Dealing with Challenges, Misinformation, and Disinformation About Resources for Children and Young Adults

Across the United States, public and school librarians face parents or organized groups who accuse them of sharing content that is obscene, harmful to minors, or child pornography. But a politically-motivated declaration that material is harmful to minors does not make it a reality. 

Issues of intellectual freedom in Youth Services are carefully defined in law, and courts have set limits on when terms like “obscene” or “pornographic” can be applied to books and other information resources. In this webinar, library staff can learn how to address these challenges from a First Amendment perspective and how to navigate issues that arise when these misleading claims are spread in a community.

After participating in this event, library workers will:

  • Have a basic understanding of the legal issues that address claims of obscenity, child pornography, or harm to minors and the role of the First Amendment.
  • Have concrete strategies for responding to these accusations and inviting others to support library workers in the community.
  • Understand best practices for addressing challenges to books and library resources.
Registration for this event is included in the Defending Intellectual Freedom: Facing Challenges and Fighting Back bundle.

About the Instructors

Theresa Chmara is an attorney in Washington, DC. She also is the General Counsel of the Freedom to Read Foundation. She is the author of Privacy and Confidentiality Issues: A Guide for Libraries and their Lawyers (ALA 2009). She has been a First Amendment lawyer for over thirty years and is a frequent speaker on intellectual freedom issues in libraries. She is a contributing author for the Intellectual Freedom Manual, published by the Office of Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association. She also served as an instructor for the Lawyers for Libraries training seminars and is an instructor for the American Library Association First Amendment and Library Services eCourse.

Martha Hickson has been a librarian at North Hunterdon High School in New Jersey since 2005. Her work has been featured in School Library Journal, Booklist, KnowledgeQuest, and the ALA Intellectual Freedom Blog. Her defense of intellectual freedom has been recognized with awards from the New Jersey Association of School Librarians, the New Jersey Library Association, the American Association of School Librarians, and the National Council of Teachers of English. In June, the American Library Association presented Martha with the Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity in recognition of her "energy and bravery in the face of [...] persistent and ongoing hostility" while advocating for students' First Amendment right to read. And in November, the National Coalition Against Censorship presented Martha with the Judith Krug Outstanding Librarian Award.

This event will be hosted in Zoom. Automatic captions will be enabled for this event. This event will be recorded, and registrants will receive access to the recording within a day after the event ends.

If you have questions or requests regarding accessibility, contact us at ce@ala.org or at 312-280-5100.