Intellectual Freedom Stories from a Shifting Landscape—eEditions e-book

The download link for this product can be found on the final confirmation screen after you complete your purchase, and may also be accessed from your Account Profile. For more information about ALA eEditions file types and how to view them on eReaders, desktop computers, and other devices, see this page.

ALA Member
Item Number
ALA Editions

Primary tabs

You don't need to be an ALA Member to purchase from the ALA Store, but you'll be asked to create an online account/profile during the checkout to proceed. This Web Account is for both Members and non-Members. 

If you are Tax-Exempt, please verify that your account is currently set up as exempt before placing your order, as our new fulfillment center will need current documentation. Learn how to verify here.

  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the authors
  • Reviews

Intellectual freedom is a complex concept that democracies and free societies around the world define in different ways but always strive to uphold. And ALA has long recognized the crucial role that libraries play in protecting this right. But what does it mean in practice? How do library workers handle the ethical conundrums that often accompany the commitment to defending it? Rather than merely laying out abstract policies and best practices, this important new collection gathers real-world stories of intellectual freedom in action to illuminate the difficulties, triumphs, and occasional setbacks of advocating for free and equal access to information for all people in a shifting landscape. Offering insight to LIS students and current practitioners on how we can advance the profession of librarianship while fighting censorship and other challenges, these personal narratives explore such formidable situations as

  • presenting drag queen story times in rural America;
  • a Black Lives Matter “die-in” at the undergraduate library of the University of Wisconsin-Madison;
  • combating censorship at a prison library;
  • hosting a moderated talk about threats to modern democracy that included a neo-Nazi spokesman;
  • a provocative exhibition that triggered intimidating phone calls, emails, and a threat to burn down an art library;  
  • calls to eliminate non-Indigenous children’s literature from the collection of a tribal college library; and
  • preserving patrons’ right to privacy in the face of an FBI subpoena.

These stories provide a rich platform for debate and introspection by sharing real-world examples that library staff, administrators, board members, and students can consider and discuss.  

Check out this book's companion website now!

Examination copies are available for instructors who are interested in adopting this title for course use.

Foreword: Storytelling for Advocacy, by Janice Del Negro
Introduction: Advocating for Intellectual Freedom through Storytelling

Part I        Protected by Policy
Chapter 1    Give Them Library Cards!
Carrie Valdes

Chapter 2    The Vitruvian Man and a Threat to Burn Down the Art Library
Megan Lotts

Chapter 3    Adventures in Book Court
Sandra Parks

Reflection Questions for Part I

Part II         Public Events
Chapter 4    Black Lives Matter Die-In: Library Space as an Intellectual Freedom Issue
Raina Bloom and Carrie Kruse

Chapter 5    Exposing a Community: Drag Queen Storytime in Rural America
Jennifer Stickles

Chapter 6    Did We Just Normalize Extreme Views and Make the Library an Unsafe Place?
Daniel Forsman

Reflection Questions for Part II

Part III    Difficult Conversations
Chapter 7    A Library’s Response(ability) in #MeToo
Leah Shlachter

Chapter 8    Promoting Intellectual Freedom through a Social Book Group
James Allen Davis and Hadiya Evans

Reflection Questions for Part III

Part IV    Institutional Decisions
Chapter 9    The Storage Closet
Shana Chartier

Chapter 10    The Fox and the Hedgehog: When Libraries are behind Bars
Erin Boyington

Chapter 11    Widely Read Teens Become Well-Rounded Adults
Lisa Hoover

Chapter 12    Y Colorín Colorado, Este Cuento Se Ha Acabado [Snip, Snap, Snout, This Tale’s Told Out]
Carme Fenoll Clarabuch

Reflection Questions for Part IV

Part V        Patrons Challenging Material
Chapter 13    Transgender Children’s Books in the Public Library
Tom Taylor

Chapter 14    Restoring EBSCO: The Power of Coalition and Rapid Response
Rebekah Cummings and Peter Bromberg

Chapter 15    “Bullshit Hatred from Cover to Cover”: Islamophobia in The Age of Trump
Lorena Neal

Chapter 16    Anywhere USA
Joan Airoldi

Reflection Questions for Part V

Part VI    Cultural Sensitivity
Chapter 17    “Just Get Rid of Them”: American Indian Children’s Literature in the Tribal College Library
Rhiannon Sorrell

Chapter 18    Censorship and Sensibility
Lara Aase

Reflection Questions for Part VI

Conclusion: The Work Continues
About the Contributors

Valerie Nye

Valerie Nye is the Library Director at the Santa Fe Community College. She previously worked as a library director at the Institute of American Indian Arts and as a library consultant at the New Mexico State Library, where she started researching and training others on intellectual freedom and banned books. She has coedited a book with Kathy Barco, True Stories of Censorship Battles in America’s Libraries, and a literary research guide with R. Neil Scott, Postmarked Milledgeville: A Guide to Flannery O'Connor's Correspondence in Libraries and Archives. She currently serves on the board of Amigos Library Services and holds an MLIS from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF)

ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) is charged with implementing the intellectual freedom policies of the American Library Association through educating librarians and the public about the concept of intellectual freedom as embodied in the Library Bill of Rights, the Association's basic policy on free access to libraries and library materials. In order to meet its educational goals, the Office undertakes information, support, and coordination activities.

"These stories provide lived examples from banned book challenges to drag queen story time to a Black Lives Matter die-in and much more. They will spur librarians to reflect on the programs they have organized and give them ideas for future programming and responding to community backlash ... The conclusion asks readers to share their stories around intellectual freedom and librarianship as an ongoing project. Now more than ever, librarians should use their libraries to mobilize change, and they must continue to listen to and learn from one another."

"The depth and breadth of case studies described in this book illustrate the many ways in which librarians must grapple with complex intellectual freedom challenges in all areas of their work. Even in the cases which may be more familiar to readers like book challenges, the case studies provide useful examples of policies and procedures to follow when encountering these intellectual freedom challenges ... [This is] an important book for current times as threats to intellectual freedom continue to be a concern for all in librarianship and in the wider world. "
— Against the Grain