Friday, October 27, 2006

JCLC Conference Notes, Day Two: Session on Keeping Authors of Color on the Shelf

Title of the session: "Keeping Authors of Color on the Shelf: How to Successfully Defend a Book Challenge."

Another panel presentation.

Judith Krug, Director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom, ALA.
  • If it comes to that extreme, she would choose the adults over the children when it comes to intellectual freedom issues. This is because we are a self-governing nation where the adults need information to make informed decisions. This goes to the common objection of "it's not good for the children."
  • Freedom of speech means you can say what you want when you want to say it. However, you have to live with the consequences of what you say and your actions.
  • Never fight an intellectual freedom battle alone. Contact OIF (find their telephone numbers here. In fact, make yourself a little card with the numbers and keep them handy.)
Erin Byrne, Assistant Director, OIF, ALA.
  • While patrons do have the right to challenge a book, one has to wonder about their motivations.
  • Collection development is probably the most important skill a librarian has.
  • Libraries should have a solid selection policy and a solid reconsideration policy. Make your selection policy fit your library. Reasons for having a selection policy:
    1. Encourages stability.
    2. Makes ambiguity less likely.
    3. Helps to avoid haphazard selection.
  • The selection policy should be positive, up-to-date, and flexible.
  • A diverse collection is important as people want to see themselves and their needs on the library shelves.
  • Have also a donated materials policy. One consideration for this: donated materials should be subject to the same criteria as the criteria for any purchased materials.
  • To address challenges, have a firm reconsideration policy. Have the staff prepared and have a written complaint procedure available. Provide patrons with a formal written form. Once the complaint is filed, review it promptly. Use then the selection policy to make a logical and solid response to the challenge. With responses, also include reviews and any author information available. Whatever you do, keep courtesy towards the complainant.
A third speaker, not listed on the program (unfortunately) spoke of a specific book challenge in Alaska of the book Indian Myths and Legends. We were also reminded to consider the Freedom to Read Foundation and the ACLU as well if help is needed.

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