Sources: Protecting Intellectual Freedom in Your School Library: Scenarios from the Front Lines

Larry Cooperman
2010 Reference and user services quarterly  
All libraries have to deal with the thorny and complicated issues of promoting intellectual freedom, but school libraries and media centers face more challenges to promoting and maintaining intellectual freedom than other types of libraries. Parents, concerned about the quality of their children' s education, present the greatest challenge to ensuring that the proper learning materials are available to all who wish to use them, whether or not parents (and school boards) approve. Pat R. Scales,
more » ... f the American Library Association' s Office of Intellectual Freedom, has written a timely and unique book that explains what intellectual freedom is in the context of a school media center, provides answers to common challenges to intellectual freedom, and offers methods for dealing effectively and successfully with challenges. The book covers materials selection, library management, programs, library access, labeling, privacy, and Internet access; the two appendixes address how to protect the First Amendment rights of minors and how to compose a proper intellectual freedom policy for school libraries and media centers. Scales' s format for each chapter consists of various case studies challenging media center intellectual freedom and the proper responses and procedures that media center librarians and staff should follow. Numerous court cases and their documentation provide detailed explanations and support for the case studies. One shortcoming of this valuable book is the format itself, with a case study placed in one area, a court case (with perhaps too-voluminous detail) in another area, and other documentary support in yet another area; the book lacks a coherent flow, which makes it difficult at times for the reader to follow effectively. Paring and editing the supporting documentation would allow for easier reading and comprehension of the case studies. The case studies themselves, however, are well worth the cost of the book, as they cover practically every intellectual freedom challenge imaginable. Scales has put much time and effort into ensuring that readers of her book learn how crucial intellectual freedom is in school media centers and how media center staff can protect it so that all parties-students, parents, and school board members-can have their opinions heard and addressed in the fairest way possible. In sum, despite its cumbersome format, Scales' s book is an important one that school media specialists will find timely and very helpful in answering the challenges of preserving intellectual freedom in school libraries and media centers.-Larry Cooperman, Librarian, Everglades University, Altamonte Springs, Florida Reference Renaissance: Current and Future Trends. Marie L. Radford and R. David Lankes, eds. New York: Neal-Schuman, 2010. 312p. $75 (ISBN 978-1-55570-680-7).
doi:10.5860/rusq.50n1.89 fatcat:bbpzqimxivfrtommiu6gvrvoxm