I'm interested in Intellectual Freedom and Ethics

Our commitments to intellectual freedom and ethics guide us through changes in politics, technology, and society. Join these sessions to hear how library professionals demonstrate our values in times of change. 

Interested in other topics? Check out the conference scheduler and use the drop down "Subject" search field or visit the interests pages to see other topics. 


Bullying, Trolling, and Doxxing, Oh My! Protecting our Advocacy and Public Discourse around Diversity and Social Justice
Saturday 10:30 – 11:30AM
Our institutions and professional organizations espouse diversity as a virtue and actively look for ways to promote and demonstrate these convictions. But this is not without personal risk and challenge to individuals, groups, and organizations who proactively and vocally engage in this work. This panel addresses a sadly common, but not very discussed, aspect of engaging in work on behalf of equity, diversity, and inclusion -- being targeted for harassment because of one's social justice work.

Intellectual Freedom 101
Saturday 10:30 - 11:30AM
At this one-hour fast-paced session, you’ll learn about the intellectual freedom activities of ALA and affiliated organizations (such as the Intellectual Freedom Round Table and the Freedom to Read Foundation) and get all the details on upcoming programs and events. Intellectual freedom leaders will share how you can get involved in a community dedicated to protecting the First Amendment and patrons’ rights.

Big Data in Libraries: Friend or Foe?
Saturday 1:00 - 2:00PM
The Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT) is proud to sponsor a moderated debate on the subject of “big data” analytics in the library world. The right of library users to keep private their individual use of library resources has traditionally been protected by federal, state and local privacy laws as well as ALA’s long-standing guidelines.

The Librarian's Dilemma: How Would You Respond?
Saturday 1:00 - 2:00PM
Library workers regularly encounter situations in the workplace when personal and professional ethics collide. These experiences, particularly while serving the public, require a significant amount of thoughtful reflection about ethics, professionalism, and librarianship. Through skits and subsequent discussions, attendees will walk with away with a deeper knowledge of the ethical dilemmas that can occur during everyday library work. Topics covered during this session may include patron behaviors, free speech, hate speech, censorship, and public use of library space.

Libraries and Learning Analytics: Identifying the Issues
Saturday 2:30 – 3:30PM
Higher education institutions have greatly increased pressure on their libraries and librarians to demonstrate quantitative impact of their resources, staffing, collections and programs in relation to learning outcomes, student success and student retention. This is built on a Big Data toolkit, which calls for warehousing large quantities of data for various analytical purposes. This reliance on one-to-one identified student information raises serious and wide-ranging moral issues and ethical quandaries for librarians.

Fake News or Free Speech: Is there a right to be misinformed?
Saturday 4:00 - 5:00PM
"Fake news" has always been part of the communication landscape. The difference now is that we are inundated with social media that makes it possible to disseminate "fake news” quickly and easily. In the past "fake news" was used as propaganda to isolate individuals or groups of people, destabilize governments, and foment anarchy. "Fake news" may be inaccurate, dishonest, misleading, intentionally untrue, and even intended to damage the paradigm of factual information. But is it illegal? Is it protected by the First Amendment? Can "fake news" -- or suppressing it -- undermine our democratic way of life?


Neutrality and Its Discontents: Exploring the Ethics of Librarianship in a Partisan World
Sunday 4:00 - 5:00PM
How do librarians achieve their values in a highly partisan information environment characterized by growing Ideological division?  This session  will analyze arguments against Library Neutrality presented in the book Questioning Library Neutrality (2008), in the recent discourse of critical librarianship, and in ALA presentations such as “’But We’re Neutral!’ ” (SF 2015); followed by a defense of Neutrality based on Wayne Bivens-Tatum’s book Libraries and the Enlightenment (2012), which traces the values of librarianship to ideals developed by 18th Century Enlightenment thinkers.


Can I Lose My Job For That? Intellectual Freedom and Employee Protections in the Library Workplace
Monday 10:30 - 11:30AM
Library work can engage or be motivated by our ethical, political, and moral beliefs, as well as our professional values. What happens when these values and beliefs are called into question during the course of our work in readers advisory, collection development, programming, instruction, or scholarship?