Under Scrutiny: Helping Staff Feel Safe and Empowered in the Face of Book Challenges

This YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) webinar was co-sponsored by AASL (American Association of School Librarians), PLA (Public Library Association), the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF), and ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children).

All around the country, politically motivated challenges to library patrons’ freedom to read and library staff members’ ability to do their jobs are increasing. Many of these challenges have moved from simple complaints and removal requests to abusive, sometimes dangerous behavior. 

In this webinar, you’ll hear from Darcy Lipp-Acord, the Youth Services Librarian at Campbell County Public Library in Gillette, WY. As someone who has been on the front lines of this harassment, she will present information linking strategies of book challenging groups with abusive behaviors typically found in domestic relationships and offer strategies for dealing with those behaviors as front-facing library staff.

You’ll learn about common strategies used by political groups in their efforts to censor youth materials, how to identify and name these behaviors, and how doing so can empower library staff to develop proactive strategies for responding in ways that protect their safety and integrity.

After participating in this event, learners will:

  • Be able to identify common abusive behaviors being used by book challenging groups
  • Be able to recognize the patterns utilized by these groups
  • Understand how to adapt strategies taught to domestic abuse victims to library situations, and to utilize these strategies to help staff cope with abusive behaviors

Darcy Lipp-Acord is the Youth Services Librarian at Campbell County Public Library in Gillette, WY. Since July of 2021, she has been directly involved in dealing with a local group attempting to move youth materials out of childrens and teen areas of her library. The group, as many such challengers nationwide, has resorted to abusive techniques that demoralize staff. Lipp-Acord has researched the links between these techniques and abusive strategies often used in domestic situations, and presented her findings at the 2022 YALSA Symposium in Baltimore.