Challenges to displays, exhibits, and programs.

American Library Association • September 24, 2019
The Secret World of Arrietty

For daily ALA and library news, check the American Libraries website or subscribe to our RSS feed.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Pinterest icon YouTube icon RSS icon

Censorship beyond books

Drag Queen Storytime at Severna Park (Md.) Community Library

Sallyann Price writes: “As she compiled data on challenges to library materials for National Library Week last year, Kristin Pekoll, assistant director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, noticed an odd trend: Public libraries were nearly tied with school libraries in the frequency of challenges. ‘When I went back and looked just at public libraries, I was seeing a huge rise in challenges to nonbook materials,’ Pekoll said, such as displays, social media posts, reading lists, and programs. (About half of the challenged programs were drag queen story hours). In 2018, these nonbook challenges represented 38% of challenges reported to OIF.”...

American Libraries features, Sept. 24; Nov./Dec., 2018

PLA 2019 Inclusive Internship Initiative concludes

Sade Wilkins El (right), an intern with PLA’s Inclusive Internship Initiative (III), networks at the III wrap-up event in Washington, D.C.

Mary Hirsh writes: “This summer, 48 public libraries around the US hosted a high-school-aged intern for 10 weeks of learning, networking, and career development as part of PLA’s third annual Inclusive Internship Initiative. The initiative is designed to introduce students from diverse backgrounds to librarianship as a viable and rewarding career. Members of the 2019 III cohort gathered in Washington, D.C., September 20–22 for a wrap-up event to discuss the work they did as well as the impact of that work on their careers, their libraries, and their communities.”...

AL: The Scoop, Sept. 24

The right to be forgotten limited to Europe

The European Court of Justice, Luxembourg

Google does not have to apply Europe’s “right to be forgotten” law globally, the European Court of Justice ruled on September 24 in a landmark case that pitted privacy rights against freedom of speech. The victory for the US tech titan means that, while it must remove links to sensitive personal data from its internet search results in Europe when required, it does not have to scrap them from searches elsewhere in the world. The case has been viewed as a landmark test of whether people can demand a blanket removal of information about themselves from searches without stifling free speech and legitimate public interest....

Reuters, Sept. 24

Alex Gino on what it’s like to author a banned book

Cover of George, by Alex Gino

Alex Gino writes: “Banned Books Week is here again, and that means it’s time for people to ask me what I think of censorship and challenges to George (informally, ‘Melissa’s story’), my debut middle-grade novel about a transgender girl. So, here goes. Banning books is bad. Prohibiting access to information and stories is a dangerous practice. Attempts to do so are also poorly conceived and remarkably countereffective. Kids lose out when books are challenged, especially transgender kids, deeply in need of seeing reflections of themselves.”...

Intellectual Freedom Blog, Sept. 23
ALA news

Music video parody for Banned Books Week

Screenshot from Homewood (Ill.) Public Library’s Banned Books Week video, Leer Despacito

Librarians at the Homewood (Ill.) Public Library celebrated Banned Books Week in 2017 by  collaborating to create a parody music video (2:11) titled Leer Despacito, a parody of Despacito by Luis Fonsi with Justin Bieber. They adapted the visual look and music of Fonsi’s Spanish-language dancehall song. This black-and-white video shows young readers who encounter banned books by Latinx authors....

Homewood (Ill.) Public Library YouTube channel, Sept. 24, 2017

Maine library loans out sports equipment

Millinocket (Maine) Public Library patrons took some of the library’s mountain bikes out for a spin in 2018

Patrons of the Millinocket (Maine) Memorial Library can not only check out the latest Stephen King book, they can borrow one of the library’s many mountain bikes, canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, or sets of cross-country skis and take them out for a spin in the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument or on the new Katahdin Area Trails. The equipment, which was donated to the library by the Outdoor Sport Institute, makes up the new Katahdin Gear Library, and is free and open to anyone. “If ecotourism and the outdoors is what’s going to save the Katahdin region, then that’s what we need to offer to our patrons,” said Director Matt DeLaney....

Bangor (Maine) Daily News, Sept. 23

The invisibility of library labor

Library databases

Barbara Fister writes: “Libraries are easy pickings for layoffs because librarians’ labor is almost by design fairly invisible. When you click on a database link and download an article, it may take only a second, but people did a lot of work to make that happen: They selected and negotiated a license annually for that database, put links to it in all the right places on the library website, changed them when the vendor randomly decided to rebrand, and did a ton of work to make sure the links to hundreds of thousands of individual articles actually work. When all goes well, it appears seamless. We want to save the time of the reader. But it’s a ton of labor that nobody sees.”...

Inside Higher Ed: Library Babel Fish, Sept. 18; Minitex News, July 25
Latest Library Links

A Sicilian library devoted to African immigrants

The Small African Library, Catania, Sicily

Stefania D’Ignoti writes: “A majority of immigrants to Italy come from African countries, but many face an increasing crackdown by the government on asylum rights. In this hostile context, Emanuela Pistone decided to open the Small African Library (Piccola Biblioteca d’Africa) in Catania, Sicily, which is both a temporary passage and home to many migrants. Opened in 2014 as a space to challenge stereotypes about African cultures and a stage to give voice to migrants’ own narratives, today it represents one of the few hubs where locals and asylum-seekers can learn from each other, creating human bonds.”...

Quartz Africa, Sept. 21

Kensal Rise Library to reopen after epic community battle

Kensal Rise Library reopening

Kensal Rise Library—a public library in London that was opened by Mark Twain in 1900—will reopen September 28 with a guest appearance from long-time supporter and actor Tamsin Greig following an epic eight-year battle over its future. The library was shut down by Brent Council in 2011, sparking a huge campaign supported by writers including Alan Bennett, Philip Pullman, Jacqueline Wilson, and Zadie Smith. The building is being redeveloped into flats but with space on the ground floor for a community facility, run by the Friends of Kensal Rise Library....

The Bookseller (UK), Sept. 24; Mar. 24, 2014

UC Berkeley exhibit explores census history

Displays show the difference in US census questions regarding race over the years as part of the “Power and the People: The US Census and Who Counts” in the Brown Gallery in Doe Library. Photo by Violet Carter / UC Berkeley Library

Tor Haugan writes: “Outside a select group of researchers, demography nerds, genealogists, and dataphiles, the US census is often considered a staid and decidedly unsexy part of American civic life, like serving on a jury or paying taxes. But a richly detailed, incisive, and delightfully wonky new exhibit in the UC-Berkeley Doe Library is challenging that. ‘Power and the People: The US Census and Who Counts’ opened in September, providing an inside look at some of the fascinating stories and hidden gems relating to the nationwide decennial drive for data through maps, data, and other library treasures.”...

UC Berkeley Library News, Sept. 24
Dewey Decibel podcast

Helping children with mental health issues

Cover of The Goldfish Boy, by Lisa Thompson

Kaitlin Frick writes: “According to the Child Mind Institute’s 2018 Children’s Mental Health Report, anxiety affects 30% of children and adolescents, but 80% never get help. Untreated anxiety disorders, which typically manifest between ages 11–14, increase the risk for depression, school failure, substance abuse, and suicide. What can librarians do to assist young people and their caregivers in recognizing and dealing with mental health conditions? Being aware of the myriad mental health resources available is a valuable first step. Book recommendations are also helpful.”...

ALSC Blog, Sept. 24; Child Mind Institute, Sept. 19, 2018

Medieval manuscripts in The Name of the Rose film

Beatus page from the St. Omer Psalter (BL, Yates Thompson, MS 14) shown in the scriptorium scene in The Name of the Rose

Peter Kidd writes: “I ended my previous post with a modern copy of a medieval manuscript that had been made as a prop for the film The Name of the Rose, based on Umberto Eco’s book about a medieval manuscript, library, and murder mystery. I later decided to have a look at the film to see if I could see the facsimile manuscript’s appearance. I don’t have a copy of the full movie, but there is a scene (full of inaccuracies and anachronisms) available on YouTube (4:35) set in the monastery’s scriptorium, and just for fun I decided to take a series of screenshots to see how many of the manuscripts included in the scene are identifiable.” And there is an addendum....

Medieval Manuscripts Provenance, Sept. 14, 21–22; Cantvm Mensvrable Luis Henriques YouTube channel, Mar. 5

AL Direct is a free electronic newsletter emailed every Tuesday and Friday to personal members of the American Library Association.

Editor, AL Direct: George M. Eberhart,

Send news and feedback:

Direct ad inquiries to: Michael Stack,

AL Direct FAQ:

All links outside the ALA website are provided for informational purposes only. Questions about the content of any external site should be addressed to the administrator of that site.


AL Direct will not sell your email to outside parties, but your email may be shared with advertisers in this newsletter should you express interest in their products by clicking on their ads or content. If the advertisers choose to communicate with you by email, they are obligated to provide you with an opportunity to opt-out from future emails in compliance with the CAN-SPAM act of 2003 and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation of 2018. Read the ALA privacy policy.

American Libraries
50 E. Huron St.
Chicago, IL 60611
800-545-2433, ext. 4216

ISSN 1559-369X

ALA Publishing