The New Inquisition: Understanding and Managing Intellectual Freedom Challenges

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How can you become an effective advocate for intellectual freedom and patron privacy while maintaining a positive relationship with diverse elements of your community? Drawing on his experience as library director, this author advocates assuming a proactive role in every library function, from collection building to community outreach. This approach helps you understand the people who challenge library materials—as individuals and as members of various groups—turning enemies into allies and building an intellectual, freedom-friendly community. You'll learn what materials get challenged and why and how you can effectively respond to challenges while meeting diverse community needs. Here are stories from the frontlines, practical guidelines on policies and procedures as well as common-sense tips on how to maintain your cool while dealing with specific groups or individuals—all presented with common sense and humor. If you have been struggling with challenges and wonder how you can uphold your ideals while dealing with harsh realities, this is the book you have been waiting for.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This is a fresh, new and timely look at an old issue. LaRue puts a spirited case for dealing face-on with challenges - not being defensive, meeting the emotion, getting the tone right, offering alternatives, discussing the issues, following up the user's concerns, accepting that at times the matter will involve senior managers. Even though the context is U.S. public libraries, the issues here will translate into public libraries anywhere, and into school and children's libraries too. It is a real-life book about meeting challenges in an adult professional way."


Library Review

"[E]xamines the history of censorship, the fundamental role of libraries in defending freedom of information and the core documents of our profession….[a] sensible, practical approach to understanding and connecting with your community as a solid foundation to dealing with challenges."


Urban Libraries Council Newsletter

"Reading the US Constitution periodically is a good idea, particularly while you are waiting for a special interest group bent on censorship to show up for a loud meeting. LaRue, a county-level director of libraries and therefore a battle-scarred veteran of the intellectual freedom wars, gives practical advice about resolving conflict with those who would limit access to certain information. He gives an historical perspective on the banning and burning of books, including the ever-present question of what children should be allowed to learn, the influence of certain religious and social groups, and the generation-driven aspect. With each he gives ways to find common ground and reasons to read together, and also lists ways to get the community involved in issues such as extending the network you already have, getting media involved, using your reputation and even working your way through the rubber chicken circuit."


Reference & Research Book News

"Using his own experience, as well as his sense of humor, LaRue describes the kinds of challenges libraries typically face and the most effective ways to respond to them and even head them off. Dealing with intellectual freedom challenges may never become one of your favorite parts of the job…. [b]ut at least, armed with this book, you'll be better prepared"


American Libraries

"La Rue does what librarians do best--research. The book begins with a brief history of book censorship and moves to the origins of the Constitution and the Library Bill of Rights. With lively writing about relevant and current issues, the reader is engaged with example letters from concerned patrons provided. La Rue also includes Sample Request for Reconsideration forms and responses to past patron concerns, all of which are excellent resources for frontline librarians as well as the new generation of library students concerned about challenges to intellectual freedom."


Colorado Association of Libraries

"James LaRue offers fresh advice on dealing with requests to pull books from public library collections. In an engaging anecdotal style, LaRue recounts numerous examples of real-life intellectual freedom challenges he has encountered during his years as director of a Colorado library system….LaRue advises preparation, but this book's most important contribution is its emphasis on the establishment of trust. LaRue;s most practical advice, and the approach that informs all aspects of this text, is, know your users…..The New Inquisition is an entertaining and valuable read: LaRue's narrative voice is wholly likeable and reasonable. The book contains a good index and a short and very useful reference and resource list. It will make a good companion to other texts on the topic and is recommended for public libraries and academic libraries with a library studies program."


Reference & User Services Quarterly

"Public libraries must prepare for intellectual freedom challenges by instituting policies outlining their organizational procedure for reconsideration requests. With established policies and procedures in place, library staff can approach customer challenges with confidence and composure, while remembering to treat them the respect and dignity they deserve. The New Inquisition is recommended for all frontline library staff and highly recommended for library administrators and managers who respond to formal intellectual challenges."


Public Libraries

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591582854
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/30/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 174
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

JAMES LARUE is Director of the Douglas County Libraries in Colorado. He is a columnist and frequent contributor to local and national publications, and frequently speaks on the topic of censorship. His awards include: Colorado Librarian of the Year (1998), the Julie J. Boucher Award for Intellectual Freedom (2000), Castle Rock Business Person of the Year (2003), and the National Council of Teachers of English/Support for the Learning and Teaching of English Intellectual Freedom Award (2004).

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction: The Blue Line     xi
The Need for and Purpose of This Book     xiii
Scope and Audience     xiii
Background: A Historical Perspective     1
History of Censorship: The Burning of Books     1
Definitions     3
The Constitution and the First Amendment: Foundations of Intellectual Freedom     5
The Library Bill of Rights     15
But What about the Children?     19
Obscenity     20
Religion and Libraries     27
Big 16     28
Madonna     30
Focus on the Family     34
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints     44
The Difference between FOF and the Mormons     49
Reading with the Enemy     50
Generations     57
Types and Life Cycles     59
Public Education: A Profile     61
Focus on the Family: Redefining the Mission     65
Anything Goes?     67
Responding to Challenges     71
Who Are They?     71
The Initial Response     74
The Written Responses: Letters     80
When the Issue Doesn't Die     84
Beyond the Basics: Taking It to the Street     89
The Pyramid Model     89
Geographic Information Systems     94
Becoming a Player     95
The Rubber Chicken Circuit     99
Public Speaking and Writing     99
Using Your Reputation     100
Newspaper Columns     101
Other Media     103
Politics     104
Professional Activity     107
Conclusion: The Fourth Turning?     109
Kid Stuff     109
I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag...     109
Tancredo and Immigration     113
There Is Always a New, a Next Inquisition     115
Appendix     117
Letters     117
Columns     144
References and Resources     149
Reference List     149
Intellectual Freedom Resources     150
Index     153
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