PLA responds to growing intellectual freedom challenges with virtual townhall

For Immediate Release
Tue, 02/22/2022


Samantha Lopez


Marketing and Membership

American Library Association

CHICAGO — As libraries continue confronting unprecedented attacks on the freedom to read, the Public Library Association (PLA) will offer a virtual townhall event, Facing the Challenge: Intellectual Freedom in Libraries, on Friday, March 4, from 1–2 p.m. Central time.

During this free session, panelists will participate in facilitated conversations that explore effective responses to the coordinated attempts at censorship currently sweeping the nation. A moderated chat will follow, inviting attendees to pose questions and share insights based on personal experiences. Due to high demand, PLA will accept up to 1,500 registrations, but only the first 1,000 viewers will be able to attend live. The webinar room will open about 15 minutes before the start of the event, and we recommend you arrive early. The on-demand recording will be available in the ALA eLearning site within 1–2 business days. Learn more and register for this event.

As those who have faced book banning attempts and related legislative efforts know, the experience is often isolating and stressful. The virtual townhall will provide an opportunity for public library professionals to connect in the face of these difficult experiences. At the conclusion of the event, participants will be able to:

  • Support colleagues in local school libraries who are facing challenges;
  • Advocate for the role of public library staff in making selection decisions and managing requests for removal, in accordance with established library policy; and
  • Amplify and support community voices not heard during challenges, especially from historically marginalized groups and students.

Townhall panelists include Deb Sica, deputy county librarian at Alameda County Library (Freemont, CA); Cindy Hohl, director of branch operations at the Kansas City (MO) Public Library and immediate past-president of the American Indian Library Association (AILA); Kathy Carroll, school librarian at Westwood High School (Blythewood, SC) and immediate past-president of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL); and Melanie Huggins, executive director of the Richland Library in Columbia, SC and president of the Public Library Association (PLA).

Facing the Challenge: Intellectual Freedom in Libraries is presented by the Public Library Association (PLA) with support from the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, the Freedom to Read Foundation, and the LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund.

PLA will also be hosting an Intellectual Freedom Forum on March 24 as part of the upcoming PLA 2022 Conference in Portland, Ore. This forum will give attendees an opportunity to share resources and build connections in support of intellectual freedom. Forum sessions include: Ask a Lawyer, Peer-sharing roundtables, and 1-on-1 appointments with ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

About the Public Library Association
The Public Library Association (PLA) is the largest association dedicated to supporting the unique and evolving needs of public library professionals. Founded in 1944, PLA serves nearly 10,000 members in public libraries large and small in communities across the United States and Canada, with a growing presence around the world. PLA strives to help its members shape the essential institution of public libraries by serving as an indispensable ally for public library leaders. For more information about PLA, contact the PLA office at 1 (800) 545-2433, ext. 5PLA, or