Education and Advocacy

Selected Professional Statements

Policies and Procedures: Selected Guidelines

One of the strongest defenses against censorship is having board-approved (school board, library board) policies and procedures in place. Ideally these provide broad guidance for librarians and teachers in choosing materials based on the purpose of the collection or the goals of the curriculum, and outline specific steps to be followed in case of a complaint. Models that embrace these ideals include:

Libraries:

Classrooms:

Self-Censorship

Self-censorship—when a book or other item isn’t purchased or made available due to fears of complaints or other repercussions, or due to personal dislike of the message or content of a work—is something that is difficult to acknowledge and to talk about. But it’s important that librarians and teachers do acknowledge it, and do begin talking to one another about their struggles and concerns. These are critical first steps to overcoming this silent form of censorship.

Advocacy Organizations

American Civil Liberties Union :  The ACLU is the nation’s primary advocate of an individual’s civil rights and civil liberties as guaranteed by the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights.   The ACLU is best known for its litigation efforts.   The ACLU also assists with advice on how to handle the practical politics that surround attempts to have materials excluded from the public schools. (ACLU-Wisconsin)

Banned Books Week: This annual event celebrates the freedom to choose, the freedom to read, and the freedom to speak.

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund: This non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the First Amendment rights of the comics industry has a comics censorship bibliography, case files of censorship attempts in which they’ve been involved as First Amendment advocates, and news of current and ongoing cases.

Electronic Frontier Foundation: This non-profit organization advocates for freedom of speech and privacy witih regard to digital technologies. EFF does much of its work in the courts, but also works in the area of policy analsyis and education. The Deeplinks blog is a great way to stay on top of technology news as it relates to intellectual freedom and privacy.

Freedom Forum: The Freedom Forum is “dedicated to free press, free speech and free spirit for all people.” Among its initiatives are the Newseum, newsroom diversity, and First Amendment issues, which are emphasized through many education initiatives.

Freedom to Read Foundation (FRTF): The FTRF is the First Amendment legal defense arm of the American Library Association (ALA). The FTRF provides legal assistance and financial support in court cases involving the First Amendment and libraries.

National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) :  The NCAC is an alliance of 50 national non-profit organizations that are united by a conviction that freedom of thought, inquiry, and expression must be defended.   The organization works to educate its members and the public at large about the dangers of censorship and how to oppose them.

People For the American Way (PFAW) :   The People For the American Way Foundation provides up-to-date news and information for policymakers, scholars and activists nationwide on the Religious Right movement and its political allies. PFAW also engages in legal action as needed to protect or restore the rights and liberties of Americans, as guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.