Banned Books Week draws attention to literary censorship, but books aren’t the only materials that are banned or restricted. Every year, the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom also documents challenges to databases, filtering, websites, films, programs and displays. Below are initiatives and resources that highlight intellectual freedom, free access to information and privacy rights.
The ALA American Association of School Libraries designates one day during Banned Books Week as Banned Websites Awareness Day. Banned Websites Awareness Day raises awareness about the overly restrictive blocking of educational websites and academically useful social networking tools in schools and school libraries.
What do Hotmail, YouTube, Google Docs, Facebook and National Geographic have in common? They may be filtered under the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), making them inaccessible to children and adults who rely on internet access provided by public libraries and schools. This study identified an overreach in the implementation of CIPA that disproportionately impacts those who can benefit most from public internet access.
Confusion over Children’s Internet Protection Act requirements and the Supreme Court’s opinion can lead to overly restrictive filtering that denies library users their First Amendment right to receive information. Given these circumstances, it is worthwhile to review just what the law does require regarding internet filtering in libraries.
ALA’s Choose Privacy Week (May 1-7) promotes the importance of individual privacy rights and celebrates libraries and librarians’ unique role in protecting privacy in the library and in society as a whole. The initiative encourages libraries to be champions of privacy rights in the digital age and highlights ways libraries can protect the privacy of their patrons and educate persons to think critically and make informed choices about their privacy.
Since November 2016, the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom has been tracking hate crimes in libraries using reports from the media and reports submitted through its challenge reporting form. OIF works closely with the ALA Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services to provide support to libraries who report hate crime and hate speech incidents.
Freedom of Information (FOI) Day is an annual event on or near March 16, the birthday of James Madison, who is widely regarded as the Father of the Constitution and as the foremost advocate for openness in government.