Hasan Minhaj at the Public Library Association Conference in Philadelphia on March 24. Photo: Laura Kinser

Newsmaker: Hasan Minhaj

June 1, 2018

You share some intensely personal experiences in Homecoming King about being the child of an immigrant. Was it hard deciding what to codify into comedy? In a comedy special you have only 70 minutes, so a lot of times you’re working with coffee and you need to boil it down to comedy espresso. I’m trying to … Continue reading Newsmaker: Hasan Minhaj



Julie Jones

Institutional Neutrality Isn’t Reality

May 1, 2018

The rally was hosted by the UW College Republicans, who invited Patriot Prayer—a right-wing group based in the Pacific Northwest—as a way to exercise free speech rights. As many open-carry advocates, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis voiced their intentions to attend the rally, fears of maintaining campus safety increased. (Just last year, a protester was shot … Continue reading Institutional Neutrality Isn’t Reality


Community-centric Advocacy

February 9, 2018

Libraries transform lives. Libraries transform communities. Librarians are passionate advocates for lifelong learning. Libraries are a smart investment. According to the research cited by the bootcamp’s leaders, humans need to hear something up to 10 times before the message really sinks in, so let’s see how many times I can pepper these messages into my … Continue reading Community-centric Advocacy


Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one. --Neil Gaiman

Ten Reasons Libraries Are Still Better Than the Internet

December 19, 2017

Sixteen years ago, American Libraries published Mark Y. Herring’s essay “Ten Reasons Why the Internet Is No Substitute for a Library” (April 2001). Technology has improved exponentially since then—social media didn’t even exist yet. But even the smartest phone’s intelligence is limited by paywalls, Twitter trolls, fake news, and other hazards of online life. Here … Continue reading Ten Reasons Libraries Are Still Better Than the Internet


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