Intellectual Freedom

Libraries cannot remain neutral about hate, oppression, censorship

In the current climate of well-funded campaigns to control what children read, Melanie Huggins, president of the Public Library Association (a division of the American Library Association), is speaking out in Public Libraries Journal Jan/Feb 2022. She shares that in the past, the diversity of a collection served as a library’s primary (and mostly quiet) act of resistance against hate, majority opinions and disinformation. The idea of remaining neutral meant that you agreed to ignore the specific concerns of marginalized groups and address those of racial, social and political majorities. Today, given the book challenges across the country, she urges libraries that ‘we can’t remain neutral about hate, oppression, censorship.’

It may seem like a daunting task to but librarians do not need to go it alone. The ALA’s Library Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read statement have long stood for these values and are now buoyed by statements regarding racial injustice, censorship and equity of access. These resources for libraries provide the support needed to manage these challenges and inspire leadership to actively work to dismantle oppressive systems and champion the voiceless.