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New from AASL: Defending Intellectual Freedom: LGBTQ+ Materials in School Libraries

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Simply, don’t miss Defending Intellectual Freedom: LGBTQ+ Materials in School.

Several years ago, I helped launch the Springfield Township Gay/Straight Alliance after a local doctor and alum visited for a conversation. She wanted me to help her ensure that no other student ever lived through the ordeal she herself experienced as a gay high school student. We both believed the library could initiate that difference but we had to present the case with school administrators and search for and piece together the resources we needed.

In 2017, ALA’s list of Top Ten Most Challenged Books included four with LGBTQ+ characters and themes. In the face of this climate, school librarians will find a welcome support of an important new toolkit on the AASL Standards Portal.

These newly released, free resources will support us and help us defend ourselves and our learning communities as we address challenges related to censorship and privacy issues, specifically as they apply to LGBTQ+ materials. They also support the development of more inclusive libraries and learning cultures.

From the Introduction:

Learners have the freedom to speak and hear what others have to say, rather than allowing others to control their access to ideas and information, the school librarian’s responsibility is to develop these dispositions in learners, educators, and all other members of the learning community. (AASL, 2018a)

Improving and safeguarding LGBTQ+ collections positively impacts the social-emotional learning of all learners.  Read on for ways to use the Shared Foundations from the AASL Standards–Inquire, Include, Collaborate, Curate, Explore, and Engage–to build LGBTQ+-inclusive library instruction, collections, and spaces.

Scaffolded by the National School Library StandardsDefending Intellectual Freedom: LGBTQ+ Materials in School Libraries includes a 59-page PDF document that organizes a plan of action packed with important questions that ask us to engage in inquiry about our own practices and biases, as well activities and resources around each of the Shared Foundations. An appendix offers additional suggested activities with templates. There’s a lengthy and valuable Works Cited list. And the Need Help Quickly Scenarios and Questions (pp. 10-11) make the guide even more usable, in addition to showcasing its practical value.

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AASL Past President Steven Yates, shared:

School Libraries accomplish many things in today’s school communities, but I truly think our most important work is what we do to ensure equity and access for all. This resource guide does a phenomenal job of demonstrating the beauty of Include, my favorite Shared Foundation of the new AASL Standards.

This important project is the result of a collaboration among the 2018 ALA Emerging Leaders team–Kaitlin Frick, Katie Martin, Angela Ocana, Juan Rivera, Allie Stevens, Julie Stivers, and AASL member guide Rachel Altobelli. Their work presents an inspired model for applying our Standards as a lens to view additional issues and situations.

Please share broadly.  Defending Intellectual Freedom: LGBTQ+ Materials in School Libraries is essential for retooling, building awareness, professional development and for pre-service learning.

Also available for download are the following

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Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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