Protect Your Rights

Top Ten (Eleven) Challenged Books list announced

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The American Library Association condemns censorship and works to ensure free access to information. Every year, the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles a list of the Top Ten Most Challenged Books in order to inform the public about censorship in libraries and schools. The lists are based on information from media stories and voluntary challenge reports sent to OIF from communities across the United States.

The Top Ten lists are only a snapshot of book challenges. Surveys indicate that 82-97% of book challenges – documented requests to remove materials from schools or libraries – remain unreported and receive no media.

Sometimes OIF receives information as the challenge is happening; other times OIF receives an online report years later. This affects the total number of challenges reported in any given year. Thus the Top Ten Most Challenged Books list should not be viewed as an exhaustive report.

Advocating before the election

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When it comes to advocacy for libraries, we often focus on communicating with officials who have already been elected. We may go to Capitol Hill in May for National Library Legislative Day or to our state legislatures during budget appropriation season.

But what would it look like to reach out to the would-be political decision makers before the election? I tried an experiment to find out.

My home state of Maryland had a very competitive open primary for county and state government on June 26. I emailed candidates for several county offices to ask their views on libraries. My email went something like this:

Librarians leading the way during times of rapid social change

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2017 was a lively year for libraries.

National issues and trends impacted our nation’s libraries, and librarians rose to the challenge, promoting media literacy, protecting the freedom to read, advocating for equity, diversity and inclusion and responding to the needs of their patrons.

At the beginning of the year, librarians were quite literally on the front lines, many of them participating in the Women’s March on Washington in Atlanta in January.

Throughout the year, they continued to advocate, with more than 500 librarians participating in National Legislative Day on May 1-2 in Washington, D.C. It was a time when the proposed federal budget threatened to wipe out the Institute of Museum and Library Services, an important source of funding for library programs.

Recently retired ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels said in his opening statement at the Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel, “Libraries are facing the challenge of a lifetime, if this funding can be done away with at the stroke of a pen. This is the time when the rubber hits the road.”

Celebrating the Freedom to Know

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James Madison once wrote that a “popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps, both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Madison, who is recognized as the “Father of the Constitution” and a staunch advocate of open government, is honored each year on his birthday, March 16, which is celebrated as National Freedom of Information Day.

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