While the recent spate of book challenges has caused every librarian to refresh their selection policy and challenge process, an additional layer of protection can be acquired by making sure school libraries and/or state-level purchasing organizations have an up-to-date electronic collection development policy. Vendor conversations are also a must as sales and content specialists need to understand librarian concerns around how databases operate and what content is being rendered unsearchable to students. Finally, legislative advocacy techniques of monitoring what legislation might be going up in front of states are vital to track and organize against.
- Follow EveryLibrary’s updates on Legislation of Concern
- Find your state legislature’s website and learn what’s happening in your state
- Contact your state legislators to voice your support for student access to information
- Engage your school leaders in conversation about the importance of access to information. Many non-librarians aren’t familiar with how databases work – this visual can help you explain what content is in databases and how students search
For School Librarians
- Create or update your selection policy to include online subscription content
- Create or update a challenge policy and procedure that allows time to collaborate with vendors to mitigate an issue without losing access to the whole of the product. (Sample language forthcoming).
- Consider challenge policies to require that challengers recreate their search process, asks if the searcher stayed within the original database or online content and identifies if the searcher was on a machine that is owned by the school or District.
- Ensure that policy includes a process for review, timeline, and the qualifications of reviewers.
- Make sure principals/administration including anyone who would communicate with the school community or the press are aware of the procedure.
- Understand laws that govern information for children like CIPA, , and FERPA.
- Understand how filtering works at your school
- Ensure that your administrators, especially ones who might have influence over legislation, are well versed in the issues important for libraries and educators around censorship
- Show your community the pedagogically sound method for how you choose materials and teach with them
- Show that collection development is not fear based or based in ideology
- Be aware of modern educational emphasis on equity and inclusion (meaning it’s not ideology that guides us, but pedagogy based on the students we teach)
- Familiarize yourself and others at your school with Terms & Definitions Related to Intellectual Freedom & Censorship by United for Libraries
- Partner with local, state, and national librarians groups to learn, advocate, and educate the public together
- Urge your state librarian to join School Librarian Learning Network
- Talk to your database vendors
- Build a relationship with database vendors to partner for advocating for access to materials
- Ask your database vendors for transparency regarding stop words, search limiters, and if/how they make certain content unsearchable
- Ask your database vendors how they are defining appropriate material.
- Let your database vendors know that transparency regarding tools and practices that censor search are a priority for you, and will influence your purchasing decisions
- If you access your databases through a consortium, talk with your consortium purchasers as well.