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The Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) provides a forum for the discussion of activities, programs, and problems in intellectual freedom of libraries and librarians.

The IFRT Members Community group is the central hub for discussion, library and events. It is visible to all ALA members but only IFRT members can participate in the conversation.

  • 1.  DPLA Launches Banned Books Club

    Posted Jul 21, 2023 11:59 AM

    Hi all,

    You might want to start here for a list of places that have outright banned books.  One Maryland location has, alas, made the list. The list is not complete but will be updated. TheBannedBookClub.info

    The banned books can be read in the geographic areas they are located (but not all areas) in the Palace App through a free virtual card. See details below.

    9 Maryland systems have the Palace app, but you don't have to provide access to the books yourselves. The virtual card should work. Local libraries might see significant community pushback by offering directly (though of course you may, if you want) whereas the DPLA is more immune.

    Questions, please ask,


    From: Micah May <micah@dp.la>
    Sent: Thursday, July 20, 2023 1:37 PM
    To: Michael Blackwell <mblackwell@stmalib.org>
    Subject: For ReadersFirst list? -- Fwd: DPLA launches The Banned Book Club to ensure access to banned books


    ---------- Forwarded message ---------
    From: Digital Public Library of America <info@dp.la>
    Date: Thu, Jul 20, 2023 at 11:04 AM
    Subject: DPLA launches The Banned Book Club to ensure access to banned books
    To: <micah@dp.la>

    Readers in communities affected by book bans can now access banned books for free via Palace e-reader app

    View this email in your browser

    DPLA launches The Banned Book Club to ensure access to banned books

    Readers in communities affected by book bans can now access banned books for free via Palace e-reader app

    Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) has launched The Banned Book Club to ensure that all readers have access to the books they want to read. The Banned Book Club makes e-book versions of banned books available to readers in locations across the United States where titles have been banned. The e-books will be available to readers for free via the Palace e-reader app.

    "At DPLA, our mission is to ensure access to knowledge for all and we believe in the power of technology to further that access," said John S. Bracken, executive director of Digital Public Library of America. "Today book bans are one of the greatest threats to our freedom, and we have created The Banned Book Club to leverage the dual powers of libraries and digital technology to ensure that every American can access the books they want to read."

    Utilizing GPS-based geo-targeting, DPLA has established virtual libraries in communities across the United States where books have been banned. When a reader is within a community served by a library that has been forced to ban a book, they can visit TheBannedBookClub.info to see the exact books have been banned in their area. Then, they can download that book for free on any handheld device via the free Palace e-reader app.

    Earlier today former president Barack Obama and the Obama Foundation shared their support for the Banned Book Club initiative and its mission to provide individuals with the power and access to obtain literature that is thought-provoking, educational, and eye-opening, allowing them to learn more about the world. Their support will help to expand awareness of how people can access banned books within their communities and connect people through literature.

    To access The Banned Book Club now, download the Palace app and choose "Banned Book Club" as your library, then follow the prompts to sign up for a free virtual library card. For more specific instructions, click here. For more information on The Banned Book Club, readers can visit TheBannedBookClub.info.

    Digital Public Library of America amplifies the value of libraries and cultural organizations as trusted sources of shared knowledge. DPLA fulfills its mission by collaborating with partners to accelerate the adoption of innovative tools and ideas to empower and equip libraries in making public information more accessible. DPLA's e-book work is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. To learn more, visit www.dp.la.

    The Palace Project is a suite of content, services, and tools for the delivery of ebooks, audiobooks, and other digital media to benefit public libraries and their patrons. Funded by a multi-year, multi-million dollar investment from the Knight Foundation, The Palace Project is a division of Lyrasis, working in strategic partnership with Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). To learn more, visit thepalaceproject.org.

    Copyright (C) 2023 Digital Public Library of America. All rights reserved.
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    Michael Blackwell
    St Mary's County Library

  • 2.  RE: DPLA Launches Banned Books Club

    Posted Jul 22, 2023 09:41 AM

    "Moms for Liberty"

    Gene Lyons, Chicago Sun-times:

    Something tells me I've seen this movie before. Back in my own elementary school days, we read about Dick and Jane. Even at that tender age, it was clear to me that they were Protestants and Republicans, although I had only the foggiest idea what those things were.

    Dick and Jane lived out in white-bread America, where there were no corner taverns in which Grandpa spent his afternoons, and nobody's grandma spoke Yiddish or Italian in the home. People didn't keep spittoons in the front room, and it all seemed kind of boring, actually.

    On TV, there was something called the Army-McCarthy hearings, where the nation was being saved from Communist subversion, the white-bread version of monsters under the bed. That struck a child as pretty silly. Who believed in monsters?

    So now we have this bunch called Moms for Liberty, yet another iteration of white-bread America's fear and hostility toward anything more unsettling than "Leave It to Beaver." This time, it's queers under the bed and the preposterous idea that the nation's public-school librarians and grade-school teachers are plotting the sexual subversion of small children.

    (I think I was maybe 10 when I first noticed that my teacher, Miss Peach, was kind of cute, but that's another story.)

    Back in the '70s, when a former Miss Oklahoma named Anita Bryant and the Rev. Jerry Falwell were running a similar scam, they used to say that because "homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children ... they must recruit our children." That's not actually true, of course, but it sounded right to a lot of yokels.

    But back to the Moms. I love how they call it "Liberty" when they're demanding censorship and conformity. In Florida, where the group got started - a well-financed uprising about as spontaneous as a "Ron DeSantis for President" committee - they resembled a coven of spokesmodels auditioning for a spot on a Fox News couch, trolling for the network's core audience of angry old men.

    Florida's authoritarian little governor passed a law forbidding K-3 teachers from talking about homosexuality - and why would they? Unless, of course, somebody in the class has two mommies. Then teacher's put on the spot, but needn't get clinical about it.

    But I digress. DeSantis has also passed laws pretty much forbidding even college professors from hinting that maybe Black Floridians haven't always gotten a fair shake in the Sunshine and Slave Market State.

    The Moms would probably call that "Liberty" too.

    Fact is, sexual puritanism is a prominent feature of authoritarian movements everywhere - left and right. Indeed, Moms for Liberty greatly resembles Big Brother's Junior Anti-Sex League from George Orwell's prophetic novel "1984."

    "Not love so much as eroticism was the enemy," Orwell wrote. "Sexual intercourse was to be looked on as a slightly disgusting minor operation, like having an enema."

    Winston and Julia's love affair temporarily makes them feel free: "Desire was thoughtcrime ... Their embrace had been a battle, the climax a victory. It was a blow struck against the Party. It was a political act."

    Then comes the voice from the hidden video screen in their rented hideaway in the slums: "You are the dead."

    Busted! It turned out that the landlord worked for the Thought Police. It's off to Room 101 for the unfortunate lovers.

    So anyway, here we go again. Out there in white-bread America, pretty much the same superstitious ninnies who stay worked up about the end times have begun besieging school boards and public libraries in search of sexual subversion. A recent Wall Street Journal article depicted Republican voters living on the edge of hysteria, with 80% telling pollsters that "the Democratic agenda, if not stopped, will destroy America as we know it."

    No less an authority than Kevin Roberts, president of the right-wing Heritage Foundation, told Journal reporters that it's almost too late: "We have lost our K-12 schools to radical-left activists. We've certainly lost our universities to the same, and other institutions," including large businesses and even churches. "Everyday Americans," he said, are being forced "to bend your knee to the rainbow flag."

    Oh, grow up. Faddishness aside, nobody but NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been punished for not bending his knee to a flag, and it sure as hell wasn't a rainbow banner. But it's all about control - the terrible fear that you, and people like you, are losing prestige and power, when all you're really being asked for is a bit of sympathetic understanding toward a group of fellow Americans who didn't choose their desires any more than did you or I.

    See, that's what's really scary to the authoritarian mind. People don't choose their sexuality; it chooses them.

    Gene Lyons is a National Magazine Award winner and co-author of "The Hunting of the President."

    Michael Gorman
    Chicago, Illinois

  • 3.  RE: DPLA Launches Banned Books Club

    Posted Jul 23, 2023 12:57 PM

    Thanks for the Sun-Times article, Michael. This is a very perceptive and well written piece. Glad to have read it.

    Sanford Holst