Dear Vermont Library Worker,
The Vermont Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) would like you to know we’ve got your back.
We are as concerned as you are about the censorship and challenges of books, particularly school library books, in many other parts of the country. Books which talk about complex social issues such as racism and bigotry, or which simply portray LGBTQIA+ characters and stories, are being aggressively targeted by so-called “family friendly” protestors who are trying to have these books removed from libraries, often through legislative means.
VLA IFC believes the best defense is a good offense, and we want to help libraries in Vermont prepare for the conversations and challenges which may be coming. Here are three things that libraries can do now to prepare.
- Be ready in advance of challenges or censorship action. Make sure your library has a collection development policy to support your library’s collection, and procedures for dealing with people’s requests for book removals. This procedure should be available to any staff who may be interacting with the public, and it should be readily available to a staff member dealing with such an interaction. The American Library Association”s Selection & Reconsideration Policy Toolkit for Public, School, & Academic Libraries has good information for creating or amending such a document.
- Prepare to report challenges or censorship actions. The American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom (ALA OIF) provides confidential support to anyone addressing a challenge to materials, programming, policy, or services. Their challenge report form allows you to report censorship and request assistance with the challenge. Alternatively, you can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 312-280-4221 / 1-800-545-2433 x4226 to request assistance.
In addition, please notify VLA IFC of any challenges, using our Report a Challenge form. We keep statistics on challenges in Vermont.
- Contact the VLA IFC. We have a rapid response team who can help you manage situations and people. Email email@example.com and we will connect you with resources and strategies to help you with whatever you’re dealing with.
We’re all in this together. Forewarned is forearmed. We’re here if and when you need us.
VLA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee
Randal Smathers, chair
Last update October 10, 2023