The Intellectual Freedom Committee Rapid Response Team

Dear Vermont library worker,

The Intellectual Freedom Committee of the Vermont Library Association 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 LGBTQ 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.

The IFC believes the best defense is a good offense and wants to help libraries in Vermont be prepared for the conversations and challenges which may be coming. Here are three things that libraries can be doing now to prepare.

  1. Be ready in advance of challenges or censorship action. Make sure your library has not only a collection development policy to support your library’s collection but also a procedure 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 should be readily available to a staff member dealing with such an interaction. The American Library Association has created a Selection & Reconsideration Policy Toolkit for Public, School, & Academic Libraries which has good information for creating or amending such a document.
  2. Prepare to report challenges or censorship actions. The American Library Association Office of Intellectual Freedom has a challenge reporting form online. They are also reachable at 1-800-545-2433 x4226 or oif@ala.org. Here are some good reasons why reporting attempted censorship is important even if it was ultimately not successful. The VLA IFC would also like to hear about your challenge so we can collect local statistics.
  3. Contact the VLA IFC. We have a rapid response team of Vermont library workers who can help you, in the moment, manage situations and people if you’re feeling like you could use some help and support. Just email ifc@vermontlibraries.org which forwards to members of the Intellectual Freedom Committee and we can connect you with resources or strategies to help you with whatever you’re dealing with.

We’re all in this together and forewarned is forearmed. Our page on the VLA website is here and we’re here if you need us.

The VLA IFC

Randal Smathers, chair
Lynn Eisenbrary
Laura Fetterolf
Virgil Fuller
Bryn Hoffman
Almy Landauer
Trina Magi
Dena Marger
Amy McMullen
Susan Meyer
Rachel Muse
Jessamyn West

An Evening Without: Giving Voice to the Silenced

September 30, 2010 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Centre Congregational Church
193 Main Street  Brattleboro, VT

In celebration of the First Amendment during Banned Books Week, the Vermont Civil Liberties Union and the Vermont Library Association present “An Evening Without…Giving Voice to the Silenced” featuring Vermont authors and speakers reading from books that have been banned or challenged.

The featured readers below will read from the works of authors such as Mark Twain, John Steinbeck and Toni Morrison.
Jerry Carbone is the Director of Brooks Memorial Library in Brattleboro.
Jon Clinch is the author of two acclaimed novels, Finn and The Kings of the Earth.
Joni B. Cole is the writer of several non-fiction books and co-founder of the Writer’s Center in White River Junction.
Castle Freeman is a writer who has published four acclaimed novels, a book of  short stories, and a collection of essays.
Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina is the author of seven books, including her latest, Mr. and Mrs. Prince and hosts The Book Show, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program.
Karen Hesse is the Newbery Award-winning author of 22 books for young readers.
Suzanne Kingsbury is the author of three novels, two of which have been optioned for film

The program is affiliated with the Brattleboro Literary Festival that will continue September 30-October 1.

Intellectual Freedom Webinars for Library Trustees

SPACE STILL AVAILABLE – REGISTER TODAY AT http://www.ala.org/oif/onlinetrainings

“Controversial Materials in the Library: Supporting Intellectual Freedom in Your Community”

OIF is partnering with the Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations (ALTAFF) to present three one-hour webinars in February for library trustees on the topic of controversial materials in library collections.

The webinars, entitled “Controversial Materials in the Library: Supporting Intellectual Freedom in Your Community,” are intended to help trustees understand the basics of intellectual freedom in libraries. They will cover information on collection development policies, procedures for handling challenges to library materials, and tips on responding to controversies that may arise. Angela Maycock, OIF Assistant Director, will lead the webinar series.

Read more

Judith Krug – Librarian, Hero, Mentor, Friend

I’ve struggled for words to describe Judith Krug’s influence on my life since her death April 11, 2009. I dare not aspire to do her legacy justice when so many others have paid tribute so eloquently. See: http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/oif/rememberingjudith.cfm
I attended her service driven by a desperate need to be among those who recognized how extraordinary Judith was, and felt the magnitude of her loss, not only personally, but for the country and the world. The tightly woven fabric of her family and their generosity of sprit was awe inspiring. I am forever grateful that they shared so much of her with us.

I sat surrounded by my family, not by blood, but a bond of love, common purpose and respect that Judith knowingly propagated, then carefully cultivated and nurtured. Her boundless love and compassion will carry us through these rapids of sorrow and grief. We will carry on and carry the flame. Thank you dear Judith, my hero, my mentor, my friend and most cherished- my surrogate mom.

Gail Weymouth   Sherburne Memorial Library   Killington

VLA IFC /ALAIFC

“Tango” tops challenged books list for third consecutive year

The Office for Intellectual Freedom has released our list of the Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2008. The list is available below and on the OIF website and you can find more information in the ALA press release about the 2008 list.

The children’s book, “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, remains at the top of the list for the third year in a row. “Tango” still faces frequent challenges for reasons that include religious viewpoint, homosexuality, and age appropriateness.

OIF received a total of 513 challenges in 2008, up from 420 total challenges in 2007. For every challenge reported to OIF, however, we estimate that there are 4 or 5 challenges that go unreported.

“Tango” tops challenged books list for third consecutive year

Read more

"Tango" tops challenged books list for third consecutive year

The Office for Intellectual Freedom has released our list of the Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2008. The list is available below and on the OIF website and you can find more information in the ALA press release about the 2008 list.
The children’s book, “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, remains at the top of the list for the third year in a row. “Tango” still faces frequent challenges for reasons that include religious viewpoint, homosexuality, and age appropriateness.
OIF received a total of 513 challenges in 2008, up from 420 total challenges in 2007. For every challenge reported to OIF, however, we estimate that there are 4 or 5 challenges that go unreported.
“Tango” tops challenged books list for third consecutive year
Read more