Prepared Libraries, Empowered Teams: A Workbook for Navigating Intellectual Freedom Challenges Together

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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the authors

Foreword by Steven D. Yates

Whether a book challenge is upon you, on the horizon, in your rearview mirror, or not yet in sight, now is the time to start envisioning what a challenge-ready team looks like in your organization. This unique workbook will equip you and your colleagues with the tools and resources to tailor a challenge preparedness action plan to the needs of your library and community.

Preliminary data for 2023 from ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) shows an all-time high number of book challenges, shattering the previous record set only the year before. Anticipating and preparing for challenges can only be done effectively when the library has a unified team. This workbook will help library directors and managers at all types of libraries ensure that all members of their staff understand the essential role they have to play when challenges arise. Simultaneously, it will guide you towards managing the stress of the circumstances with lessened impact on team well-being and organizational reputation. Solo librarians will also find resources for coalition-building in the absence of library colleagues within their institution. Assisting you as a library worker in creating your own challenge readiness roadmap, this workbook

  • surveys the national intellectual freedom landscape, then guides you through a review of your current circumstances, structures, and team member strengths;
  • provides considerations for developing strong policies and procedures on which your action plan rests;
  • shares recommendations for gathering team input and building team capacity at every step of the way;
  • includes planning templates, strategies, checklists, and suggested scripts to assist in co-constructing a unified approach with your team;
  • identifies methods for developing deep knowledge of your organization’s selection policy in your team members;
  • uses a conflict mediation perspective to show how to de-escalate tense conversations involving patrons, members of the community, and team members;
  • outlines best practices for communication and capacity-building in the face of all manner of challenges, helping you stay clear and intentional in your interactions with stakeholders; and
  • includes numerous real-world examples of different book challenges, showing how this approach to team preparedness can be applied.

Foreword, Steven D. Yates
Introduction: Navigating Preparedness Planning

Part I - Words to Live By: Initializing the Challenge Readiness Plan
Chapter 1 - Surveying the Current Landscape
Chapter 2 – Identifying Existing Structures and Resources for Success
Chapter 3 - Evaluating and Strengthening Your Policy Foundation 

Part II - Words into Action: Operationalizing the Challenge Readiness Plan
Chapter 4 - Readying Your Team for Cohesive Action
Chapter 5 – Designing and Launching the Action Plan 
Chapter 6 - Establishing and Training for A Response Mindset  

Part III - Words Take Flight: Systematizing the Challenge Readiness Plan
Chapter 8 - Planning for Clear Communication with All Stakeholders
Chapter 7 – Systems for Ongoing Readiness and Capacity Building
Chapter 9 – Applying Your Plan to Various Scenarios

Conclusion: Prepared and Empowered to Defend
Appendix: Conflict Mediation and Team Building Resources
About the Authors

Becky Calzada

Becky Calzada is the district library coordinator of the Leander (TX) Independent School District. She is also a cofounding member of Texas #FReadom Fighters and is the president-elect of the AASL for 2024–25. She was selected for ALA’s fourth Policy Corps cohort, works as a member of the Policy Corps’ cadre for Proactive Advocacy on Book Banning, and is a member of ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee. Becky is the recipient of several intellectual freedom awards and was honored by People magazine in their 2023 Women Changing the World portfolio.

Val Edwards

Val Edwards is the library team leader in the Madison (WI) Metropolitan School District. She has experience working in a variety of library settings. Val has trained as a conflict mediator and published articles in both library/education and business publications. She has served on several ALA/AASL/ Core committees, was the AASL division councilor, and a past chair of the Core Library Consulting Interest Group, and currently serves on the AASL’s Bylaws & Organization Committee.

Maegan Coffin Heindel

Maegan Coffin Heindel is the library services coordinator for the Madison (WI) Metropolitan School District. Her background includes both school librarianship and classroom teaching. She is an alum of ALA’s Emerging Leader program and served as the AASL’s Learning4Life coordinator for Wisconsin. A frequent conference presenter, Maegan has held multiple positions in the Wisconsin Educational Media and Technology Association and the CCBC’s Friends Board. Maegan is currently a member of the CCBC’s Charlotte Zolotow Award Committee.