“YALSA has an Intellectual Freedom Committee? What do you do?” I have been surprised a few times by some YALSA and ALA members who were unaware that we exist. But considering that YALSA has many committees, it is possible to get lost in the shuffle sometimes.
So, without further ado – here’s what we do. According to our committee’s function statement, our purpose is:
- To serve as a liaison between the YALSA and the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee and all other groups within the Association concerned with intellectual freedom.
- To advise the YALSA on matters pertaining to the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution and the ALA Library Bill of Rights and their implications to library service to young adults and to make recommendations to the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee for changes in policy on issues involving library service to young adults.
- To prepare and gather materials which will advise the young adult librarian of available services and support for resisting local pressure and community action designed to impair the rights of young adult users.
- To assume responsibility for the continuing education of young adult librarians regarding intellectual freedom.
Here’s how we do what we do:
The chair of YALSA’s Intellectual Freedom (IF) has the primary liaison responsibility with ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee and other groups within ALA concerned with Intellectual Freedom. The sheer amount of groups can be dizzying. There’s the Office for Intellectual Freedom, the Freedom to Read Foundation, the Intellectual Freedom Round Table, as well as Division-IFC’s, from AASL to YALSA. All of these organizations have great resources such as blogs and newsletters to keep you informed, as well as open meetings for anyone who is interested in learning more about this vast and valuable ALA community.
As for YALSA-IF, you can find us online in a number of places. We’re on the blog at least once a month. From time to time we update the YALSA website’s Intellectual Freedom Resources page, a great place to go when facing a materials challenge. On the YALSA wiki, we’re under Advocacy. We use the wiki to post books and materials that are being challenged on our Challenges page, and encourage you to do the same. We have also been updating our Bibliography with recent articles about what else – intellectual freedom.
Lately, our committee has been putting most of our energy into preparing a program for Annual 2009: Walk the Line: The Fine Line Between Selection and Censorship. YALSA rotates responsibility for a program at Annual with the IF committees in AASL and ALSC. Therefore, YALSA is guaranteed a program at Annual every three years. In our off-years, we help the other two committees (with whom we meet at ever Midwinter and Annual) with their respective programs.
YALSA-IF committee members have also authored or co-authored articles and books for ALA. We assist ALA’s IF community in writing new policies and statements regarding issues such as social networking and minors in the library. We are able to complete all of our tasks by taking a personal interest in the issues surrounding intellectual freedom, which include privacy and professional ethics, in addition to censorship. If all of this sounds like fun to you, check us out at Annual 2009, and try us out during the next round of process committee applications!
YALSA-IF Committee Chair