For immediate release | January 10, 2013

OIF designates Jan. 27, 2013 as 'Sweater Vest Sunday' to support intellectual freedom

ALA Midwinter viral campaign encourages reporting of challenges to library materials

CHICAGO — ALA Midwinter 2013 attendees – and all fans of intellectual freedom – can take a stand for the freedom to read (and for fashion!) by participating in Sweater Vest Sunday! All day on Sunday, January 27, 2013, help spread the word about the importance of reporting challenges to library materials by wearing a sweater vest to your meetings, lunches, programs, and special events. On site in Seattle, ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) staff and volunteers will be passing out stickers and postcards to Midwinter attendees. And at 2:45 p.m. at the ALA Member Pavilion in booth 1650 on the exhibit floor, everyone is invited to a group photo of librarians showing off their sweater vests!

Those unable to attend Midwinter are encouraged to participate virtually by tweeting photos of themselves in sweater vests to @oif using the #sweatervestsunday and #alamw13 hashtags, adding photos to the ALA Midwinter 2013 Flickr stream, pinning a Challenge Reporting Campaign poster on Pinterest and "attending" the Sweater Vest Sunday Facebook event.

Sweater vests and the challenge reporting campaign

In 2011, the Office for Intellectual Freedom unveiled the “It’s Everybody’s Job” Challenge Reporting Campaign to encourage the reporting of challenges to materials in libraries and schools. Conceived by librarian Andy Woodworth, the campaign commissioned original artwork (inspired by World War II-era public safety notices) that can be shared online and printed as posters and bookmarks. The posters and bookmarks feature a librarian rocking ... a sweater vest!

Last year, with help from the University of Illinois, OIF debuted a new database, with significantly improved functionality for both those reporting challenges and the office’s ability to analyze the information it gets. This, in turn, will provide a significant boost in the ability to understand what is being challenged, where, by whom and why; and thereby help OIF in its efforts to support librarians, teachers and community members in defending the freedom to access information. It’s also how OIF compiles its annual “Top Ten List” of Banned and Challenged Books.

OIF Director Barbara Jones said, “OIF’s statistics are only as good as the data it gets. And recent surveys by the University of Missouri and the ACLU of Texas have confirmed that OIF is informed of less than 25 percent of the materials challenges in libraries and schools each year. Sweater Vest Sunday is our way to remind everyone to let us know about challenges happening in your community, so that we can be in a position to help.”

Challenges reported to OIF are CONFIDENTIAL, and only used for statistical purposes. When OIF publishes details about specific challenges – such as in its Banned Book Resource Guide – it only includes those that have been reported in the media. OIF has produced this handy video to help explain the process.

For more information, please visit

Burning questions:

What about regular sweaters? Regular sweaters are okay in a pinch. The important thing, after all, is to spread the word about reporting challenges. Midwinter attendees who choose to wear a regular sweater can pick up an “It’s Everybody’s Job” sticker at the ALA Pavilion on the exhibit floor.

What about bow ties? Bow ties are optional. As are eyeglasses.

Is there a great, informative, and interactive intellectual freedom-related Midwinter event I should attend that day? Why yes! There will be an Intellectual Freedom Discussion Group session from 1 - 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 27 in room 616 of the Washington State Convention Center. In addition to discussion challenges to materials, we’ll have tables on privacy, internet filtering, and media violence.

After that, at 2:45 p.m., there will be a group photo of all Sweater Vest Sunday participants at the ALA Member Pavilion on the exhibit floor.


Jonathan Kelley

Program Coordinator

Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF)

800-545-2433 ext.4226