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.
- 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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
- 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 email@example.com 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
Mark Danko, chair