The school library field divides itself pretty cleanly and clearly between the childrens/young adult lit people and the research people. Sorry, but it is true. And to a very large extent, the lit people are very much those who lead it.
The Nov/Dec 2007 issue of Knowledge Quest is a telling example. I was very excited to learn that the theme was “Intellectual Freedom 101.” But I was very disappointed in reading it to find that the majority of the issue was devoted to book challenges – not Internet censorship and filtering problems. What does this say about the librarian’s role in technology integration when we still seem to be more concerned about a few cranks wanting to strike a couple fiction books from our shelves than we are about an entire generation of children losing access to a broad range of online information sources and tools? One of the things I have always been most proud of about the library profession is its anti-censorship stance. But the world has moved on in this area and we have not. The teachers I talk to don't worry about kids getting access to Harry Potter, but to Wikipedia, YouTube, blogs and wikis. (Have we met the enemy? Feb 16, 2008)
Since I am open with my criticism of AASL, I need to praise when praise is due. The Sept/Oct issue of Knowledge Quest, guest edited by my friend Helen Adams, is excellent*. It directly addresses my complaint in the excerpt above. In fact, Helen even gives me credit for priming the pump:
The impetus for the themed issue “Intellectual Freedom Online” began with an e-mail from
Doug Johnson. Although complimentary of the Knowledge Quest November/December 2007 themed issue “Intellectual Freedom 101,” he commented that the articles were focused primarily on print materials. What about intellectual freedom online, he asked? Long-time Knowledge Quest editor Debbie Abilock and I agreed, and we immediately began to plan for the issue. Later in 2008, Doug stated on his Blue Skunk blog during Banned Books Week, “But ALA (and ISTE), if we are truly committed to "Freedom to Read" what we really need is...“Blocked Bytes Week.” Americans need the freedom to read more than just books” (2008). Doug’s nudge gave us even more incentive to spotlight minors’ rights online and intellectual freedom related to the use of the Internet in schools and school libraries.
Pretty cool. And thanks for listening, Helen, Debbie A., and AASL.
Unfortunately Knowledge Quest is another one of those "members only" publications, but if you are an ALA/AASL member, have a friend who is a member, have access to a library that carries KQ, or have access to a full-text periodical database, you'll find some great articles in the issue by Barbara Jansen, Barbara Stripling, Nancy Willard, Annette Lamb, Frances Harris, Nancy Everhart, and other library luminaries.
If you are a school library media specialist or have an interest in IF, censorship, Internet filtering, or your students' rights to have access to a multiplicity of ideas, views and values, the issue is worth finding and reading - really, really. When I think of the all the loses that kids would experience were school librarians to disappear, having advocates for their reading, research and technology rights would be the most grievous.
* Read more of Helen's thoughts on her blog post, Intellectual Freedom Online, November 1, 2010.
Some my other writings about intellectual freedom if you are interested (Not that I have any opinions about the issue.)
- Are You Sure You Want an Internet Filter? Virtual Censorship is Still Censorship TechTrends, May/June 1998
- Best Practices for Meeting CIPA Requirements EdTech Magazine Q4 2005.
- Ethics in use of technology from Ethics in School Librarianship: A Reader edited by Carol Simpson Linworth, 2003
- Freedom and Filters, Head for the Edge, LMC,February 2003
- Good Policy for Policies (Techno Intelligence), School Library Journal, March 2003
- Internet Filters: Censorship by Any Other Name?, Emergency Librarian (Teacher Librarian), May 1998
- Lessons School Librarians Teach Others American Libraries, December 2004. (Referenced in the 7th edition of the ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Manual and now available online.) and chosen for inclusion in The Whole Library Handbook 4.
- Maintaining Intellectual Freedom in a Filtered World. Media Matters Leading and Learning, May 2005
- Response to “Just Give It to Me Straight: A Case Against Filtering the Internet,” in the May 2004 Phi Delta Kappan by Callister and Burbules. Appeared in Kappan Backtalk section, June 2004