Free webinar: 'What Happened in Kansas City: Free Speech, Library Programs and the Law'

For Immediate Release
Tue, 11/08/2016


Sarah Ostman

Communications Manager

ALA Public Programs Office



Join ALA’s Public Programs Office and Programming Librarian for a free webinar, “What Happened in Kansas City: Free Speech, Library Programs and the Law,” at 1 p.m. CST on Thursday, Nov. 17.

On May 9, 2016, a patron at the Kansas City (Mo.) Public Library was arrested by off-duty police, at the direction of a library partner, for questioning the worldview of a speaker. When the library's Director of Programming & Marketing Steven Woolfolk tried to intervene, he, too, was arrested. As of November 2016, the city continued to seek the prosecution of both Woolfolk and the patron.

In “What Happened in Kansas City; Free Speech, Library Programs and the Law,” Woolfolk will discuss what occurred that day and share insights about protecting the free speech of library patrons. Also presenting will be Deborah Caldwell-Stone, deputy director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, who will put the Kansas City incident in perspective and discuss free speech and its intersection with library programming and the law.

To learn more and register, visit Note that the webinar will be recorded, and the archived version will be available, free of charge, on

About the presenters

Steven Woolfolk is the director of programming & marketing at the Kansas City Public Library, where he has arranged and coordinated appearances by Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Stephen Breyer, journalist Dan Rather and former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. Before joining the library, he spent 15 years in the newspaper industry, running papers in Missouri and Louisiana.

Deborah Caldwell-Stone is deputy director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. An attorney by training, she now works closely with librarians, teachers and library trustees on a wide range of intellectual freedom issues, including book challenges, internet filtering, meeting room policies and the impact of new technologies on library users' privacy. Before she joined ALA in 2000, Caldwell-Stone practiced appellate law before state and federal courts in Chicago.

About ALA's Public Programs Office

The ALA Public Programs Office promotes cultural programming as an essential part of library service in all types of libraries. The office provides leadership, resources, training and networking opportunities to help libraries serve their communities as cultural hubs and centers of lifelong learning. For programming ideas, professional development and grant opportunities, and free, on-demand online courses, visit