We read about this more and more every day: a parent or group has challenged library materials. As members of the AASL/ALSC/YALSA Interdivisional Committee on School and Public Library Cooperation, we offer here a few coping strategies and hope that you, the reader, will offer some of your own.
Have Current Policies
Make sure your selection and reconsideration policies are up-to-date, comprehensive, and easily accessible. They dictate your work and advocacy, in addition to reminding you that any challenge is not about the book or about you, it is about the policy. ALA’s Selection & Reconsideration Policy Toolkit for Public, School, & Academic Libraries can help you refocus, update, and strengthen your policies.
Develop Support Systems
A support system of allies and coalitions to support your policies is paramount. The challenges we are seeing require us to inspire our patrons, clients, and partners to speak up on our behalf. Do you have elevator speeches and talking points, have you shared them with your allies and coalitions? Two excellent resources to guide you on these points are ALA’s Fight Censorship page (Challenge Preparedness, Support for Library Workers, State and Local Resources, Books and Webinars, Social Media Tools, Additional Resources) and United Against Book Bans Tool Kit (Talking Points, Contact Decision Makers, Contact Media, Grassroots Organizing, Social Media Tools, Branded Materials).
Know You Are Not Alone!
Knowing you are not alone, and that others have gone through similar challenges, really helps manage some of the stress and find what can work well in your particular community. A few worthwhile reads:
- Feb 2022 article: What’s It Like to Be the Target of A Book Banning Effort? School Librarian Martha Hickson Tells Her Story.(New Jersey)
- Sep 2022 article: How to beat a book ban: students, parents and librarians fight back (North Hunterdon high school in Annandale, New Jersey) (Round Rock school district, near Austin, Texas) (Milford, Ohio).
- Nov 2022 article on continuing legal battles by Amanda Jones, a school librarian for Live Oak Middle School in Livingston Parish, LA, targeted for her support of her local public library
Share Your Resources!
Do you have any other excellent resources you have found useful? We want to know! Please submit them at bit.ly/ALAShare23
Author: AASL/ALSC/YALSA Joint Committee on School Library/Public Library Cooperation
Categories: Intellectual Freedom