American Libraries: Still Chilling: Censorship Beyond Banned Books

Challenges to nonbook resources are on the rise


 June 23, 2019

While Banned Books Week is well known, and ALA and the Office for Intellectual Freedom are old hands at fighting challenges to books, nonbook resources are increasingly coming under fire. All of the panelists in Censorship Beyond Banned Books have had to face these issues—and they shared their tips, tricks and tools with the audience.

Kristin Pekoll, Assistant Director of ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) began the session by announcing that OIF had recorded 531 affected items in 2018—which is a step beyond just challenges. These items included books films, board games, video games, magazines and much more.

Sarah Ward, outreach librarian at Hunter College Libraries in New York City, reported that in ten and a half years, she had has a few different issues with intellectual freedom. It wasn’t until the 2016 election that she started seeing challenges from the inside, though. Ward got pushback from certain staff members for posting anything with the slightest whiff of controversy on social media, including a banned books display by a student and a “What Comes Next” post-election guide. Ward talked about being tenured and how she uses that security to advocate and push back against intellectual freedom challenges.