August 15, 2018

SRRT Action Council Statement on Hate Speech and Libraries

Hate is on the rise in the United States. According to a report issued this year by the Southern Poverty Law Center, in 2017 the number of hate groups nationally increased by 4% from 2016; the number of neo-Nazi groups rose by 22%; the number of anti-Muslim groups grew for the third straight year; the number of anti-immigrant groups jumped from 14 to 22; and various hate websites experienced a phenomenal growth in page views and subscribers.(1) Meanwhile, the frequency of hate crimes is also increasing. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Hate Crimes Statistics report for 2017 noted an almost 5% rise from 2015 to 2016, and a 10% increase from 2014. (2) And the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University has found a 12.5% growth in the incidence of hate crimes reported by police in America’s largest ten cities in 2017. (3)

In this context, in December 2017 the Office of Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association (ALA) posted a web page on “Hate Speech and Hate Crimes” devoted to explaining at great length the constitutional protections enjoyed by hate speech, and that “there is no ‘hate speech’ exception to the first amendment.” (4) Then, in June 2018, without advance publicity or discussion, ALA’s Council voted to insert “hate speech” into the list on the “Meeting Rooms: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights” page of the types of speech that must be permitted in any public libraries that provide meeting rooms to the public. Also, it inserted “hate groups” into the list of the types of organizations which cannot be prevented “from discussing their activities in the same facilities.” (5) We believe these changes were neither necessary nor wise. The “Meeting Rooms” statement that a library “cannot discriminate or deny access based upon the viewpoint of speakers or the content of their speech” was already sufficiently clear, and implicitly included both “hate speech” and “hate groups.” Beyond that, the emphasis on “hate speech” and “hate groups” in both pages resembles the extension of an invitation to groups that are deeply hostile to the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion that ALA rightly describes as “central to intellectual freedom.” (6) With others, we urge ALA to take down the “Hate Speech” page and rescind the revisions of the “Meeting Rooms” page.

At the same time, we cannot agree with colleagues who are calling upon libraries to ban hate speech and upon ALA to encourage such a ban. (7) For us, the issue does not involve the “rights” of fascists, neofascists, white supremacists, anti-Semites, or others who actively use hate to target specific groups. It is a question of the most effective method for combatting those groups, their ideas, and their activities. Our concern is that any calls to limit the far Right by means of laws or rules are doomed to be hopelessly ineffective and dangerously counterproductive.

Over the last 100 years, numerous laws, regulations, and programs have been implemented in the U.S to restrict civil liberties. These have included the Espionage and Sedition Acts, the Deportation Law of 1918, the Smith Act, Harry Truman’s 1947 Executive Order 9835, and COINTELPRO. In virtually every case these have been employed mainly, if not exclusively, against progressive movements and organizations on the Left.(8) We believe this is not accidental. The state in the U.S. is not neutral. It predominantly defends and promotes the power and privileges of the top 1% of wealth, and it seeks to destroy any threat to that power and those privileges. It is inevitable that any effort to restrict the liberties of any group or political current will be turned against progressive movements and the Left. It’s worth noting that one bill currently before Congress that is directed against alleged “hate speech,” is the “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act.” As the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has stated, it would equate “constitutionally protected criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, making it likely that free speech will be chilled on campuses.” (9)

Most public libraries in the U.S. are directly affiliated with municipal or county governments. (10) All are heavily dependent on governmental funding, and are highly responsive to the pressures of local, state, and federal governments. There may be communities in the U.S. where public libraries can exclude only groups of the far Right. But in most libraries, we can expect that any ban of hate groups and hate speech will be extended under internal or external pressure to include groups like Students for Justice in Palestine, Black Lives Matter, and various Left organizations. Such a ban might take the form of simply excluding all political meetings from the library.

At the same time, groups of the far Right will capitalize directly upon any attempt to ban their meetings. Although these groups are mortal enemies of democracy, in the face of attempts to prohibit their meetings they will immediately present themselves as “defenders of free speech.” Public attention will shift from a focus on their hateful views and actions to the attempted “violation of their democratic rights” by the Left. The far Right will receive a wider hearing for its message, and the Left will be depicted and more widely perceived as the real enemy of free speech.

Finally, the logic behind the effort to ban meetings or gatherings of hate groups runs directly counter to what is most needed. We believe the only effective way to push back against the Right is through a mass movement involving ever larger numbers of working people and those who have been most oppressed. In contrast, attempts to bar hate groups from libraries exclude popular participation and transfer the struggle into the hands of a few administrators tasked with applying regulations to room applications.

This does not mean there is nothing that ALA, libraries, librarians, or library staff can do to fight hate speech and hate groups. By its statements on behalf of democracy, equity, inclusion, and diversity, ALA has already taken a side in this struggle, as have the many libraries that have attempted to implement these principles. But more can be done. We urge ALA to take the following additional measures:

  • Rescind the recent revisions to the “Meeting Rooms” policy and take down the “Hate Speech” page created in December 2017.
  • Initiate a broader discussion of these issues within ALA.
  • Encourage libraries to adopt and post statements on behalf of equity, diversity, and inclusion. (11)
  • Encourage public libraries to adopt and post policies requiring that all meetings of community organizations in the library must be non-exclusionary, public, and publicly announced.
  • Encourage libraries to actively approach community groups doing anti-oppression work-especially organizations of the most marginalized (12) populations-alerting them to library resources and services and making them aware of the availability of meeting spaces.
  • Encourage libraries to collect resources and develop guides devoted to the history of fascism and the struggle against it.

More importantly, we believe librarians and library staff can participate effectively in the struggle against hate speech and hate groups. Some activities we recommend include:

  • Joining and participating in organizations and coalitions devoted to a mass action perspective of combatting hate speech.
  • Providing reference assistance to these groups.
  • Seeking out and collecting materials and preparing guides to resources on the struggle against the far Right.
  • Helping to organize and participating in demonstrations and picket lines against gatherings of hate groups.
  • Attending and monitoring any meetings of hate groups that are held in libraries.
    Confronting and challenging the arguments and bigotry of hate groups.


  1. Heidi Beirich and Susy Buchanan, “2017: The Year in Hate and Extremism,” Intelligence Report, Southern Poverty Law Center, 2018 Spring Issue, February 11, 2018,….
  2. Reuters Staff, “U.S. hate crimes rise for second straight year: FBI,” Reuters, November 1, 2017,….
  3. “Report to the Nation: Hate Crimes Rise in U.S. Cities and Counties in Time of Division & Foreign Interference,” Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, California State University, San Bernardino, 2018, p. 3,….
  4. “Hate Speech and Hate Crime,” ALA, updated December 2017,
  5. “Meeting Rooms: An interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights,” ALA , Adopted July 2, 1991, by the ALA Council; amended June 26, 2018.….
  7. This position, for example, is clearly suggested by the “Petition to Revise ALA’s Statement on Hate Speech & Hate Crime” currently circulating.….
  8. The Espionage and Sedition Acts, adopted during World War I, ostensibly to combat German espionage and sedition, were employed entirely against Socialists, Wobblies, and pacifists who spoke out against the war. Nearly 2,000, including the Socialist leader Eugene V. Debs, were arrested under this repressive legislation during the war. The Deportation Law of 1918 was directed explicitly against aliens who opposed organized government, advocated the overthrow of the government, or belonged to any organization that advocated overthrow. It was the basis for the infamous Palmer raids in which 10,000 radicals were arrested, and hundreds were deported. The Smith Act against “fifth columnists,” which passed in 1940 in anticipation of World War II, was employed against leaders of the Socialist Workers Party during the war, and against the Communist Party afterwards. No fascists served prison time under the Smith Act. Harry Truman’s 1947 Executive Order 9835 requiring the screening of federal civil service employees for “loyalty” and allegedly directed against “Totalitarian, Fascist, Communist or subversive” organizations, inaugurated the McCarthy era, in which hundreds of Americans were stigmatized, fired from their jobs, and imprisoned for alleged connections to the Communist Party. Although the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) of the 1950s to 1970s was employed against some groups on the Right, its main purpose was to disrupt the legal activities of progressive movements and groups on the Left: socialist and communist organizations, the anti-war movement, the civil rights movement, the Black Panther Party, etc.
  9. “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act,” ACLU, Another bill currently under consideration is the “Israel Anti-Boycott Act,” again justified as a measure to combat anti-Semitism. The ACLU has explained that it could be used to sanction supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) for some statements and actions. BDS is a global campaign attempting to apply economic and political pressure on Israel to comply with international law. “How the Israel Anti-Boycott Act Threatens First Amendment Rights,” ACLU, July 26, 2017.…. See also Brian Hauss, “The New Israel Anti-Boycott Act Still Unconstitutional,” ACLU, March 7, 2018,….
  10. Public Library Structure and Organization, National Center for Education Statistics, Technical Report, March 1996, pp. 4, 11,…
  11. Some relevant language can be found in the ALA Policy Manual,, Section B3.
  12. “Different groups of people within a given culture, context and history at risk of being subjected to multiple discrimination due to the interplay of personal characteristics or grounds, such as sex, gender, age, ethnicity, religion or belief, health status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, education or income, or living in various geographic localities.” European Institute for Gender Equality,
March 7, 2018

CFP: Special Collections as Sites of Contestation

CFP: Special Collections as Sites of Contestation

Call for Proposals

Editor: Mary Kandiuk

Publisher: Library Juice Press

Special collections are actively acquired by libraries or received by donation. Increasingly, special collections are emerging as sites of contestation. Funding and political choices often underpin acquisition, access and promotion of these collections resulting in unequal representation, biased interpretations and suppressed narratives. This collection of essays will interrogate library practices relating to special collections. The essays will explore the reinterpretation and resituating of special collections held by libraries, examine the development and stewardship of special collections within a social justice framework, and describe the use of critical practice by libraries and librarians to shape and negotiate the acquisition, cataloguing, promotion and display of special collections.
Proposals are invited for chapters relating to special collections held by all types of libraries in all countries. Special collections are library and archival materials encompassing a wide range of formats and subject matters. They are usually distinguished by their historical, societal, cultural or monetary value, uniqueness or rarity, and are housed separately from a library’s main circulating collection with a commitment to preservation and access. Specific topics of interest include but are not limited to:

– Evolving understandings and interpretations of historical materials in special collections.
– Censorship, self-censorship, academic freedom, intellectual freedom and special collections.
– The use of critical practice to resist cultural hegemony in the development of special collections.
– The challenges of developing contemporary special collections relating to social justice.
– Examining special collections through the lens of the marginalized and disempowered.
– The representation of unpopular or radical views in special collections.
– Contested interpretations of special collections.
– Safe spaces and special collections.
– Controversial exhibits relating to special collections.
– Information literacy and special collections employing a social justice framework.
– Decolonizing and indigenizing special collections.
– Donors, funding, power and politics and their influence on the development of special collections.
– Development and stewardship of special collections relating but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, politics, religion, war, conflict, genocide, sex, pornography, racism, discrimination, heritage, memory, and identity within a social justice framework.
– Any aspect of acquisition, curation, structure, cataloguing, digitization, presentation, arrangement, promotion, display and instruction relating to special collections using a social justice or critical practice framework.


Chapter proposals should contain 1) an abstract of 500-750 words describing the proposed contribution and 2) a brief biographical statement about the author(s). Proposals are due June 1, 2018. Please direct all submissions and inquiries to Mary Kandiuk (


June 1, 2018: Deadline for 500-750 abstract proposing a chapter.
July 1, 2018: Notification of acceptance of proposed chapter.
December 1, 2018: Deadline for submitting full chapter manuscript.

About the Editor

Mary Kandiuk is the Visual Arts, Design & Theatre Librarian and a Senior Librarian at York University in Toronto, Canada. She holds a Master of Arts in English and a Master of Library Science from the University of Toronto. She is the author of two bibliographies of secondary criticism relating to Canadian literature published by Scarecrow Press and co-author of Digital Image Collections and Services (ARL Spec Kit, 2013). She is co-editor of the collection In Solidarity: Academic Librarian Labour Activism and Union Participation in Canada published by Library Juice Press in 2014. Her most recent publications include articles on the topic of academic freedom. For more information see:

Please share widely.

March 10, 2017

CFP: Allied Media Conference 2017

Call for Proposals
Radical Libraries, Archives, and Museums
Allied Media Conference 2017

Conference Dates: June 15-18, 2017
Location: Detroit, MI

Submission Deadline: March 12, 2017

Libraries, archives, and museums (LAM) are more than places for collecting and storing books and exhibiting artifacts. LAMs can be living, transformative spaces where artists, educators, technologists, and activists convene to access, document, share, organize, and find solutions to issues that impact their communities. We welcome proposals for sessions that will be accessible to participants of all ages and backgrounds, and interpret the work of galleries, libraries, archives, and museums through the lens of media-based organizing. In previous years, we have covered subjects such as restorative justice practices in teen librarianship, starting seed libraries, zine libraries, tool libraries, and community archives that center the narratives of people of color.

We are especially interested in sessions that:
– Challenge traditional gallery, library, archive, and museum structures, institutions, and organizations
– Discuss best practices for community-based organizations that provide books, technology or internet access, creative materials, or collaborative opportunities centering people of color, queer and gender nonconforming folks, disabled people, incarcerated people, and undocumented people
– Consider the role of librarians, archivists, and curators in strengthening the knowledge, culture, and collective memory of communities impacted by social and economic disparity and state sanctioned violence
– Address racism, white supremacy, and issues of inclusion in galleries, libraries, archives, or museums

Beyond the themes outlined above, if the idea of radical libraries, archives and museums resonates with you, we’d love to hear from you. The deadline to submit proposals is March 12th. Please feel free to reach out to me ( or one of the other track coordinators on the Allied Media website if you have any questions.

June 27, 2016

Images from our presence at ALA in Orlando

Some pics from our booth at ALA…

Our booth, with Michelle Montalbano


Our booth, with Lacey Torge


Caroline Gardner and Liz Lieutenant

Aliqae Geraci, holding one of her favorites, In Solidarity: Academic Librarian Labour Activism and Union Participation in Canada

Kyle Shockey, future LJP author, and friend (who is perhaps also a future LJP author)

Laura-Edythe Coleman, holding a book she has a chapter in: Progressive Community Action: Critical Theory and Social Justice in Library and Information Science

Mark Alfino and Laura Koltutsky, accepting the 2016 Eli M. Oboler Award for their book, The Library Juice Press Handbook of Intellectual Freedom

Shaundra Walker, holding a copy of Where are All the Librarians of Color?, which she has a chapter in. Shaundra is also the instructor for a Library Juice Academy course: Cultural Competence for the Academic Librarian

Madeleine Charney, instructor for the LJA course running next month, The Sustainability Movement on Campus: Forming a Library Action Plan for Engagement, and contributor to the book she is holding up, Focus on Educating for Sustainability: Toolkit for Academic Libraries

Packing up to go home, saying “See you next time!” to Jen Hoyer.

September 25, 2015

A few items

It’s been a little under the radar, but this blog is maintaining a list of calls for papers, with links and deadlines. CFPs are deleted after the deadlines pass. It’s a good way to find out about conference and publication opportunities. The link is always going to be over on the right on this blog.

The Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies (JCLIS) has a twitter account: @JournalCritLIS

Library Juice Academy news:

  • Coming soon: a new Certificate in Library Instruction, consisting of a set of required and elective courses.
  • Package deal for the four courses in the Painless Research Series
  • The next sequence of the XML/RDF certificate series will start in February. Registration in those courses will be open soon.
  • We’re restarting Deborah Schmidle’s Certificate in Library Management series in March. Registration in those courses will open soon.
March 6, 2015

New book: Queers Online: LGBT Digital Practices in Libraries, Archives, and Museums

Queers Online: LGBT Digital Practices in Libraries, Archives, and Museums

Editor: Rachel Wexelbaum
Price: $35.00
Published: March 2015
ISBN: 978-1-936117-79-6
Printed on acid-free paper

Number six in the Litwin Books Series on Gender and Sexuality in Information Studies, Emily Drabinski, Series Editor

In the 21st century, there are more LGBT information resources than ever before. The challenges that arise both from the explosion of born-digital materials and the transformation of materials from physical to electronic formats has implications for access to these resources for future generations. Along with preservation concerns, making these numerous digital LGBT resources available to users becomes more difficult when they swim in an ocean of websites, EBooks, digitized objects, and other digital resources. Librarians, archivists, and museum curators must engage in a range of new digital practices to preserve and promote these numerous LGBT resources.

A “digital practice” in libraries, archives, and museums includes, but is not limited to, the digitization of physical objects; the creation of online resources and services that improve access to these objects; the use of online catalogs, databases, and metadata to categorize such objects; and the online social media and Web 2.0 tools used to connect users to these resources. Information professionals engaged in digital practices must also understand the information needs, online searching behaviors, and online communication styles of their patrons in order to make them aware of the digital resources that may be of use to them.

This is the first book to specifically address the digital practices of LGBT librarians, archivists, and museum curators, as well as the digital practices of seekers and users of LGBT resources and services. More broadly, this collection aims to address these issues in the context of the technical, social, economic, legal, and political challenges of creating LGBT-specific digital collections, electronic resources and services.

October 9, 2012

Naomi House interviews Rory Litwin

Naomi House of (I Need a Library Job) has just posted an interview with me about Library Juice Press and Library Juice Academy. I enjoyed doing the interview. Thanks, Naomi!

September 20, 2012

New Bloggers at Library Juice

I’ve just added four new people to share in the blogging responsibilities here at Library Juice: Aliqae Geraci, Maria Accardi, Lua Gregory, and Shana Higgins. This adds to the five bloggers I added a year or so ago: Erik Estep, Melissa Morrone, Alison Lewis, Alan Mattlage, and Terry Epperson. Here is who the new bloggers are:

Aliqae Geraci is the Industrial and Labor Relations Research Librarian at Cornell University’s Hospitality, Labor and Management Library. A former public librarian and labor researcher, she is a co-founder of Save NYC Libraries and serves on the Board of Directors of Urban Librarians Unite. Aliqae speaks and writes about library advocacy and library workers’ organizations, and is the co-author of the book Grassroots Library Advocacy (ALA Editions, 2012).

Maria T. Accardi is Assistant Librarian and Coordinator of Instruction at the Library at Indiana University Southeast. Maria holds a BA in English from Northern Kentucky University, an MA in English from the University of Louisville, and an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh. She served as a co-editor of and contributor to Critical Library Instruction: Theories and Methods (Library Juice Press, 2010), and is the author of the forthcoming Feminist Pedagogy for Library Instruction (Library Juice Press, 2013).

Lua Gregory is the Instruction and Educational Technologies Librarian at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and holds an MLIS degree from University of California, Los Angeles. Before moving to Boston, she was an Assistant Librarian at the University of Redlands for several years where she met Shana Higgins and together, began teaching, presenting and researching issues such as censorship, free speech, and the social justice undercurrents of information literacy. She is co-editor of Information Literacy and Social Justice: Radical Professional Praxis (Library Juice Press, 2013). Lua can be reached at

Shana Higgins is currently the Education, and Area & Interdisciplinary Studies Librarian at University of Redlands. She earned an MLS degree, as well as an MA in Latin American & Caribbean Studies, from Indiana University, Bloomington. She has had the great fortune to work with Lua Gregory, a remarkable partner in teaching, presenting, and researching issues such as censorship, free speech, and aspects of social justice inherent in information literacy. She is co-editor of Information Literacy and Social Justice: Radical Professional Praxis (Library Juice Press, 2013). Shana can be reached at

I’m very happy to be adding Aliqae, Maria, Lua, and Shana as fellow bloggers here, so join me in welcoming them. 🙂

December 24, 2011

Comments fixed

There was a problem with a spam-blocking plugin in the back-end of this blog that was preventing people from making comments. The problem is now fixed, so if you feel like commenting on any recent posts, have at it.


July 29, 2011

Meet the Library Juice bloggers

After doing Library Juice as a solo project for twelve and a half years, I have decided it should be a team blog, and I have recruited a group of co-bloggers. There are now six people behind the Library Juice blog: me (Rory Litwin), Alison Lewis, Erik Estep, Terry Epperson, Alan Mattlage, and Melissa Morrone. Their one-paragraph bios should give an idea of where the blog may be headed.

Please welcome the new team members to the Library Juice blog.


June 7, 2008

Library Juice Press / Litwin Books Reception at ALA in Anaheim

Are you going to be at the ALA Conference in Anaheim later this month?

Litwin Books / Library Juice Press will be holding a reception. I will be showing the eight books we have published so far and networking with readers and authors. I look forward to meeting you at the reception if you’re interested in our books.

I’ll be holding the reception in my regular old hotel room mega suite at the Anaheim Marriott on Saturday night, June 28th, from 8pm to 11pm. I’ll be serving wine and cheese for you (until I run out). I expect to have some materials you can take back to your library if you are into collecting that sort of thing at conferences, and as always, I’ll be networking like a madman.

I don’t have a room number yet at the Anaheim Marriott, but you can ask for Rory Litwin at the main desk, and they should give you the room number.

Looking forward to seeing you…

July 26, 2007

Outage, inage and were down and out for several days due to e-gremlins. Service has been restored.

May 6, 2006

Book Authors in the Sidebar

I decided to do something a little different with the blog. Let me know if you have seen this elsewhere. In my right-hand sidebar I’ve added a section of book authors, which links to searches for their books on Red Light Green. I read books, so why should I link only to blogs and online content? The authors I list are ones whom I like and who have informed my discussion.

Two of the links are actually not to Red Light Green but to publishers’ websites. These are authors with just one book. I am a bit frustrated with Red Light Green, because the linked searching function gives different results than the same search expression input into their search box. If you search on the site you get broader results with more books included than if you encode the search into a URL. And I’m not talking about false drops; I’m talking about books I’m interested in. For that reason I left out James Danky. Compare that linked search with one you try yourself for his name on the site. The linked search does not include his Alternative Materials in Libraries, which is now fairly obscure, but a search for his name using their search box does.

Leave comments to tell me about authors that progressive librarians should read, and a little about why! Library Juice Concentrate is going to have a bibliography for that purpose, and I’d like to expand it.

March 28, 2006

Not necessary to register now

Some readers will be happy about this: I’ve changed the settings so you don’t need to register in order to comment. We’ll see how it goes.

March 5, 2006

Library Juice is Back

It took a little longer than anticipated, but as I said I would do in my parting message in Library Juice, the e-zine, last September, I have revived the publication as a blog. The delay, for those who’ve been waiting eagerly, has had to do with other projects taking precedence, as well as a desire to take a break.

Among the other projects is Library Juice Press, the publishing company. The book projects are coming along, and I will share information about them here as I have things to announce. I’m hoping to have four titles available for purchase by the start of this year’s Fall semester.

As you know if you’ve been a reader of Library Juice in the past, I’m getting into blogging with a degree of ambivalence, as I have taken issue with certain aspects of blogging culture. Wanting to avoid becoming what I hate, but to continue Library Juice in a contemporary way, I’ve set up a set of rules that I hope to stick to as I go, a sort of a blogging pledge.

Because of some bad experiences on LISNews I was initially planning not to allow reader comments on this blog. I have a sense, and we will see if this turns out to be true, that heavy readers of blogs are a different group than the group who subscribed to and appreciated Library Juice, so I’m not sure if it’s the audience I’m used to that will be reading and commenting here. I’m allowing comments in the hopes that former Library Juice readers will find this blog and participate. Denizens of the internet, even now that the internet has become so ubiquitous, still skew (on average) in the direction of technolibertarianism, and Library Juice decidedly does not. So, we’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, I’m glad to be back with you.