October 2014 update:
• Arce v. Huppenthal: The Freedom to Read Foundation continues to support and monitor this litigation involving Tucson’s Mexican American Studies program. The removal of books from class-rooms was just the start of a multi-year journey; FTRF’s amicus brief is currently in front of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. We've created a special page with details on the case.
• Antigone Books v. Horne: FTRF was founded in 1969 with the under¬standing that laws threatening our basic First Amendment rights must be challenged—particularly if they impact libraries’ right to distribute, and library users’ right to receive, constitutionally protected information. Last month FTRF filed suit in Arizona to overturn the state’s “nude image” ban. It’s a law with wide-ranging ramifications for libraries, bookstores, journalists, educators, and artists. The law as written could apply to artistic, news, and educational images published online and in print. Simply put, FTRF and our co-plaintiffs believe the law is too vague and overbroad to pass constitutional muster—and puts librarians at risk of prosecution. You can read much more about the case in last month’s issue of FTRF News (which FTRF members receive as a benefit) and on the FTRF Blog. We also have created a fact sheet on the case to answer questions some have raised about our involvement in the suit.
• SBAL v. Driehaus: This summer, the Supreme Court affirmed an amicus brief filed by FTRF in support of the ability to challenge potentially unconstitutional laws before they are implemented. Many of FTRF’s key cases were successful because FTRF brought suit before anyone could be charged under laws later found unconstitutional. In this case, a federal court indeed overturned the “false campaign speech” law in question.
• Banned Books Week brings significant awareness of the dangers of censorship. The Judith F. Krug Memorial Fund’s seven Banned Books Week grant recipients sponsored dozens of innovative, informative, and provocative events and programs. One example: Columbus State Community College librarians created an online “What Banned Book Are You?” quiz that was shared by over 300,000 people!
• Challenges to library materials: The Freedom to Read Foundation supports OIF’s efforts to help individual librarians facing challenges to library and school materials by providing crucial legal information and assistance when needed and advocacy, encouragement, and support for teachers, librarians, and community members who are resisting efforts to censor books. Some of these cases, such as the successful defense of The House of the Spirits in Watauga County, N.C., gain national attention; others are handled in the utmost confidence. Either way, FTRF will continue to be there for librarians in need.
• Education: This semester brought us the first-ever collaborative graduate course sponsored by the FTRF and the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science. “Intellectual Freedom and Censorship,” taught by Prof. Emily Knox, has brought together students from around the country to learn intellectual freedom principles in both theory and practice. FTRF helped coordinate guest speakers, provided books to the students, and made available articles, speeches, and interviews from our archives. FTRF also provided course scholarships to two outstanding applicants.
September 2013 update:
• When word got out
that the Chicago Public Schools (CPS)
had ordered the removal of Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel Persepolis
from classrooms and school libraries,
FTRF worked with local students, librarians, teachers, and concerned citizens
to restore access. We contacted CPS
administrators and the local media, and filed a Freedom of Information Act
for details of the removal decision. Since then, the district has confirmed that the
book will remain available
in libraries and for instructional use above
the seventh-grade level.
• Via the Judith F.
Krug Memorial Fund
, the Foundation provided seven grants to libraries and
community groups for Banned Books Week Read-Outs
. These grants, in addition to
providing much-needed support for wonderful grassroots events, helped bring
awareness of the Freedom to Read Foundation—and Judith Krug’s legacy—to
communities across the country.
• In our most
recent case, filed in August, the Freedom to Read Foundation joined with other
free speech organizations in filing an amicus
brief with the US Supreme Court
asking it to grant certiorari
in a case involving a New York State tax that, we believe,
unconstitutionally discriminates against certain entertainment performances
because they’re perceived to be "low value” speech. You can read more about this
case in the upcoming issue of Freedom to
Read Foundation News
, which is a benefit of your membership.
• One of FTRF’s
proudest moments this year came in January, when it was announced that the
Davis County, Utah, Public School System would reinstate
Patricia Polacco’s In Our Mothers’ House
, unrestricted to
school library shelves. FTRF worked very
closely with the ACLU of Utah—providing expert legal assistance and other resources
to ensure the strongest case possible. Our behind-the-scenes efforts
contributed to the quick settlement by the school board.
October 2012 update
We just finished a tremendously successful Banned
Books Week! This year was FTRF’s first
as an official Banned Books Week sponsor, and with the eight Judith Krug Memorial
Fund event grants, our record-breaking social media presence, and speaking
engagements around the country, FTRF’s profile was higher than ever. The word about the important work FTRF does is
spreading farther than ever!
Also in 2012 we have been increasingly focused on
the issue of filtering. We’re seeing
more and more cases where these technological tools are blocking our right to
engage, learn, and grow—and abridge our First Amendment rights. Recently we worked with a Missouri consortium
to ensure their filters’ default settings didn't unconstitutionally
discriminate against LGBT students. Our
general counsel, Theresa Chmara, issued a memorandum about the legal context of
filtering, in order to guide libraries going forward. And we were proud to be a national
promotional partner of the American Association of School Librarians’ Banned
Websites Awareness Day, which brought the issue to the forefront for school librarians,
students, and teachers.