Defending Intellectual Freedom: Facing Challenges and Fighting Back

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Libraries are on the front lines of a battle over the freedom to read, the freedom to educate, and the freedom to inform, with very real consequences for students, readers, and communities. In debates often marked by misinformation, incivility and politically motivated attacks, library staff need to be equipped with the tools to fight back and protect the freedom of their community members to access a wide range of knowledge and ideas in the library and their freedom to choose what to read.

In this three-part webinar series, ALA, the Office for Intellectual Freedom, and the Freedom to Read Foundation will provide library staff with the tools to deal with book challenges, threats to youth services, proposed and new legislation addressing access to information, including reproductive health information, and more.

The three webinars included in this series are:

Navigating Book Challenges in Rural America: Wednesday, January 4, 2023 at 2:30pm Eastern/1:30pm Central/12:30pm Mountain/11:30am Pacific
Speakers: Heather Hutto and MacKenzie Ledley

Reproductive Health and Libraries: Navigating the New Information Landscape: Wednesday, January 11, 2023 at 2:30pm Eastern/1:30pm Central/12:30pm Mountain/11:30am Pacific
Speakers: Deborah Caldwell-Stone and Theresa Chmara

Dealing with Challenges, Misinformation, and Disinformation About Resources for Children and Young Adults: Wednesday, January 18, 2023 at 2:30pm Eastern/1:30pm Central/12:30pm Mountain/11:30am Pacific
Speakers: Theresa Chmara and Martha Hickson

Registration is also available separately for each event.

By participating in this bundle of events, libraries workers will learn:

  • How to factor in differences in community location, size, and needs when addressing book challenges
  • Effective strategies to directly address challenges at school and public libraries
  • How library board members, trustees, and community members can support libraries and library workers in their mission to serve the information needs of everyone in the community.
  • How laws addressing abortion access and reproductive health do and do not impact  libraries.
  • A basic understanding of how courts have dealt with similar reproductive health situations in the past.
  • Strategies and best practices for responding to threats or potential accusations of aiding and abetting a crime regarding reproductive health.
  • 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.
  • Concrete strategies for responding to these accusations and inviting others to support library workers in the community.
  • Best practices for addressing challenges to books and library resources.

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 or at 312-280-5100.