LIS 611 Discussion Questions
Note: The required textbook for this course is: Magi, Trirna J., Martin Garnar, and American Library Association. Office for Intellectual Freedom. 2015. Intellectual freedom manual, Ninth edition. Chicago: ALA
Editions, an imprint of the American Library Association.
Many of the discussions will be based on chapters from this textbook. However, there are also many articles or book chapters that we will be reading and
discussing. Many of these will be available through electronic Course Reserves, accessed through the University of Hawai`i at Manoa library
- Imagine you were in an elevator with someone from a totalitarian country who asked you what "intellectual freedom" is. How would you answer this person?
- Looking back on your life thus far, how has intellectual freedom affected your life?
- Having read John Stuart Mill's introductory chapter, what do you think are the main threats to liberty as he described it today?
- The preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights contains the following passage: "...disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and
the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people." Looking at what is happening in the world
today, how applicable are both parts of that statement?
- In your view, how does Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights apply to libraries?
- First Amendment;
- Farber, Daniel. 1998. The First Amendment. Chapter 1: Free expression and the Constitution, pages 1-17 (available through Course
- Intellectual freedom manual (9th ed.). Part I. Chapter 2. Core Intellectual Freedom documents of the American Library Association;
- Intellectual freedom manual (9th ed.). Part I. Chapter 4. The right to receive information. Libraries, the First Amendment, and the Public Forum Doctrine (pages 43-47);
- Intellectual freedom manual (9th ed.). Part II. Chapter 6. Meeting rooms, exhibit spaces, and programs;
- Shuman. 1981. The River Bend casebook : problems in public library service. Case 2 : Use of the meeting room.(Course reserves)
- Morgan. 2010. Challenges and issues today. In : Intellectual freedom manual (8th ed.), pages 37-45. (Course reserves)
- How do you see the relationship between the ideas set forth in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the ideas presented in On liberty?
- Both the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" and the American Library Association's "Library Bill of Rights" were authored in the 20th century. Do you see a relationship between the
ideas presented in these two works?.
(The following are questions presented by Shuman regarding Case 2 : Use of the meeting room.)
- Would you have granted permission to the American Nazi Party to hold a meeting in the library's facilities? If so, why? If not, why not?
- Given that you have granted that permission, what would you do now, in the light of public and administrative threats? What reason(s) would you give for your actions?
- Does counter-programming sound like a workable alternative? If so, what sort of program would you recommend to offset the bad publicity or harm the Nazi program might bring to the library?
- Can you think of a way to ensure the Party its right of free speech and of use of the meeting room, without causing anguish or violence?
- Krug and Morgan. 2010. ALA and intellectual freedom : a historical overview. In: Intellectual freedom manual (8th ed.)
- Intellectual freedom manual (9th ed.). Part II. Chapter 1. Access to library resources and services;
- Shuman. 1981. The River Bend casebook : problems in public library service. Case 34 : The new city ordinance and the gay librarian (Course reserves).
- Krug and Morgan, on page 14, write about ALA opposition to a tariff bill in 1929. How did the proposed tariff bill accord with the First Amendment as discussed by Farber?
- Four years after opposing the above-mentioned tariff bill, the Executive Board of the ALA were urged to take action regarding the burning of books in Germany by the Nazis, yet they did nothing. While it is doubtful that a
statement by the American Library Association would have affected the behavior of the Nazis, should the ALA have spoken out against the book burning? Why or why not?
- On page 16 Krug and Morgan talk about an amendment to the Library's Bill of Rights against banning materials considered "factually correct." The authors note that the wording "factually correct" was removed. Why do you
think the reference to "factually correct" was later dropped from the amendment?
- Now considered a bedrock principle of Intellectual Freedom is providing access to multiple viewpoints on issues. In your opinion, was our reputation for neutrality concerning providing access to information threatened by
the American Library Association's public stances on the Vietnam War, the Equal Rights Amendment, and the Persian Gulf War, as some have perceived? For example, regardless of whether or not the Persian Gulf War was an
appropriate undertaking by the United States, should the American Library Association have taken a public stance for or against it?
- On page 53 of your textbook (the 9th edition of the Intellectual freedom manual), there are four questions for reflection. How would you answer those questions?
- Regarding Shuman's case 34, please analyze the statement made to the complainant by the library director. Was this an effective way to handle the situation? In your opinion, how might the situation have been handled more
effectively? What might the library staff do in preparation for dealing with challenges of this type in the future?
- Intellectual freedom manual (9th ed.). Part II. Chapter 2. Pekoll and Adams. How to respond to challenges and concerns
about library resources (pages 83-93);
- Karolides, Bald, and Sova. 120 banned books (2nd ed.), pages 1, 98-101, 112-123 (Course reserves);
- Intellectual freedom manual (8th ed.), pages 109-115. History: Diversity in collection development (Course reserves).
These discussions will be based on scenarios. Use the readings for this session from the 9th edition of the Intellectual freedom manual to help you in formulating your responses.
- Scenario One: Employed at a public library, one day you are working at the reference desk. A man wearing a VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) cap comes to the desk with Johnny got his gun in his hand. He is obviously
"This book is garbage. With so many of our young men and women serving overseas right now, risking their lives to defend this country, how can you have this on your shelves? What about the children of those who
are serving in harm's way? What if they check this out and start reading it, not knowing what it's about? What about the children whose fathers were killed? How would they feel if they read this book? Shame on you!"
How do you respond? What might happen next? Which groups might get involved on either side of this issue if it escalates? How would you and your library handle this?
- Scenario Two: Working at the reference desk late one afternoon in your (public) library, an elderly woman approaches, carrying the library's copy of Mein Kampf. She is clearly sad and upset. Her hand shaking, she
shows you the number tattooed on her wrist. She takes a deep breath, then tells you about her experiences in a Nazi concentration camp as a child. At the end of her horrific tale, she looks at you, pleading.
"There are young people today, mostly poor boys, social outcasts, who are turning to this philosophy of hatred to make themselves feel good, to feel superior, to feel like they're somebody instead of nobody. I've seen it before.
This book does not belong in a public library where such boys will find it. A university library, okay. They study such things. But not in a public library like this."
How do you respond to her? What would you say? What would you do? What might potentially happen next? How would you and your library handle this?
- Intellectual freedom manual (9th ed.). Part II. Chapter 2. Jones and Caldwell-Stone. 2015. Engaging with organized groups (pages, 94-95).
- Intellectual freedom manual (9th ed.). Part II. Chapter 2. Chmara. 2015. The law regarding access to library resources (pages, 96-99);
- Karolides, Bald, and Sova. 120 banned books (2nd ed.), pages 22-31, 86-98;
- Logan. 1897. Education in the Hawaiian Islands. In The North American review. 165(488):20-25. (Note: This article contains material many would find
- Hammond. 1993. Hawaiian flag quilts: multivalent symbols of a Hawaiian quilt tradition. In The Hawaiian journal of history
27:1-26, please read pages 1-11.
- Culture and educational policy in Hawai`i : the silencing of native voices:101-114. (This link will take you to the Voyager catalog
record for the electronic version of this work. Scroll down, then click on "Access to full text for UHM faculty, students, and staff" to get to the electronic text. You may need to read the pages online. When I have tried to
print I was given pages with the left side missing.)
- On page 97 of the Intellectual freedom manual (9th ed.), Theresa Chmara talks about the case of Sund v. City of Wichita Falls. The city council had passed a resolution. Whenever a petition to a remove a book
from the children's section of the public library and place it in the adult section was signed by 300 library cardholders then the library director was required to acquiesce to the will of the petitioners. The idea
seems to have been that the petitioners represented the will of the majority and the majority had the right to determine which books would be banned from the children's section of the library. How might John Stuart Mill have
responded to that premise?
- Rebecca Knuth, in Libricide: the regime-sponsored destruction of books and libraries in the twentieth century, wrote: "...the term 'ethnocide' was unofficially introduced to describe the organized commission of
specific acts with intent to extinguish culture, utterly or in substantial part. This could include deprivation of the opportunity to use a language, to practice a religion, to create art in customary ways, to maintain
basic social institutions, to preserve memories and traditions, and so on." (Knuth 2003, p. 7) Having read about the removal of the Hawaiian language as the official language of the schools in Hawai`i and the declaration of the
English language to be the official language henceforth, would you characterize that act by the new rulers to be an act of ethnocide? If so, why? If not, why not?
- How would you characterize the actions of the ruling class in the post-overthrow period in terms of the Intellectual Freedom of the Hawaiian people at that time? How would you characterize the use of imagery in Hawaiian
quilts to express support of the monarchy?
- Having read the plots of and objections to Black boy and In the spirit of Crazy Horse do you see any commonalities between the two books? Are there commonalities among the objections to these books? If so,
what are they? Are there any implications for American society that the attempts to censor these particular books were at least partially successful?
- Noble. 1990. Ungodly humanism (Course reserves)
- Karolides, Bald, and Sova. 120 banned books (2nd ed.), pages 181-185, 196-204, 217-222, 229-240, 270-274 (Course reserves).
- Was there anything that frightened you about the court proceedings in "Ungodly humanism"? What might that have been? Why did it frighten you?
- From the descriptions of the controversial Danish cartoons you have read, or pictures you may have seen in the news, would you describe some of them as hate speech, as some have contended? If so, what is your reasoning?
- Was Yale University Press right to pull all the illustrations from the book The cartoons that shook the world before publishing it? What are the potential consequences for academia and academic publishing? What are
the consequences for society when a prestigious academic publisher self-censors out of fear?
- Karolides et al. include The hidden face of Eve: women in the Arab world in the section of their book labelled "Literature suppressed on religious grounds." Certainly her critics used religion as the overt reason for
censoring Nawal El Saadawi's work. However, from what you read, is she criticizing Islam? Is she anti-Islam? Whom or what is she actually criticizing in her books?
- Nikos Kazantzakis wrote a book that envisions Jesus as being subject to the passions and temptations of the human body yet overcoming those temptations to engage in self-sacrifice, thus serving as a model for humanity. The
book was, as your reading illustrated, highly criticized and there were efforts to ban it. The book's Greek publisher was tried for blasphemy. Iran's Ministry of Culture banned it. The author was excommunicated by the Eastern
Orthodox Church. Should a public library include this book in its collection? Why or why not?
- In the The Da Vinci Code which organization(s) looked especially bad? Who criticized the book and why? If a work of fiction contains what some consider to be erroneous history, what might the library's responsibility
be (if it does bear such a responsibility) if it decides to include the book in its collection?
- Have you read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's [or Philosopher's] Stone? How would you respond to the criticisms of the book?
- Intellectual freedom manual (9th ed.). Part II. Chapter 3. Children and youth;
- Karolides, Bald, and Sova. 120 banned books (2nd ed.), pages 391-395, 435-448, 451-457 (Course reserves);
- Shuman. 1981. The River Bend casebook. Case 8 : The book review series (Course reserves).
- On page 117 of the Intellectual freedom manual (Part II. Chapter 3) there are three scenarios listed under Questions for Reflection. How would you handle those scenarios?
- On page 121 the IMF states that major barriers between students and resources in school libraries include charging fees for information in specific formats. Many public libraries charge fees for taking home videos to watch.
Thus, a young person can check out a print version of Jane Austen's Pride and prejudice free of charge but would be required to pay a fee to check out a video disc with the cinematic expression of that work. In your
opinion, are such fees problematic? Why or why not?
- In case 8 of the River Bend casebook the librarian encounters hostility when giving a presentation about a book. Please be ready to discuss your answers to the questions posed at the end of the case description.
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