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Archive for the ‘public libraries’ Category

The Censor’s New Clothes, CLA Presentation

In censorship, education, intellectual freedom, LGBTQ issues, public libraries, school libraries, youth on December 4, 2010 at 1:09 pm

As promised, here are the slides from my brief presentation on the Revolutionary Voices book challenge in New Jersey. (Delivered at the California Library Association conference, Sacramento, CA, Nov 14, 2010).

Library law expert Mary Minow and school librarian Jill Sonnenberg joined me for a great overview on the ideological forces driving intellectual freedom challenges in libraries (from LGBTQ-themed books to Vamos a Cuba to Internet filtering). Mary clarified the meaning of Island Trees v. Pico and legal differences between public–school material challenges.

Jill talked about the ways filters are changing and limiting student’s ways of learning, particularly when it comes to active learning methods using content creation, critical inquiry and collaboration. She shared,

While most of us out there in the trenches will fight to keep important books on our shelves…[w]e are not fighting for students’ rights to create and collaborate…We stop at no when our districts or tech directors or network administrators summarily or arbitrarily ban blogs and wikis and social networking and media sharing and yes, even digital storytelling.” — Joyce Valenza (10/5/08, “2.0 is an Intellectual Freedom Issue”)

Jill left us with an excellent list of practical background reading, especially Doug Johnson.

Censored Book Contributors

A Message to LGBTQ Youth

I talked about the recent challenge against Revolutionary Voices in the context of a religious and political campaign against Obama appointee Kevin Jennings, while focusing on some of the learning and positive outcomes the challenge created. Most notably: both sides harnessed their ability to get the word out online and, therefore, opened doors for a (somewhat) transparent public debate. We need more of this.

I recently heard second-hand that another NJ library is reconsidering The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. The school apparently discussed making the decision quietly behind closed doors. Not every challenge results in a book removal, but transparency about challenges provides a crucial pulse-check and an invaluable learning opportunity for anyone engaging in the debate — especially local students.

On a related note: NJ school librarian Dee Venuto provides excellent documentation on the Revolutionary Voices challenge on Prezi.

Top Legal Issues for Libraries: Two Webinars

In censorship, law, library profession, privacy, public libraries, school libraries on March 15, 2010 at 8:59 am

Recently, I’ve attended two helpful webinars on hot legal topics in libraries. Thursday’s session by LibraryLaw’s Mary Minow focused on:

  • The hurried extension of the USA PATRIOT Act;
  • Recent court decisions about public meeting space in libraries (no, you cannot bar religious groups), and
  • Legal precedent set by book challenges including a Florida ruling that sidestepped Island Trees v. Pico and established a slippery slope around books containing representational “inaccuracies.” The Supreme Court let the 11th Circuit’s 6-3 decision stand when it declined to hear the case last November. (The book removed was Vamos a Cuba).

Watch the recorded webinar.

The other useful session, held in February, covered “Library Laws for the Mobile Web Environment.”

Philadelphia Libraries Saved

In activism, labor, library funding, public libraries on September 21, 2009 at 7:55 am

logoflpUpdate on my previous post about Philadelphia library closures:

On September 17th legislators in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania voted to save the Philadelphia Free Library system along with jobs for 3,000 city workers. Thousands of letters and phone calls poured in from PA voters, library users and advocates across the nation after it was announced all 54 library branches would close October 2nd.

The Senate vote was 32 to 17 in favor of House Bill 1828, which temporarily increases local sales tax and defers city pension contributions to remedy a $700-million budget shortfall. If the bill hadn’t passed other critical city services would have been reduced including trash collection, court operations and the fire department. According to the Senate roll call, all democrats supported the bill. Fifty-eight percent of Republicans opposed and 41% supported.

Philadelphia: Stop Library Closures

In information access, library funding, public libraries on September 14, 2009 at 8:43 am

Repost from About.com: Cities & Towns:

When Mayor Michael Nutter suggested slashing funds from the city budget late last year by closing 11 of Philadelphia’s 54 libraries, waves of shock and outrage rippled through the city. Now, as state budget negotiations continue to drag on in Harrisburg, the entire Philadelphia library system is threatened. The Free Library has posted an announcement on its website stating that “without the necessary budgetary legislation by the State Legislature in Harrisburg,” Philadelphia will be forced to close all of its libraries – including the main branch – on October 2nd. Earlier today the Inquirer further reported that “layoff notices could go out on Friday if the Legislature does not approve the city’s request for a temporary sales-tax hike and a two-year deferral of payments into the pension fund.”

The Free Library is encouraging Philadelphians to contact their elected officials and ask them to help keep the libraries open.

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