Monday, May 9, 2011

ALA Virtual Legislative Day allows library advocates to contact Congress from home

Virtual Library Legislative Day is part of the American Library Association’s (ALA) National Library Legislative Day on May 10, when hundreds of library advocates will descend on Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress and their staffs. Library advocates who cannot make it to Capitol Hill for the event can still be a part of the effort by calling and/or e-mailing their elected officials on May 10 – or any time the week of May 9-13.

So the trip to Washington isn’t in your budget? No problem! By calling and/or e-mailing your elected officials in Washington and asking them to vote for libraries, you can make a difference. Just five minutes of your time will help support and strengthen the efforts of the library supporters in Washington rallying on May 10. If you cannot call or e-mail your elected official on May 10, please do so sometime between May 9-13.

Spread the word – please share this opportunity to voice support for libraries to your Friends group members, Board of Trustees, library staff, patrons, and community at large. To help you achieve this, ALTAFF has provided a reproducible bookmark and flyer. Both can be found at You can also promote on Facebook. RSVP (and share the event on your Facebook page) at

Not sure who your elected officials are? Go to the Legislative Action Center at  If you have never used it before, check out the video tutorial at

Finally, talking points will be posted on the ALTAFF website at the event draws closer. Be sure to check back at

Virtual Library Legislative Day is sponsored by ALTAFF, the ALA Washington Office, ALA Chapter Relations, and the ALA Office for Library Advocacy. If you have any questions or concerns, please email me directly at

Mark your calendar and take five minutes to show your support for libraries!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

IFRT Monthly Video Series: Jonathan Bloom

The Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) presents the ninth in its monthly video series of interviews. This month’s video features Jonathan Bloom, Counsel at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, and member of the Board of Trustees of the Freedom to Read Foundation — speaking about our First Amendment Freedoms.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Data Privacy Day: Our Shared Responsibility What Libraries Can Do

Libraries are a wonderful resource for communities. They provide endless volumes of information, a quiet haven in which to study, and educational programs for the public. For many, the local library has also become the place to access computers and the Internet. As a result, libraries have the opportunity to become an information source on how to protect the privacy of our personal information and be secure online. Consider doing the following in honor of Data Privacy Day, January 28, 2011:

Host a series of educational events for your patrons designed to increase awareness about data privacy. Consider programs especially for parents, students, and older adults.

Invite a privacy professional in your area to speak at a brown bag lunch for library employees to educate your employees about the basics of data privacy. Host your own brown bag lunch using educational materials and presentations available at

Actively encourage all parents, patrons, educators and librarians to educate young people about protecting the privacy of their personal information online.

Encourage familiarity with the American Library Association’s (ALA) Resources for Libraries, Choose Privacy Week, and Privacy: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights, and promote discussions of privacy rights in the digital age, especially reader privacy, among all library employees and users. To this end, view the ALA's Choose Privacy Week Video.

Ensure that all computers used by the library have updated security software (anti-spyware, anti-virus, and firewall), web browsers, and operating systems.

Make sure your library has a copy of Choose Privacy Week Resource Guide, available for only $15 from the ALA. Encourage your library to order more books about data privacy and security for patrons of all ages and to keep these resources updated. Make sure your library has a copy of Privacy and Confidentiality Issues: A Guide for Libraries and Their Lawyers, 98 pages, 2009, soft cover, American Library Association (ALA).

Learn more about privacy and security education at and

Friday, January 21, 2011

Enfield library cancels screening of 'Sicko' under pressure from council, mayor

By Marcus Hatfield
Journal Inquirer
ENFIELD — The Enfield Public Library on Wednesday canceled Friday’s screening of filmmaker Michael Moore’s controversial documentary “Sicko” under pressure from most Town Council members and the mayor, who threatened to cut the library’s funding if the film was shown.

In less than 24 hours, what started as a resident’s complaint during Tuesday’s council meeting about the library’s upcoming showing of the film has drawn the attention of state civil liberties and library groups that could lead to legal action against the town.

The screening of “Sicko,” Moore’s 2007 Academy Award-nominated documentary that critiqued the American health care system, was to have been part of the library’s new nonfiction film series.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, resident Kevin Fealy brought the upcoming screening to the council’s attention, urging it to pressure the library to cancel the movie, saying he didn’t want the town “to promote material such as this on my tax dollars.”

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Stage Set for Fight Over Net Neutrality in House

Internet companies and broadband providers take note: There are bound to be some fireworks over net neutrality in the House now that Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., has been elected as ranking member of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet. If Republicans on the subcommittee look to nullify the Federal Communications Commission’s new net neutrality rules, passed Dec. 21, Eshoo—long a supporter of the idea—is likely to put up a fight.

The Republican leadership on the Energy and Commerce Committee has made net neutrality and oversight of the FCC a top priority. Subcommittee chair Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., who chairs the subcommittee, has said that its first hearings in the new Congress will examine the FCC's authority to regulate the Internet via the new net neutrality rules.

Eshoo, whose home district includes parts of Silicon Valley, including the headquarters for tech heavyweights like Google, Hewlett-Packard and Facebook, comes to the subcommittee with a strong track record in high-tech and Internet issues. Earlier this year, Eshoo was named co-chair of the Congressional Internet Caucus.

Eshoo won her spot as the subcommittee’s top Democrat over Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., in a secret ballot vote on Wednesday. She is the first woman in the history of the subcommittee to land a leadership role.

Christopher Hitchens on Freedom of Speech - Part 1 of 2

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Upcoming NewSouth 'Huck Finn' Eliminates the 'N' Word 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

November 14, 2010
Christophe Vorlet for The Chronicle Review
By Tim Wu

In 1930, a man named Daniel Lord wrote a Production Code for American motion pictures. He included specific prohibitions: "Dances suggesting indecent passions," he wrote, "are forbidden." But Lord's general point was to ensure that American films didn't glorify that which was morally wrong and that they always had a happy ending. Movies would be a source of uplift. "No picture shall be produced," he wrote, "that will lower the moral standards of those who see it."

Lord wasn't a government censor. Rather, he was a Roman Catholic priest dedicated to the elimination of "filth." Nonetheless, his code—with all of its ambitions of thought control—became one of the most effective regulations on speech in American history, more potent than any law or government program. Lord was successful in large part because the industry imposed his code on itself. The consolidation of the film industry in the 1930s concentrated power in a handful of studios, making them vulnerable to boycotts, ultimately leading to acts of self-censorship.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Why WikiLeaks Is Good for Democracy

Wednesday 01 December 2010
by: Bill Quigley, t r u t h o u t | Op-ed

Information is the currency of democracy.  
-Thomas Jefferson
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. 
(Photo: New Media Days / Peter Erichsen)
Since 9/11, the US government, through Presidents Bush and Obama, has increasingly told the US public that "state secrets" will not be shared with citizens. Candidate Obama pledged to reduce the use of state secrets, but President Obama continued the Bush tradition. The courts, Congress and international allies have gone meekly along with the escalating secrecy demands of the US Executive.

By labeling tens of millions of documents secret, the US government has created a huge vacuum of information.

But information is the lifeblood of democracy. Information about government contributes to a healthy democracy. Transparency and accountability are essential elements of good government. Likewise, "a lack of government transparency and accountability undermines democracy and gives rise to cynicism and mistrust," according to a 2008 Harris survey commissioned by the Association of Government Accountants.

Into the secrecy vacuum stepped Private Bradley Manning, who, according to the Associated Press, was able to defeat "Pentagon security systems using little more than a Lady Gaga CD and a portable computer memory stick."

Manning apparently sent the information to Wikileaks - a nonprofit media organization that specializes in publishing leaked information. Wikileaks in turn shared the documents to other media around the world, including The New York Times, and published much of the documents' contents on its website.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

North County Parents Seek to Ban "Brave New World"

School official defends text as 'excellent example of satire'

By BEN WEATHERS Staff Writer
Published 11/03/10

A novel nearly 80 years old is stirring up fresh controversy at North County High School. A small group of parents is circulating a petition to have Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" removed from use by county schools over concerns about the book's explicit sexual content. The 1932 novel depicts a dystopian future where science and technology have run amok resulting in a morally bankrupt society.

"If you were to have images in what is depicted by this book - you would go to jail," said petition organizer David J. Cole of Linthicum. "If that's the type of literature that (the schools) think is appropriate for children … I disagree with that."

The 38-year-old father of three, including, a 15- and 17-year-old at the school, was appalled when he learned that the book was being taught to 10th-graders as part of a pilot Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics program.  As of Thursday the small group of parents have collected around 250 signatures and met with a committee of teachers and administrators to try and have the book removed the book not only from the 10th-grade class, but also from the advanced placement honors curriculum, Cole said.

According to school spokesman Bob Mosier, the committee, which includes at least one non-staff adult representative, will meet once more with parents before rendering a decision. Under school policy, if Cole and the other parents are dissatisfied with the committee's decision, they can appeal to the director of curriculum or director of library media service, Superintendent Kevin Maxwell and ultimately to the Board of Education.

Linda Poole, who heads up the Secondary Reading, English and Integrated Literacy program, called the book an "excellent example of satire."  The supplemental text deals with ethical issues revolving around science and technology, she explained.  "This is a satire written with that in mind - what could happen if science is misused," said Poole. "It is an internationally recognized text."  The text was approved for use in AP English countywide in March of 2009, Mosier said. Last spring it was approved and used in the 10th-grade STEM programs at both North County and South River.

While this is the first time that a parent has raised issues with this particular text, educators are always sensitive to such concerns from parents, Mosier said. Teachers will offer an alternative text to meet educational requirements at the request of either parents of students.  "When situations like this occur, we are as sensitive as we can be to work with parents," Mosier said.  However, for Cole and the other parents who want the book removed from the schools in its entirety, the option of an alternative text is not enough. In addition, there are more than 100 other approved texts that deal with similar issues of totalitarianism and the ethics of science, Cole said.

"If the schools choose to not hear the voice of the parents, we will continue to appeal … and try to get this book removed," said Cole.

This is not the first time that the novel has been challenged. In September 2008, the book was listed on Time magazine's website in a list of commonly banned books
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