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


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


Carrie C. Robinson

Separate—and Unequal

October 6, 2020

Born in Mississippi in 1906, Robinson began her career as a librarian serving Black schools in South Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana before settling in Alabama, where she initially worked for Alabama State College as an assistant professor of library education. In 1947, she helped organize a librarian section of the Alabama State Teachers Association, a … Continue reading Separate—and Unequal


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


Former school librarian Helen Adams recalled the rise in surveillance technology in schools after the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School.

No Minor Concern

June 25, 2019

“Ensuring library users’ confidentiality frees them from fear of retaliation or intimidation as a result of reading a book, visiting a website, or consulting other library resources,” said Candice Mack, senior YA services librarian with the Los Angeles Public Library system. “This is regardless of age.” Deborah Caldwell-Stone, interim director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual … Continue reading No Minor Concern


The State of America's Libraries 2019

The State of America’s Libraries 2019

April 7, 2019

The report finds that library workers are on the front lines addressing community challenges. Many serve as first responders who take on roles outside of traditional library service that support patrons’ needs and community development. Functioning at various times as career counselors, social workers, teachers, and technology instructors, library staffers give special care to adopt programs … Continue reading The State of America’s Libraries 2019


Pickle reads Jacob’s New Dress at West Hollywood (Calif.) Library at an event by the national organization Drag Queen Story Hour. Photo: Jon Viscott

Fierceness—and Fierce Opposition

November 1, 2018

But while queens have proven their ability to bring the party with fantastic fashions and tales of individuality and acceptance, pockets of resistance remain. Many programs held in libraries still draw protests, as organized opposition groups insist that these storytimes aren’t appropriate for children. Lafayette (La.) Public Library (LPL) faced protests of its planned drag … Continue reading Fierceness—and Fierce Opposition


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