IFRT Newsletters

The Intellectual Freedom Round Table Newsletters are created by the Publications and Communications Committee.

The Intellectual Freedom Round Table Newsletters are created by the Publications and Communications Committee.


Intellectual<br />
 Freedom Round Table


April 20, 2023

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Dear Member

Thank you for supporting intellectual freedom and privacy in libraries through your IFRT membership! This newsletter brings anticipatory greetings from Chair Angela Ocaña, who is looking forward to ALA Annual; details on an upcoming event exploring the certainty trap on college campuses; a grand slam opportunity for Merritt Fund fundraising during ALA Annual; news of the ALA IFRT Emerging Leaders’ project; congratulations to the Oboler Award winner; a member spotlight; legislative and advocacy updates; and an IFRT Throwback celebration from the 1980s. Read on for more!

Colorful ALA Annual 2023 Conference & Exhibition logo, Chicago, June<br />

It’s Conference Time: Chair’s Message

I just booked my hotel for the Annual. It's weird how energizing (exhausting?) the conference can be. Of course, there are the exhibit hall, programs, and learning things, but I have enjoyed hanging out with dorks who love Intellectual Freedom most. When I tell people I am involved with the Round Table, it is the perfect time for them to speak on happenings in their library. We laugh, get angry, and understand what each other is going through. It's cathartic; it's human, and it's conference time.


Register<br />
 for Campuses and the “Wokeness” Problem

Event - “Campuses don’t have a ‘wokeness’ problem. They have a certainty problem.”

Register! Friday, April 21 noon-1pm Central (virtual)

According to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign associate professor of sociology Ilana Redstone, stories of campus political excesses pile up like bodies. The word “woke” has become the go-to term for many people who wish to express their concerns about these excesses. It’s meant to refer to a narrow progressive political ideology that leads to concerns over free speech, shoutdowns, and self-censorship. But these very real challenges have been misdiagnosed by both higher education’s critics and its defenders. Campuses don’t have a “wokeness” problem. They have a certainty problem. And as a major resource for teaching and research, libraries and librarians can play a crucial role in addressing this. Join Redstone and IFRT Programming & Events Committee to unpack the certainty problem in higher education.

Register for the Intellectual Freedom Challenges event.

Merritt<br />
 Fund logo

Take Me Out to the Ball Game - to Raise Merritt Funds!

For this special night, the Chicago White Sox and IFRT will offer specially priced tickets to all ALA members, ALA Annual Conference attendees, their families, and friends. Watch White Sox vs. Red Sox in Lower Reserved seats for $30!! A portion of each ticket sold will be donated to the LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund. Stay after the game for Chicago White Sox signature fireworks show (weather permitting)! Buy your tickets now!

ALA<br />
 Emerging Leaders logo.

Emerging Leaders Team at Work on IFRT Project

Four members of the 2023 ALA Emerging Leaders cohort are now at work on a research project for the Intellectual Freedom Round Table. The project team, made up of Maya Bergamasco, Paul McMonigle, Sarah Colbert and Rach Wells, recently sent a survey to the library associations of all 50 states. The goal is to use the information they gather to create a resource for librarians facing materials challenges. Read more on the Intellectual Freedom Blog.

Headshot<br />
 of Emily Knox with the book covers of Foundations of Information Ethics and Foundations<br />
 of Intellectual Freedom.

Congratulations Emily Knox, Winner of the 2023 Oboler Award!

Congratulations to Emily J.M. Knox, PhD, MSLIS on receiving the 2023 Eli M. Oboler Memorial Award ⁠— which recognizes the best published work in the area of intellectual freedom ⁠— for her book Foundations of Intellectual Freedom, published in 2022 by ALA Neal-Schuman! The Oboler Award selection committee selected Foundations of Intellectual Freedom because of its high literary quality, outstanding references and research, and the importance of its message during what could be described as a period of intellectual freedom crisis. The selection committee agreed that the content is relevant to library workers at libraries and institutions of every kind. More information on Dr. Knox’s work and the Oboler Award is available in the press release.

Lydia<br />
 King, IFRT Member Spotlight, March, 2023

Member Spotlight: Lydia King

Lydia King is in her second year serving as a school librarian at Centreville Middle School in Centreville, Alabama. She also works part time as a reference assistant at North Shelby Library. She reads the Intellectual Freedom Blog, social media accounts, and checks emails that come through ALA Connect for intellectual freedom news and information. Lydia is currently a member of the Publications and Communications Committee for the Intellectual Freedom Round Table. Read more about IFRT member Lydia King!

Unite<br />
 Against Book Bans campaign logo.

Parents Bill of Rights and ALA Advocacy

On March 24, 2023, the Parents Bill of Rights passed the U.S. House in a 213-208 vote. At the time of this article, the bill was headed to the Senate, where it is not expected to pass. The measure would require schools to publish their curricula publicly and demands that parents receive a list of books and reading materials accessible at the school library. ALA has launched an advocacy campaign asking members to contact their legislators regarding this threat to students’ and educators’ intellectual freedom. Join ALA’s Unite Against Book Bans Campaign. To stay up-to-date with ALA legislative issues, sign up for ALA’s Advocacy List.

ALA<br />
 statement condemning violence and threats against library workers and libraries.

ALA Condemns Ongoing Threats Against Library Workers and Libraries

On March 27, the ALA Executive Board issued a statement condemning the ongoing threats against libraries and library workers after Hilton (New York) Central School District received two bomb threats the previous week. “ALA calls on community leaders and elected officials to stand with libraries and others who promote the free and democratic exchange of ideas to stand up to those who would undermine it.” Read the full statement.

Logo<br />
 for IFRT Throwback with retro text

IFRT Throwback: On Its 10th Anniversary, IFRT Faces Book Challenges

Did you know that IFRT will turn 50 in 2023? Celebrating our semicentennial is a great opportunity to look back on our work over the years and reflect on the timelessness of intellectual freedom.

An important reminder that the fight against censorship is a long-standing problem, the November 1982 IFRT Report talks about the “dramatic increase in attacks on our intellectual freedom” the Roundtable similarly faced 40-something years ago.

Thankfully, they also left us with an inspiring message:

“We need to carry the message of free expression and free access to all those we serve…We run the whole show in one-person public and special libraries, serve on the front line in reference, public service, and circulation positions, work in technical services, acquisitions, databases, administer libraries and systems of libraries, educate librarians–you name it, we do it!”

Read about this and more in the November 1982 IFRT Report.


Intellectual<br />
 Freedom Round Table



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Intellectual Freedom News

Intellectual freedom News

The Intellectual Freedom News is a free weekly compilation of news by the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom including

  • current book challenges in libraries and schools
  • articles about privacy, internet filtering and censorship
  • ALA activities, conferences and institutes, products, online learning opportunities, awards and grants, international exchanges, and more
  • how to get involved and make the most of what ALA offers