In the past week, there have been two cases of censorship that have left me scratching my head once again.’  The first concerned Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls.’  Someone took the book to task for encouraging anorexic behavior among teens, calling it a “how-to” manual (http://tinyurl.com/pcf3qf).’  Then, later, a group in Tennessee have removed a link from their summer reading list that directed folks to YALSA’s BBYA list of recommendations (http://tinyurl.com/or8vo6).

I am bothered here because both of these’ instances seem to suggest to me that’ there are adults out there that think teens are not intelligent, that they are unable to separate fiction (what they are’ reading) from reality (what they are living).’  This’ attempt to somehow protect teens from reading about any difficult issues and topics seems not’ always to be a matter of’ being overly protective.’  Read More →

Judith Fingeret Krug, longtime director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom and the founder of Banned Books Week, died Saturday after a long illness.’  Advisor, author and public servant, she was a remarkable leader in the struggle to educate the public concerning the right to the free expression of ideas. Judy was an inspiration to all who knew her.

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Steve Martin’s play Picasso at the Lapin Agile, was recently banned from production in a La Grande, OR high school, because parents objected to it’s adult content.’  The play is about an imagined meeting between Picasso and Einstein in Paris.’  ALA’s’ Office for Intellectual Freedom reports that over 420 books were challenged in 2007 (this is the most recent data available).’  ‘ If only every book could have a celebrity in’ it’s corner, writing’ a letter to the editor in the community newspaper, as Steve Martin did.
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“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.

As a school librarian in a district that uses WebSense, I’m all too familiar with the blocked page screen. For the mostpart, filtering seems to be limited to what someone recently referred to as “bandwidth hogs”–sites like YouTube, which could definitely tax district servers if too many students tried to browse all at once.’  Every now and then I’m frustrated by a block–like when a friend recommended a book to me, and for some reason the review she linked was blocked–but I generally understand the rationale behind most blocks, even if I don’t necessarily agree with it (*cough*Facebook*cough*).

But what happens when the blocker isn’t WebSense or internet filtering at all? What if you can’t access a resource because a colleague or an administrator or your community has decided you shouldn’t?

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From time to time, YALSA teen blogger Katie and I will get together to have a heart-to-heart talk about issues affecting teen librarians from both a teen and librarian’s perspective. First up: what does intellectual freedom mean to the teens who use our library?

For more information about teens and what you can do to be an advocate of intellectual freedom, please visit the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom or YALSA’s own Intellectual Freedom Resources.

~Joseph Wilk
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Teen

As’ a YALSA Intellectual Freedom Committee member, I have my choice of a smorgasbord of Intellectual Freedom meetings and’ activities to attend at Conference. ‘ However by far, the best part of my trip to Midwinter was attending the Freedom to Read Foundation’s‘ Fourth Annual Author Event’ featuring Lauren Myracle.

Lauren’ specifically addressed’ the banning and challenging of her books.’  She’ spoke about how she could empathize with parents who’ find her books’ objectionable.’ ‘ ‘ Because the world is truly a scary place,’  protecting your children is a priority.’ ‘  Read More →

One of my esteemed IF Committee colleagues touched on this point a couple of posts back, but I find a need to bring it up again. There have been a couple of intellectual freedom related issues that have cropped up in my library and community as of late; The debates were centered around two books: Elizabeth Scott’s ‘Living Dead Girl’ and Susanna Kaysen’s ‘Girl, Interrupted’ and their suitability for a teen audience. This has had me pondering the meaning of the word “appropriate” and the way it sometimes gets tossed about in our line of work. Read More →

Neil Gaiman responding to a question on why defending free speech you don’t like is necessary’  made me realize how important it is to remind ourselves as young adult librarians to push our comfort levels when buying potentially controversial materials.’  In thinking about graphic novels, I wonder if larger systems with three different sections of GN might be more willing to start something in YA knowing they can always move to A if needed.’  10 years ago when it was harder to find enough Children’s GN to fill up a shelf, there was more danger of having Tintin next to Watchman, but now it seems easier. Read More →