I'd like to send a check to become a paying subscriber. Any way to do that?

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Jan 31, 2022·edited Jan 31, 2022Liked by John Warner

John, thanks for this important column and the great links/resources you include in it. I hope it's ok if I add a few more. The answer to "Who knows what to do in these situations?" might just be: librarians. They're smart, fierce and resourceful, and they've built a robust defense against book challenges and censorship.

The American Library Association (ALA)'s Office for Intellectual Freedom is a vital resource for book challenges. (Fun fact: The ALA began developing its intellectual freedom policies in the 1930s to help protect U.S. information institutions from the kind of censorship happening in totalitarian regimes. Guess some things never change.)

If you're an educator or administrator facing a book challenge, the ALA offers free, confidential challenge support: https://www.ala.org/tools/challengesupport, as well as free consulting services to help you develop intellectual freedom policies at your institution: https://www.ala.org/aboutala/offices/oif/consulting.

This weekend the ALA's publishing division sent out a reading list of books for educators who need support dealing with book challenges, including Pat R. Scales' "Teaching Banned Books: 32 Guides for Children and Teens, Second Edition" and "Books under Fire: A Hit List of Banned and Challenged Children's Books, Second Edition." Here's an additional wealth of resources about fighting censorship from the ALA website: https://www.ala.org/advocacy/fight-censorship.

Or, if you just want to learn more about book challenges and the threat they pose, check out the ALA's Intellectual Freedom Blog: https://www.oif.ala.org/oif/ or sign up for its weekly newsletter, which includes updates on book challenges: https://membership.informz.net/membership/pages/oif_ifnews_signup. Or spend a few minutes in the wild world of library Twitter. (@BannedBooksWeek is a great place to start.)

Also, please don't forgot to support your local libraries and librarians, including school libraries--Volunteer, donate and use/promote their services! My biggest fear is not just that educators will self-censor challenged materials, but that school districts will struggle to justify funding library programs if they're seen as threatening. School library programs are already massively underfunded, even though there's ample evidence that they improve educational outcomes for students, especially under-served students who may not have access to these materials otherwise. It's easy to forget in all this hullabaloo that these challenged books can be a lifeline for some of these kids.

Anecdotally, I volunteer at a school library in Florida, and our librarian said she had more challenges last year than ever before. She said the parents seem surprised they had to go through an official review process and that she didn't just walk up to the shelves and remove the books immediately. The entitlement runs deep, folks!

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Personal view on Maus: I had known about it for decades, but resisted reading it, because I didn't think I could take it. When I finally did read it, I could not believe that someone had produced such a beautiful, multi layered, honest rendering of the story. I now think that it should be on everyone's list, all over the planet. There is no one whose life would not be enriched by reading it.

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