Your Name and Title: Edward Remus, Assistant Professor and Social Sciences Librarian
Library, School, or Organization Name: Northeastern Illinois University Libraries
Co-Presenter Name(s): N/A
Area of the World from Which You Will Present: United States of America
Language in Which You Will Present: English
Target Audience(s): Academic Librarians, Public Librarians, School Librarians
Short Session Description (one line): Librarians can curate the controversies reshaping our world — and we should.
Full Session Description (as long as you would like): Librarians can promote intellectual freedom by organizing public discussions of controversial topics featuring speakers with differing viewpoints. Librarians are well-positioned to undertake this work: we are trained to identify multiple approaches to a given issue and to ascertain a given speaker’s authority to address that issue; we are skilled in undertaking the practical steps needed to organize successful and well-attended library events; we are recognized by the public as stewards of unbiased information access in the public sphere; and we are supported by ALA advocacy documents that urge libraries to organize programs that represent multiple viewpoints, including viewpoints which the library does not endorse. Perhaps the greatest barrier standing between librarians and the organization of viewpoint-diverse events in libraries, however, is internal: we are uncertain about whether it is right, professionally and ethically, to ‘platform’ speakers whose viewpoints may conflict with the socially and politically progressive commitments of our institutions, our profession, and even our own individual politics. This session will present a politically liberal case for including both progressive and conservative viewpoints in library-initiated programs that address controversial topics. It will demonstrate models of successful library programs (both public and academic) that accomplish this and will present practical, step-by-step guides to organizing such programs at your library.
Websites / URLs Associated with Your Session: The following 2022 conference presentation offers a step-by-step guide to organizing viewpoint-diverse library events: https://commons.erau.edu/dls-conference/2022/presentation/2/