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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.

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Two important intellectual freedom events at the ALA conference in Washington DC

  • 1.  Two important intellectual freedom events at the ALA conference in Washington DC

    Posted 11 days ago

    Dear IFRT members,

    I'm writing to let you know about two important intellectual freedom events that will be happening at the upcoming ALA conference in Washington DC.

    As most of you know, the right to engage in political boycotts is under attack in the US. Even though federal courts in five states have found them unconstitutional, 32 states have passed laws penalizing boycotts of Israel, and federal bills that would  penalize or condone the penalization of these boycotts are now before Congress. Additionally, copycat legislation penalizing boycotts of fossil fuels and firearms have been introduced recently in several states and have passed in a few. Furthermore, there is extensive evidence that  this legislation is directly impacting many-and a growing number-of libraries.

    The Social Responsibilities Round Table is bringing this issue before the annual ALA conference. We are introducing a "Resolution in Defense of the Right to Engage in Political Boycotts." The resolution is attached to this message, along with a document that provides additional background. We have submitted the resolution to the IFRT Executive Committee for an endorsement and are encouraging IFRT members to attend  the ALA Membership Meeting at 10- 11:30 AM in the Marriott Marquis, Liberty Ballroom where there will be a membership vote on the resolution.

    The next day, Sunday June 26 1:00-2:00 PM in the Washington Convention Center, 147B SRRT is sponsoring a program on the issue, "Libraries, Free Speech, and Anti-Boycott Laws," which will address the direct effect on free speech for libraries-and on free speech more generally- of recent anti-boycott laws. Speakers will include Luna Martinez, a Bertha Justice Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Alan Leveritt, publisher of the Arkansas Times, which refused to comply with  a state law that punishes businesses that refuse to sign a pledge promising not to boycott Israel. I will speak briefly on how this legislation is currently affecting libraries. Additionally, we will show a clip of the new film "Boycott" by the award-winning filmmaker Julia Bacha and will hear a message to the conference from Brian Hauss, a staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project.

     We hope many of you can make it to both events!

    Tom Twiss