CHICAGO — A far cry from the stereotypical homely, conservative librarian many of us remember from childhood, the American Library Association of today is behaving more and more like the corner drug dealer or child predator — “Psst…hey kid, I’ve got something for you…”
Of course, libraries are great hubs of information — a place for anyone to explore, learn, and feed their imagination — but libraries also contain material that many find offensive and material that is certainly inappropriate for children.
The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom was created many years ago to combat censorship.
Now, however, this taxpayer funded organization seems to be spending most of its time advocating for access to pornography in public libraries, grabbing your child’s attention to tell them they have the right to read, watch, and listen to anything they choose, and recommending books to them that very well may violate yours and your child’s religious beliefs.
This brochure titled, Kids, Know Your Rights! A Young Person’s Guide to Intellectual Freedom, was created by ALA’s Association for Library Service to Children and the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee to advise children of their ‘rights’, specifically, the right to ‘Intellectual Freedom.’
ALA’s brochure tells kids they can read, watch, and listen to any material they choose regardless of whether some adults may find that material inappropriate. The brochure goes on to say that anything checked out from or viewed at the library is confidential.
As if that weren’t enough, ALA’s brochure also provides kids with a list of “Suggested Titles for Further Reading,” supposedly for the purpose of addressing the issues of censorship and intellectual freedom.
However, not only do many of these books clearly slant to the left on a variety of issues, but several of them focus largely on homosexuality while demonizing Christians and marginalizing parents. In fact, some of the books recommended by ALA have themselves been challenged for censorship.
A few ALA recommended books are listed below. A brief description or review of each book can be found by clicking on the book’s title.
Memoirs of a Bookbat, Kathryn Lasky.
Talk, Kathe Koja.
The Year They Burned the Books, Nancy Garden.
The Loud Silence of Francine Greene, Karen Cushman.
The Last Safe Place on Earth, Richard Peck.
What is Intellectual Freedom?
Although the United States Constitution does afford the right to freedom of expression, the “Intellectual Freedom” ALA fights so strongly for comes from Article 19 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
Although ALA’s brochure for kids references the First Amendment as the basis for the right to intellectual freedom, this appears to be nothing more than lip service to the U.S. Constitution in an attempt to somehow validate ALA’s liberal stance. In reality, the First Amendment does not trump parental authority or the protection of children from obscene and harmful material.
ALA’s affinity for the rights afforded by the United Nations over the U.S. Constitution is evident. ALA’s website states that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is essential to interpreting the Library Bill of Rights.
In addition to its allegiance to Article 19, ALA declares that “education in support of intellectual freedom is fundamental to the mission of libraries of all types” and “the importance of education to the development of intellectual freedom is expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26…”
Section 1 of Article 26 states that everyone has the right to an education. Fine — the constitution agrees. But what should be of concern to everyone who values the freedoms afforded by the U.S. Constitution over the liberal global perspective of the United Nations is the fact that ALA also references Section 2 of Article 26 of the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights, which states (emphasis added in bold and brackets):
“Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms [as set forth by the United Nations]. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial, or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.”
ALA and Pornography
ALA has a long history of completely disregarding the welfare of children in the name of freedom of expression and intellectual freedom.
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In 1998, ALA, along with several other organizations, including the ACLU, sued congress for enacting the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), a bill that would require filters on library computers to protect children from obscene and pornographic material.
From a February 3rd, 1999 ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee Report (emphasis added in bold):
“The American Library Association (ALA) affirms that information is information, whether it is accessed on a magazine rack, on a bookshelf, or on the Internet. It is never a library’s role to keep individuals from what other people have to say…
…Libraries and librarians exist to facilitate the exercise of [freedom of speech and the corollary right to receive information] by selecting, producing, providing access to, identifying, retrieving, organizing, providing instruction in the use of, and preserving recorded expression regardless of the format or technology.” For librarians, intellectual freedom, comprised of these complementary rights, is extended to minors as well as adults.”
ALA and Common Core
As states continue to implement the Common Core State Standards, ALA is working to train librarians to aid teachers in searching for and selecting content that will properly align with the new standards for each grade level.
In 2010, as part of the public comment on grade level bands for Common Core, ALA reviewed a draft of the standards and provided feedback.
One of ALA’s recommendations was for “digital and online media to be infused throughout the standards and appear at all grade levels.” ALA further suggested that “students’ exposure to, use of, and interaction with digital resources and social media should begin at earlier grade levels than those found in the ELA writing and speaking and listening sections”.
Considering ALA’s desire to provide access of unrestricted material in public libraries to all ages, coupled with the fact that it recommends books with inappropriate content to children, shouldn’t parents be concerned about the content of material ALA recommends to teachers for use with Common Core?
Further, with Common Core ushering in a massive increase in student use of online content in the classroom and ALA collaborating with teachers on that content, shouldn’t the question be asked — does ALA’s stance on restricting questionable content in public libraries in any way extend to the classroom?
After all, material like this is already available to children in many school libraries.