Advancing IDEAs: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, 2023 June 27

The following  post is one in a regular series on issues of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility, compiled by Jay Weitz.

“New Actions to Protect LGBTQI+ Communities”

On June 8, the White House issued a Fact Sheet: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Announces New Actions to Protect LGBTQI+ Communities, which included the appointment of a new U.S. Department of Education (OCLC Symbol: ERICP) Office for Civil Rights coordinator who will be responsible for defending the rights of LGBTQI+ students and other underserved communities against book bans. On the same day, ALA President Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada responded, saying in part, “There is no room in libraries for discrimination. ALA supports local libraries in resisting attempts to ban books by and about the experience of LGBTQIA+ persons.” ALA’s statement, “American Library Association Welcomes White House Actions to Address Book Bans,” also calls attention to the United Against Book Bans national initiative to support libraries and their communities in opposing challenges to information access.

“30 of the Best Queer Movies of the Past 100 Years”

June is Pride Month, but the calendar doesn’t dictate when, where, or how pride may be acknowledged or celebrated. Lifehacker film writer Ross Johnson lists “30 of the Best Queer Movies of the Past 100 Years,” from Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1924 “Michael” to Yann Gonzalez’s 2019 “Knife + Heart.” Johnson notes, “I’m trying to avoid queer coding in favor of movies with aboveboard queer characters and content,” but has furthermore tended to favor lesser-known over better-known films. That makes the list especially good for library collection development beyond the obvious.

FTRF challenges Texas book ban

To follow up on the the “Advancing IDEAs” item from 2022 May 17, “Library users fight book bans in Texas,” the ALA-affiliated Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) filed a friend of the court brief that challenges the removal of books from the Llano County Library (OCLC Symbol: LLCLS) by the Llano County government as a violation of the First Amendment. “Freedom to Read Foundation Files Amicus Brief in Support of Llano County Texans’ Lawsuit Challenging County’s Library Book Censorship,” reports ALA’s Public Policy and Advocacy (PPA) News and Press Center. “FTRF’s brief explains that librarians are guided by well-established ethical canons and standards that favor no party, subject, or viewpoint when curating a public library collection, and that assuring access to a broad range of information and ideas is in the highest tradition of public libraries and librarians. The brief further argues that as a matter of professional ethics and the law, no public library may target certain books for removal or restriction because they may be unpopular, controversial, or outside the mainstream.”

Practicing cultural humility in libraries

Even if you have not attended the 2023 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, you can read the two-part blog post by the trio of editors of ALA Editions’ Hopeful Visions, Practical Actions: Cultural Humility in Library Work. Sarah R. Kostelecky, Director of Digital Initiatives and Scholarly Communication; Lori Townsend, Learning Services Coordinator and Engineering Librarian; and David A. Hurley, Web and Discovery Librarian, all at the University of New Mexico Libraries (OCLC Symbol: IQU), write about “navigating interpersonal interactions in libraries, whether between patrons and staff or staff members with one another.” Part One of their post “Cultural Humility: Elements of Practice” defines the notion as “an approach to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) that helps us recognize and redress structural issues and power differentials that interfere with providing good library service to all.” They continue in Part Two, “Cultural Humility: More Elements of Practice,” about the part played by mutual recognition and appreciation of others in interaction with the world, reducing harm, and making things better.

Resources and services for immigrants and refugees

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) (OCLC Symbol: GPO) presents the free and timely webinar “Libraries Helping Refugees and New Immigrants Learn the U.S. Financial System” on 2023 July 13 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. Emily Mross, Business Librarian and Library Outreach Coordinator at Penn State University, Harrisburg (OCLC Symbol: PU9); Ken McDonnell, Financial Education Program Analyst at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (OCLC Symbol: DCCFP); Julie Robinson, Refuge and Immigrant Services and Empowerment Outreach Manager of Missouri’s Kansas City Public Library (OCLC Symbol: KCP); and Young Park, Manager of Popular Library at the Chicago Public Library (OCLC Symbol: CGP), will talk about reliable financial literacy resources and related services for immigrants and refugees that libraries can provide for free.

Book challenges rejected in North Carolina

In early June, the Raleigh, North Carolina, News and Observer reported that 189 challenges to twenty books had been filed in May by the Wake County chapter of the national Moms for Liberty, the website of which defines its mission to be “dedicated to fighting for the survival of America by unifying, educating and empowering parents to defend their parental rights at all levels of government.” The Wake County Public School System rejected all of the challenges, so the books will remain in the libraries. According to the News and Observer report, the system’s recently updated policy states that school-level challenges may be filed only by parents who have children in that specific school.

Anti-book banning training webinars

During June, July, and August 2023, the nonprofit “national political action committee for libraries” EveryLibrary Institute will make available twelve free webinars, “Fighting for the First Amendment: Anti-book banning training series.” The series encourages citizens “to stand up and push back against the well organized groups who are fighting to deny your right to read and control information in your community.” Among the titles are: “Limiting Access to Library Materials Destroys Freedom;” “Some Thoughts On Religiously Based Censorship;” “Power, Control, and Fear: Eight Historical Tenets of Censorship;” “How to Run for Local Office;” “Delegitimizing Censorship: Countering Anti-Democratic Rhetoric;” “Freedom to Parent 21st Century Kids;” and “Teaching the Policy, Law, and Politics of Information.”

“Banned Books and Censorship”

All fourteen videos from the free virtual Library 2.023 mini-conference, “Banned Books and Censorship: Current Intellectual Freedom Issues in the Library,” which was noted in the 2023 May 30 “Advancing IDEAs” under the heading “Current intellectual freedom issues,” are now available on YouTube. Organized by the Learning Revolution Project, the mini-conference took place on June 8, 2023. Among the presentations are: “How Can Feminism Help Librarians Confront Authoritarianism in the Twenty-First Century;” “Library-Organized Events and Progressive/Conservative Polarization;” “The Politics of Nativist Censorship Efforts;” and “Reinforcing Institutional Resiliency Through Multidimensional Library Neutrality.”

Banning book bans

On June 12, 2023, Illinois became the first U.S. state to ban book bans when Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill saying that public libraries must adopt the ALA Library Bill of Rights or their own equivalent policy in order to be eligible for state funds. Among other points, the Library Bill of Rights states, “Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias said, “The concept of banning books contradicts the very essence of what our country stands for. It also defies what education is all about: teaching our children to think for themselves.” In “Illinois outlaws book bans in public libraries,” CNN reported on the record number of book challenges and the current wave of laws designed to limit resources available in school and public libraries.