Did you know MASL has been busy supporting our members facing intellectual freedom challenges? Just in the past month, we have sent letters to two school boards in support of keeping books in libraries. Here's an excerpt from one of the letters:
"Your efforts to defend the intellectual freedom of your students may have been met with resistance from detractors, but please know that you are supported by a much larger community of educators, librarians, and Americans who believe that the loud voices of a few people should not be given the power to dictate what other individuals and their children have the right to read.
We should note that processes like the one you have in place are, of course, established for precisely this sort of circumstance: when disputes arise within a community over whether or not a book is appropriate for inclusion in a library’s collection. Without such policies, responsible parties can find themselves subject to pressures brought to bear by the loudest, most influential, or most powerful members of a community, without regard to the merits of those people’s case. The process allows you to adjudicate the matter with careful consideration, considering information and vantage points other than those expressed by the most strident voices. The processes result in decisions that are as free as possible from prejudice and misinformation. This is precisely the process your district has followed in this case, and we wish to express our admiration to you for having done so steadfastly. We also wish to encourage you not to undo that careful work in the face of continuing pressure from a subset of the community."
From the same letter:
"Books are tools for understanding the world; limiting young people's access to books does not protect them from life's complex and challenging issues. As a school board, you have a duty to support the learning and growth of all of your students. Removing this book from the library at (redacted) School would restrict the intellectual freedom of your students and their right to choose what they wish to read. The Maine Association of School Libraries strongly supports your willingness to defend your students’ access to this book and we fervently hope that you will continue to do so by retaining it in the (redacted) School library."
What can you do? Go to school board meetings, write school board members and administrators (reach out if you need help crafting a letter, we have lots of ideas and skillful editors), and stay aware of what is happening in your towns and districts. Don't allow a vocal minority to dictate what your students get to read!
Remember to reach out to our IF Chair, Karen Silverman, if you need support or have questions. She can be reached at silvermank at link75 dot org.