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Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week is upon us—one of the times of the year where librarians educate our populations about censorship and the freedom to read. Interestingly, in the current climate, there have been calls to ban books based not on their content, but on the character of the authors of the books. The #MeToo movement is upon us, and now there are calls to remove books by popular authors who have faced allegations of sexual harassment. The ALA’s 2017 list of most frequently challenged books is topped by two such authors who have faced allegations. The two books, Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why and Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian were on the list prior to the public allegations. Librarian listservs and discussion groups were abuzz after the allegations came forward about whether collecting these books is an endorsement of these authors. In short, it’s not. In the ALA’s Freedom to Read Statement, it affirms: “It is contrary to the public interest for . . . librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history . . . of the author.”

During Banned Books week and all year long that librarians are champions of intellectual freedom. It is our responsibility not only to champion the cause of fighting censorship, but also to educate our patrons about their freedom to read and make sure that our own policies and practices do not perpetuate biases in our libraries. It is also very important to report efforts of censorship, both successful and unsuccessful, by filling out this form from the American Library Association. Remember the theme from this year’s Banned Books Week: “Banning books silences stories. Speak out!”

If intellectual freedom issues or questions come up in your library, please contact the committee or office.

Chad Heck, School Librarian, Pike High School-Freshman Campus
Co-Chair, ILF Ad Hoc Committee on Intellectual Freedom 

Fun committee and the "conference experience"

Annual conference registration time is upon us again. This will be my fourth annual ILF conference and as I look forward to it I am also reflecting on the first conference I attended as a new-comer. Four years ago I moved to Indiana from Wisconsin and I didn’t know anyone or have any connections. My first annual conference came just a few months after my move and I was anxious about the experience. Would I be able to talk to people? Would they welcome me? Would I feel left out? Would I know what to do and where to go?

I can honestly say that the conference experience that I had was overwhelmingly wonderful. Everyone was friendly, the conference was excellent, and I walked away feeling like I was truly a part of Indiana libraries. I had the chance to meet library people from all over the spectrum. I formed relationships with academic, school, and public libraries that last to this day. The next spring brought regional conferences and even more opportunities to meet people and learn new things. I felt so welcomed throughout these experiences that I immediately took the opportunity to present at conferences, become part of the management division, and eventually become part of the ILF Board.

I always take every opportunity that I can to attend ILF sponsored conferences, or to send my staff to them. Be it the annual conference, regional conferences, Youth Services Division conference, Fall Forum, or even the online virtual exchanges; I have always found value in ILF Professional Development opportunities. We always come back from conference energized with new ideas and new skills.

This year we are aiming to make the annual conference an even better experience as we roll out our first ever ‘fun committee’.  Zionsville’s Sarah Moore and I are going to be hosting a trivia night on Tuesday night that will be free for everyone. We are also planning fun games and activities throughout the conference.

I urge you to take advantage of all of the offerings that are available to you at the annual conference from educational sessions to networking opportunities to dinners to the fun new offerings.

Please come and be a part of our Indiana Library Federation family. We are looking forward to seeing you all.

Beka Lemons, ILF Board Member
Director, Huntington City-Township Public Library 

 

Over the last week, you may have received an email from ILF with links to the preliminary draft of the school library census report.  In case you did not receive it or if you overlooked it here is the link to access the full report. (Links to original draft  were removed as final report was completed.)

 

The ILF Board and AISLE Advisory Board request feedback before we finalize a report for a wider audience. I also invite you to contact me or any member of the ILF board with more extensive comments.  

 

The last six months have been filled with hard work by many ILF members trying to capture accurate information for this survey.  The census contains data from about 80% of public school districts in Indiana and many individual public, charter and private schools.  This is an amazing completion rate for surveys of this kind and is a testament to everyone involved.  The state of school libraries is changing daily, and has changed drastically over the last 10 years.  There have been recent posts and articles in the ALA Connect, AASL Knowledge Quest, and Ed Week about the reduction across the nation of school librarians.  All libraries are dependent upon the success of each other.  School age children need school librarians training them how to be information literate and showing them the importance of libraries not only to their future learning, but to democracy and our nation's prosperity.

 

For me, the report confirmed what many of us already knew in AISLE.  We have heard members worry about staff reductions, changing job titles and the adding of responsibilities.  There are so many changes to Indiana's education community with the increase in the number of schools going 1:1 with computer devices, the changing landscape of testing and the new "Graduation Pathways", and the ever looming clouds of letter grades and property tax referendums.  School librarians need the larger library community to help us show everyone that school libraries are important and that they are needed.

 

I invite you to read the report and respond with feedback.  ILF wants and needs you involved. Please send feedback to the ILF office by August 8. Then, look for next steps in following ILF newsletters. 

 

Diane Rogers
Media Specialist, Ben Davis Ninth Grade Center
AISLE Advisory Board Vice-Chair

 

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