Monday, October 3, 2011

The evolving nature of intellectual freedom

When I began my work as a school librarian, I believed standing against censorship was the most fundamental tenent of our profession. I did a big banned books research project with some English classes, and intellectual freedom was at the center of much of my earliest writing and presenting.

But I have been thinking about the elimination of school librarians and school libraries as another, more insidiuous form of limiting our students' access to information. And I chalked up another roadblock over the weekend. I got to speak to the Kentucky School Media Association, and my suggestion that we read a book each day was met with some disbelief. What can I read everyday? Well, somedays it's adult books, some days YA, somedays nonfiction, but I do average a book a day. Where do I read? Well, not at school, which seemed to be the anticipated answer. But think about it. If we aren't modeling reading daily, and we aren't getting to know our collections to connect them to both student readers and curriculum support, isn't that information as good as banned? As librarians, we alone can make the connection between the materials and the readers which enables real intellectual freedom, or so I would like to think.

And, as Banned Websites Awareness Day highlighted, access to information is more complex in a digital environment. Equity issues still plague us. I am anticipating some of the multimedia files in the ebooks I have bought from Amazon will work with the new $199 Kindle Fire, but what about with their $79 entry-level e-ink reader?

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