Intellectual Freedom Stories from the Frontline
Call for Essays
You are invited to participate in a new book that will be published by the American Library Association. The book is a collection of stories from and about librarians who have experienced challenges to library material and/or challenges to intellectual freedom. The book has the current working title: Intellectual Freedom Stories from the Frontline.
The book is an anthology of stories from all library types. Stories will address examples of censorship challenges related to (but not limited to): religious intolerance, prisoner rights, Black Lives Matter, anti-immigrant sentiment, international challenges, politics, working with culturally sensitive material, weeding as a form of censorship, self-censorship, displays, intellectual freedom, dis-invited speakers, trigger warnings, Me Too, meeting room uses, or any other censorship topic you have experienced in a library or related to library material and/or programming.
We are also very interested in hearing the voices of librarians from countries outside of the United States. What do library challenges look like in your country? What challenges are librarians in your community experiencing? Does your government control what can and cannot be on the shelves of your library?
While the initial deadline for stories has passed, we are still seeking stories in specific areas. Please contact us if you have stories to tell in these areas:
- Protecting the intellectual freedom of homeless patrons
- Ways the Black Lives Matter Movement has impacted your library
- How the #MeToo Movement has impacted your library
- Protecting the intellectual freedom of people who are incarcerated
- Are libraries neutral when it comes to intellectual freedom? How are you considering this as a librarian? Is your library actively engaged in some kind of change related to this topic?
- Does intellectual freedom protect power structures that should be dismantled? How are you considering this as a librarian? Is your library actively engaged in some kind of change related to this topic?
There are two ways to participate: Write an essay or volunteer to be interviewed.
Essays should be no more than 2500 words in length, and should provide details of a full experience, from initial contact through ultimate resolution. Essays can be a first person narrative or a case study description. I am also seeking descriptions of interactions that may not have ended in a formal challenge or request for reconsideration. These anecdotes should reflect the concerns of either the patron or the librarian or both.
Tips on writing: Explain the situation and how you were involved. How was the issue resolved? What lessons were learned? What resources did you draw upon (don’t list resources; describe the resources and why they were helpful)? Had you received any training on handling challenges prior to the situation you describe? Have you received any since? Did your library have a procedure in place? If not, does it have one now? What did you learn from the experience? What advice would you give to someone in a similar situation? Were policies added or changed because of this incident?
Writers should include the facts of the challenge. If this is information based on a personal experience, please share your thoughts and feelings about the confrontation, dealing with administrators, and dealing with the public.
Your submissions should be submitted with the following information:
1. Essay Title.
2. 100 word biographical statement.
Your submissions should follow these formatting rules
**We will work on formatting the work submitted by librarians outside of the United States. Do not let language skills and/or formatting questions prevent you from submitting.
1. Text should be attached as a .doc and sent to email@example.com
2. Your name should be the document label (example JaneSmith.doc)
3. If you have questions about style, please consult The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, as your general guide to punctuation, capitalization, quotation, abbreviation, source citation, use of italic, etc.
Submitting an essay does not guarantee publication.
If you have questions about your essay and/or topic, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributors will be asked to sign an Writer Agreement before publication.
Deadline: We are still accepting stories. Contact us if you have a story idea.
If you would prefer to be interviewed about your experience, send me an email with a description of the experience. Please provide links and/or attachments to any material that will provide additional background on the situation.
I look forward to hearing from you!
About the Book
This book will be an anthology of stories written by librarians in all positions in libraries; from circulation desk workers to library directors and library board members. The book will include stories from all types of libraries. Some of the special libraries that I would like to have represented in the book include prison libraries and libraries serving specific cultural groups.
I will seek stories from international libraries. Libraries in Europe are confronting problems with censorship related to religious oppression and immigration. These stories will add perspective to similar issues that libraries in the United States are confronting.
The stories in this book will be first-hand narratives told primarily by librarians who are working face-to-face with patrons or groups that are challenging library material and/or programming.
Writers are encouraged to discuss both the positive and difficult circumstances that they encountered throughout the process of working through the censorship challenge. Writers should share details about the issues they had to overcome and the lessons learned along the way. Writers can also share how the incident has impacted their career.
Join the mailing list for more information about this project.