Addressing Challenges in America’s School Libraries

A two-part webinar series presented by the American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) and sponsored by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL).

Part One
Challenges and Challenging Legislation Everywhere: What’s Going On? 

Joyce McIntosh, Courtney Pentland, and Amanda Kordeliski present an overview of what’s taking place in our country and talk about the ways people (not just librarians) can advocate on local, state, and national levels and where to seek help in navigating challenges.

Courtney Pentland is a high school librarian in Nebraska, was an elementary librarian for a hot minute, and has worked in a district level library services department. She is adjunct faculty for the University of Nebraska-Omaha School Library program and has served on the Nebraska School Librarians Association board as board member at large, president, and chapter delegate to AASL. She has been elected to be the 2023-2024 AASL President. Follow her adventures on Twitter.

Amanda Kordeliski became involved in library advocacy through her state library association. Advocating for libraries at the local, state, and national level became a passion and Amanda has served as Oklahoma School Librarians Chair and as Chair of the Oklahoma Library Association Advocacy committee. Amanda joined the ALA PolicyCorps Cohort III in the spring of 2020 and recently became a member of the PolicyCorps Advisory Board. She currently serves on the AASL Board of Directors as a Director at Large. She has presented on history, technology, librarianship and library advocacy nationally at ALA Annual and AASL and at many state conferences. Ms. Kordeliski has published articles in Knowledge Quest and YALS. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in history and a Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Oklahoma. 

Joyce McIntosh is the Assistant Program Director for the Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF), an organization dedicated to First Amendment education, litigation, and advocacy. She has worked at the intersection of intellectual freedom, communication, and the First Amendment for three decades. Her background and education in journalism and library and information science have led her to work for newspapers, non-profits, and for the last two decades in libraries. She worked in a public library outside of Chicago, IL providing reference, programming, outreach, and assistive technology before joining FTRF.  With FTRF and the American Library Association her work has focused on education about the First Amendment and censorship, and helping librarians navigate challenges to intellectual freedom.

Part Two
Managing Challenges with Our School Policies and the Law

Freedom to Read Foundation General Counsel Theresa Chmara provides a review of minors’ rights under the First Amendment. She also  provides examples of how the courts have addressed challenges to materials in schools, including definitions for terms such as obscenity, which frequently is used as the basis for materials challenges. Mariela Siegert, a professor at Dominican University and a school librarian, shares the best practices that she uses to prepare students for challenges.

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.

Mariela Siegert (she/her) is a School Librarian at North High School in Downers Grove, Illinois, and an adjunct professor at Dominican University in River Forest, IL for the SOIS & MAYL program, where she teaches one class on Technology in the Library and another on Graphics/Comics. She is also a reader for YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens committee, serves as editor for the No Flying No Tights website, and is also a board member for the Rebecca Caudill, which is an Illinois state book award. Mariela has also presented locally and nationally on a variety of subjects, including but not limited to Graphics/Comics.