Banned Books Symposium

Date: Saturday, March 5, 2022
Time: 9:00am-12pm
Location: online

This virtual half-day conference will have presentations discussing a variety of issues and occurrences surrounding books being banned or challenged. Sessions will not be recorded. 

Schedule of events:
9am: Welcome & Introductions
9:05am: Keynote: John Piche, Outreach Librarian for Heights Libraries in Cleveland, OH: "Defending Discussions : the 1619 Project"
10:15am: Concurrent breakout sessions (see below for details)
11:00am: ALA Presentation: Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom: "The Best Defense”

This event is provided at no charge by the following sponsors:
Co-sponsored by Rampano Catskill Library System, Mount Saint Mary College Kaplan Family Library, Southeastern NY Library Resources Council, and the School Library Systems of Dutchess, Orange-Ulster, Sullivan, and Ulster.

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Featured Presentations:
"Defending Discussions : the 1619 Project"
John Piche, Outreach Librarian for Heights Libraries in Cleveland, OH

The August 2019 publication in the New York Times magazine, the 1619 Project, almost immediately generated strong opinions. Praise was followed by strong criticism​, because the 1619 Project sought to reframe the legacy of slavery as the dominant factor in American political, cultural, and social spheres. After many customers expressed interest in the Project, Heights Libraries launched a 1619 Project Discussion group. The program became one of the Library’s most popular programs, ​and just ​like the 1619 Project itself, the program ​faced a ​wide variety of challenges. ​From Letters to the Editor and social media campaigns calling for the end of the program, to managing unexpected turnout and program logistics, program lead John Piche’ will discuss these issues and how they were resolved. 

"The Best Defense"
Deborah Caldwell-Stone, American Library Association
Even as librarians strive to provide their communities with diverse resources and work to ensure that the library is a welcoming and inclusive place for everyone in the community, there is a growing movement to censor diverse materials using a number of strategies, including legislation. This presentation will describe these contemporary efforts to censor library materials and how to proactively respond by adopting policies that protect the library users' right to receive information and the librarian's right to provide books and other resources that meet library users' information needs. The discussion will provide an overview of the legal principles that support these policies.

Breakout sessions:
"All Aboard: Community Buy-in for Diverse Collections"
Whitney Etchison, Severn School

Diana Ford, Severn School,
Kristen Kwisnek, Severn School

Our preschool through fifth grade library serves predominantly white and wealthy families. This year we have worked with our Lower School Head, Director of DEI and Director of Communications to develop a community-centered strategy to get parent buy-in for books in the collection that address topics such as gender identity, racism, and undocumented immigrants. Through the use of our school website and grade-level parent outreach, we have leaned into this educational opportunity for our community and created an avenue for more open dialogue about these topics. Our ultimate goal is to help parents use books to have conversations about complex, often difficult, issues in age-appropriate ways with our younger children. 

"Unbanning the Banned Books"
Morgan Strand, Nyack Library
Tracy Dunstan, Nyack Library
Rosemary Farrell, Nyack Library

Banned Books week is more than just bookmarks and flyers. Learn how the Nyack Library has created exciting and engaging year-round programming that exposes patrons young and old to these challenged books.

"What's Got 'em All Riled Up Anyway?"
Kathryn Pew, Manor ISD, Texas Library Association
Strategies for Deescalating Book Challenge Emotions and Avoiding Drama
This will be a combination of presentation and audience participation. Through self-management of our own emotions and by validating the emotions of others and taking steps to address fears in a constructive manner, many negative out-of-control situations related to book challenges can be avoided. Case studies, audience analysis and role plays will be incorporated.

 "Getting Comfortable with the Uncomfortable: Teaching Carmen Maria Machado's Her Body and Other Parties to Adolescents"
Alexis McBride, Assistant Professor of Education at MSMC
Winner of the Shirley Jackson Award and a finalist for the National Book Award, Carmen Maria Machado's Her Body and Other Parties has nonetheless been named on lists of banned books in school districts across the US. What is it about this collection of 8 short stories that has elicited such a fearful reception? Machado's rendering of womanhood, infused with both a science fiction and fantastical lens, also incorporates a trauma-informed perspective that could potentially prove useful for adolescent instruction. Through highly evocative prose, Machado's text lays the groundwork for discussions involving sexual violence and body dysmorphic disorder (BDD). This session will explore suggested procedures for using Machado's text with high school learners, as well as thoughtful ways to integrate the broader themes of the text into productive class discussions.