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Idaho Library Association / Intellectual Freedom Newsletter

Idaho Library Association / Intellectual Freedom Newsletter

This text is taken from the PDF found at:   http://idaholibraries.org/intellectual-freedom-committee-newsletter/  Please check out the PDF to see the original formatting and to access all of the links.  (Well, actually, now the links have been added below too)


This is the first newsletter from your ILA Intellectual Freedom Committee for 2017. You will receive a quarterly newsletter from us that will summarize what is going on in the world of intellectual freedom. Anything to do with Idaho will get priority, but we want you to stay informed with what is going on throughout the country too!

If you have any comments or questions, please email Shalini Ramachandran at shaliniramachandran@boisestate.edu. And remember, we want to know what is going on in your library! Shoot us an email and let us know about any book challenges, concerns or activities in your area. All communication is confidential; we will consult you before talking to anyone else. Challenges can also be reported to the ALA national office, using this form.


Moeller, Katy. 2017. “5,000 attend Boise’s Women’s March.” The Idaho Statesman. Accessed January 25, 2017. http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/local/community/boise/article127984764.html.

Intellectual freedom and first amendment rights to expression and peaceful protest are important cornerstones of a democratic society. On Saturday, January 21, millions came together to exercise those rights in “Sister Marches.”

Marchers gathered around the world to represent issues at stake vis a vis the plans set forth by the new administration. Issues include a variety of concerns over human and civil rights, along with environment and freedom of information. Official marches were organized throughout the state of Idaho—in Boise, Driggs, Idaho Falls, Ketchum, Moscow, Pocatello, Sandpoint, and Stanley—with Boise’s march drawing a crowd of 5,000. Boise’s March was even mentioned in a variety of national news sources, including the Washington Post and New York Times.

According to the Women’s March on Washington website, a total of 673 marches took place around the world (in all 50 states, 80 countries, and all 7 continents), and the total number of demonstrators is estimated to be near 5 million (womensmarch.com/sisters).

Intellectual freedom empowers citizens to share information and to gather to participate in the formation of social and civil policies, without restriction or impediment. The Women’s Marches that took place around the country and world exemplify the integral place free speech and intellectual freedom occupies in the democratic process.


  • On January 30th, ALA President, Julie Todaro, released a statement responding to recent actions by the new administration and specifically addressing issues regarding access to information, discrimination and intellectual freedom. The statement began thus: “We are shocked and dismayed by recent executive orders and other actions by the new administration, which stand in stark contrast to the core values of the American Library Association (ALA). Our core values include access to information; confidentiality/privacy; democracy; equity, diversity and inclusion; intellectual freedom; and social responsibility.” The full text of the press release can be viewed here.
  • On January 25th, ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom put out a strongly worded press release condemning government censorship of national agencies amid reports that the new administration had ordered a blackout on the EPA and other governmental agencies speaking to the public or the press. The statement started by saying, “The American Library Association (ALA) has as one of its officially stated goals that it is the leading advocate for the public’s right to a free and open information society (Policy A.1.3). ALA opposes any use of governmental power to suppress the free and open exchange of knowledge and information (Policy B.8.5.1). Indeed, the principle of intellectual freedom – unfettered access to knowledge – is a core belief of our profession, as captured in the Library Bill of Rights.” Read the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom’s complete statement here and share your reaction on the ILA Facebook page!
  • The problem with student privacy, and how to protect it | School Library Journal.| Students should have two expectations of privacy, says Helen Adams, author of Protecting Intellectual Freedom and Privacy in Your School Library (ABC-CLIO, 2013). They should be able to come in and use the library’s resources and have no one looking over their shoulder. Whatever information they seek on that topic should remain private.
  • University of Pennsylvania librarians lead effort to save climate data from erasure. More than 250 people gathered at the University of Pennsylvania on Jan 13-14 for Data Rescue Philly, a grassroots effort to save environmental and climate change data that scientists fear could disappear because of the new administration’s ambivalence toward the scientific consensus on climate change. Bethany Wiggin, director of the Penn Program in the Environmental Humanities (PPEH), said that these concerns prompted PPEH and Penn Libraries to launch DataRefuge, which approaches the problem like a libraries project, placing “multiple copies [of data] in multiple places”.
  • ‘Joyful’ March for Life groups rally in D.C., despite some political differences.’ Christian Science Monitor. The article states, “Thousands of people gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on January 27th for the 44th March for Life, with many saying they feel renewed hope for the pro-life movement. But the post-election political climate could also change up traditional alliances.” The march, another expression of freedom of speech in the country’s capital, came a week after the Presidential Inauguration.
  • Are police searching inauguration protesters’ phones? | Citylab. A lawyer for several protesters arrested in inauguration protests on Friday claims that police appear to be mining information from mobile phones taken after they were detained raising concerns about privacy violations.


By Hailey Roberts, Meridian Library District

Wilson, Paula. 2017. “Librarian Takes It Off in the Stacks; Goes Viral.” Public Libraries Online. Accessed January 20, 2017. http://publiclibrariesonline.org/2017/01/librarian-takes-it-off-in-the-stacks-goes-viral/.

Fake news is a current buzzword, but a long-standing issue in journalism and public information. Read Paula Wilson’s “Librarian Takes It Off in the Stacks; Goes Viral” for an assessment of why “fake news” is (and has been) a problem, and what librarians can do to empower the public to filter through it.

Wilson reminds us to be wary of sensationalized statements and headlines, drawing a comparison between fake news and celebrity tabloids—both constructed to tickle the brain and make you just curious enough to read on. Oh, and turn a profit.

Our connected culture allows us to share information incredibly quickly. This is a great benefit. But, there are limits to the system, and the proliferation of information is often based on algorithms and advertising. If you don’t come across a piece of “news” because it was shared directly with you, you’ll probably run into it somewhere if you happen to be interested in any of the content’s subject matter.

Simply put: you can’t trust every article you encounter, even if it looks legitimate.
Wilson cites an article published by the BBC in December which profiles a group of teens in Macedonia who became rich by paying Facebook to promote their (plagiarized) fake news articles about the recent U.S. presidential election, which may or may not have swayed U.S. voter behavior.

The BBC article doesn’t make any estimates of how many people these fake articles reached, but the young writers earned substantial sums from advertising revenue after publishing. Wilson also refers us to a recently published study by the Stanford History Education Group which explores college students’ civic online reasoning skills, and claims that many experience difficulty in distinguishing credible sources from less savory ones among the flood of information.

Read “Librarian Takes It Off in the Stacks; Goes Viral” and join the conversation about what librarians can do to empower their communities to spot the red flags of fake news.


By Bette Ammon, Director, Coeur d’Alene Public Library

When I was a young adult librarian at the Pocatello Public Library (now Marshall Public Library) in the mid-1980s, “The Day They Came to Arrest the Book” by Nat Hentoff was fairly new. That was my first exposure to Hentoff. His depiction of the attempted censorship of Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” in a high school helped to form my ongoing deep belief in intellectual freedom, particularly in libraries.

Hentoff died this past January at the age of ninety-one. Most known for outspoken commentary in many arenas of speech and information, as well as his background in jazz, his “Arrest” novel struck a chord with me over 30 years ago. In the book, the characters come to understand both the responsibilities of the freedom to read and how critical it is to exercise that freedom.

I realize now that my opinions and staunch adherence to reading freedoms comes from authors like Hentoff, my first public library boss (children’s librarian Betty Holbrook), and my writing partner, Gale Sherman. Gale and I co-taught children’s literature for a time at Idaho State University and were proud and excited to expose our students to the variety and breadth of books for children and young adults. All these experiences verified the critical importance of allowing all readers of all ages the opportunity to read all sorts of materials.

One of my favorite personal stories is that of my then three-year-old daughter insisting to me that the character Mickey in Maurice Sendak’s “In the Night Kitchen” was a boy. When I asked how she knew, her reply: “Because he has that pot on his head.” For those who may not have looked at Sendak’s classic lately, this picture book comes under fire regularly because several of the illustrations feature a mischievous and nude little boy who does indeed sometimes sport a pot on his head.

It’s as important now as it ever was to recognize the importance of unfettered access to all sorts of books and information. We always speak about the existence of libraries in support of a democratic and informed citizenry and that is particularly critical now. People need to read and speak and read some more in order to understand and participate. I like reflecting back on reading Hentoff’s book and the subsequent development of my unshakeable conviction to promote the right, responsibility, and privilege to read freely.

Do you have a story that you want us to share? Email us at shaliniramachandran@boisestate.edu!