New intellectual freedom resource helps librarians address challenges to problematic authors

For Immediate Release
Mon, 01/24/2022


Kristin Pekoll

Assistant Director

Office for Intellectual Freedom

American Library Association

CHICAGO – Librarians face an increasing number of book challenges, with objections aimed specifically at the content contained in the books themselves, including LGBTQ+ content and critical race theory.

But today the objections are increasingly reaching beyond the books themselves, with the focus shifting to the personalities of the authors themselves based on activities that often go beyond the scope of what they commit to the printed page.

The American Library Association's (ALA) Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) is offering a new resource, Addressing Challenges to Books by Problematic Authors: Q&A, that will help librarians navigate this new and often intimidating terrain.

This new resource will guide librarians by providing detailed information about what it means when an author is labeled “problematic” and how such labels impact intellectual freedom.

It also answers the question of the role of the library worker in educating users about problematic authors in a way that informs users while maintaining impartiality. That role is especially important in assisting readers in reviewing and assessing content on their own.

Addressing Challenges to Books by Problematic Authors: Q&A draws on ALA’s Library Bill of Rights and the Intellectual Freedom Manual as it explores the increasingly critical issues surrounding book challenges around problematic authors.

Other topics include the role of special collections and special libraries; the responsibilities of public libraries that receive government funding; requests for collection removal by authors and publishers, particularly based on allegations of racism or sexual impropriety; and the inclusion of problematic authors in school curriculums or on reading lists.

In addition to addressing challenges from outside the library, the tool advises how to address concerns  raised by colleagues.

“This is a critical time for librarians as they face mounting pressure from individuals and groups to limit access to books featuring diverse stories, people, and themes,” said ALA President Patricia “Patty” Wong. “Now that the focus is reaching beyond the books and onto the authors themselves, librarians need resources to deal with challenges to problematic authors. This resource provides valuable direction during this demanding time.”

For more information on Addressing Challenges to Books by Problematic Authors: Q&A, visit

About the American Library Association
The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice of libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit

About the Intellectual Freedom Committee
The Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) is a committee of the ALA Council, the governing and policy-making body of the association. The IFC guards, promotes, and educates members and the public about two of ALA’s core values: intellectual freedom and privacy.