freedom of speech and freedom of thought a reality for everybody all over the country,” she said. Protecting free speech and thought, even if it goes against one’s personal beliefs or morality, should be a prime concern for librarians, Strossen said. The session … Continue reading Resisting Hate with Speech


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


In Practice, by 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?