ALA Council

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  • 1.  ALA CD #51 from the YCC

    Posted Mar 10, 2022 02:53 PM

    Following Diane Chen's example, I would also like to share my remarks in advance introducing CD 51: Resolution to Support School and Youth Services Librarians Facing Increased Intellectual Freedom Challenges

     

    Over a period of several months, in hundreds of communities across the country, school and youth services librarians who have carefully built collections that reflect our communities and their needs, in line with our core values and based on quality reviews and award lists, are seeing hundreds titles, largely those about race, equity, gender identity and sexuality not only questioned but targeted by lawmakers, politicians, parents and community groups.


    These actions are very different from the few questions that I faced in my branches or the schools in which I worked. The complaints are carefully crafted and systematically prepared with established talking points. They are concerted efforts from well-funded groups. Many are based on established lists like the 850 titles Texas State Representative (Matt Krause) emailed to superintendents.


    If we believe in inclusion, and that intellectual freedom is every learner's right, on behalf of our students and the youth we serve who deserve access to the age-appropriate books that have such meaning to them at so many moments in their lives, as well as the materials they need to develop broader perspectives of our world, we need to speak with one voice.  


    Our colleagues, especially those in schools, are being threatened with loss of their jobs, as well as criminal charges.


    Several of our friends have been publicly labeled as pornographers. They have been accused of poisoning the minds of young people. Their collections are being scrutinized and compromised by administrators who may not understand the process of a citizen's complaint or the historic danger of limiting access to materials. They are being forced to label and restrict materials. Under pressure, and experiencing fear, district administrators are not always following board-approved policies and procedures after they receive complaints.


    The result of these actions will result in the spread of book deserts in more areas for more children. 

    Several of our colleagues are opting to resign or retire early from communities they devotedly served.  When they speak up, many of these colleagues have been speaking alone.


    At the membership meeting in January, Deborah Caldwell-Stone shared that there have been 330 reports of challenges between Sept. 1 and Dec. 1. Remember that not every challenge gets reported. Deborah expected those numbers to grow.

     

    Tracie Hall has gathered a powerful group of advocates into a rapid response team. Local efforts are growing, including movements led by young people. I've heard the voices of young people at several online school board meetings.  In January we learned of ALA's Challenge Support page, and the growing number of impressive tools from OIF and the Intellectual Freedom Committee. In January we learned of ALA's Challenge Support page, and the growing number of impressive tools from OIF and the Intellectual Freedom Committee.

    We present a resolution that supports the efforts of librarians in ensuring that all young people have access to rich, inclusive collections.


    This resolution has been a true collaboration of the Youth Council Caucus and has the endorsement of several groups concerned about supporting the rights of young people to read freely. 


    At this moment of time when we so clearly see the types of tragedies that emerge when people's freedom to access information is curtailed, we ask for your support and we welcome your comments and suggestions.

    Thank you, President Wong, Councilors and guests. Thank you, Executive Director Hall.


    Joyce Kasman Valenza, PhD
    Associate Professor, Rutgers University, SC&I      
    skype: joycevalenza
    twitter: @joycevalenza
    NeverEndingSearch (School Library Journal)