For immediate release | January 22, 2019

Meeting room policies, displays and drag queen storytimes to be discussed at ALA Midwinter Meeting

Meeting room policies, drag queen storytimes, research databases, and library book displays have made headlines and sparked controversy in libraries. At the 2019 ALA Midwinter Meeting, the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) will host “Intellectual Freedom and the Law: Issues and Updates for Meeting Rooms, Drag Queen Storytimes, and Library Displays.” The program will provide information about the legal issues surrounding these topics, as well as guidance on crafting library policies that protect and meet the needs of the library and its community; uphold intellectual freedom; and comply with the law. The program will provide ample time for audience questions and discussion.

This “News You Can Use” session is presented by Theresa Chmara, general counsel of the Freedom to Read Foundation, and moderated by Deborah Caldwell-Stone, OIF interim director.

Book displays, research databases, and drag queen storytime programs have been the targets of recent censorship attempts, including lawsuits intended to halt library programs and remove library resources. An important conversation about meeting room policy and access for controversial groups took place in the library community after the adoption of the revised “Meeting Rooms: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights” during the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans, sparking a return to the 1991 interpretation and a proposed revision to address these concerns. “Intellectual Freedom and the Law” will use these real-life issues to outline relevant legal concepts and offer guidance on developing effective library policy. The presenters encourage attendees to raise questions and concerns during the latter half of the program.

“Intellectual Freedom and the Law” will take place on Saturday, January 26 from 1-2 p.m. in Washington State Convention Center, Room 618-620.

This program is part of the Law for Librarians initiative sponsored by the Freedom to Read Foundation and OIF. The initiative provides educational opportunities, publications and expert instruction to improve library workers’ and trustees’ understanding of the laws governing free speech, user access and user privacy in libraries.


Eleanor Diaz

Program Officer

Office for Intellectual Freedom