Censorship and Banned Books: How to Defend Intellectual Freedom

Learn tangible ways to handle censorship, find allies, and ensure your library policies are up to date.



Course Description 

Guest speaker sessions via Zoom:
Wednesday, Sept. 27 from 12:00 to 4:00 pm ET (recordings available)

The last few years have seen a drastic uptick in book bans and curriculum challenges. As a librarian, teacher, administrator, or trustee, it can be difficult to know your options for managing these challenges and advocating for intellectual freedom and diverse educational materials. This half-day online course will focus on proactive preparation to ensure you are set up for success. We will also discuss ways to cope and protect yourself if you’re already in the throes of censorship challenges. Live sessions will be available on-demand.

You will learn tangible ways to handle censorship, including tips for finding allies and building coalitions, tactics for school board meetings, and strategies to ensure your library policies are up to date and will appropriately defend intellectual freedom. We’ll discuss best practices for engaging and educating stakeholders in your organization to ensure everyone is equipped with appropriate responses and prepared when challenges arise. 

The live sessions run on Wednesday, September 27, 2023 from 12:00-4:00 pm ET (recorded for on-demand viewing). Don’t miss this opportunity!




When you sign up early, you’ll have immediate access to our Early Access On Demand Resources—a series of webinars from Library Journal and School Library Journal contributors along with rich, supporting materials in the form of readings, activities, and videos—to explore at your own pace.

Learning Outcomes

After you attend this course, you’ll be able to:
  • Advocate for your programs, curricula, collections, and services

  • Conduct a policy audit and ensure your protections are up to date and comprehensive

  • Make a plan to find allies and build coalitions to support you

  • Access resources and communities dealing with similar challenges

  • Develop and refer to talking points and best practices for speaking at school board meetings and connecting with stakeholders and community members

  • Create a plan for how to cope and take care of yourself in the midst of challenges


Who should take this course 

Any librarian or educator who needs support preparing for or dealing with current book bans and curriculum challenges. Whether you’re a frontline staff member or teacher, or a director or school administrator, this course will include proactive information that will give you tactical tools to defend intellectual freedom. 

Expected time commitment: 

If you attend or watch the recordings of all live sessions, you'll spend approximately 4 hours on this course. You'll earn 4 hours of PD credit and a Library Journal certificate of completion. 

Live sessions are also available on demand for six months

Can’t make a live session? All guest speaker sessions are recorded and available on demand for six months following the initial broadcast.

Certificate of completion provided 

4 professional development credit hours

For support with online courses, please contact libraryjournal@edmaker.co


All guest speaker sessions feature live captioning and are made available on demand after the initial broadcast. Please email libraryjournal@edmaker.co upon registration if you require any special accommodations and we will make our best efforts to facilitate them.


Fall 2023 Course Curriculum Advisor


Nate Coulter is the Executive Director of the Central Arkansas Library System, with 15 branches serving 11% of the state’s population including the cities of Jacksonville, Little Rock, Maumelle, Perryville, and Sherwood, Arkansas. As executive director of CALS, Coulter oversees the budget, fundraising, and programming for the system. CALS has 15 libraries, an annual operating budget of approximately $27 million, and more than 300 employees. Under his leadership, CALS has expanded outreach and programming by hiring community liaisons to better engage Black and Latino communities and launching the Count UP math tutoring program and Rock It! Lab entrepreneurial hub. In recognition of the library’s collaborative approach to community challenges, CALS was the Jerry Kline Community Impact Prize winner in 2021. CALS has also received numerous grants and recently passed an operational millage to continue its mission to help residents reach their full potential.

Prior to working for the library, Coulter served on the Library Board of Trustees for 6 years, and on the Library’s Foundation Board from 2013-2016. He was one of the original members of the Our House Shelter Board and the Arkansas Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission, and currently serves on the Downtown Little Rock Partnership Board and the Pulaski County Community Village Advisory Committee. In 2016, he received the Arkansas Bar Association’s Equal Justice Distinguished Service Award.



Group Rates

Have a team attend and increase your impact!

Discounted registration fees are available for groups of 3 or more. 

Send us a request for a quote.




By registering for this event you confirm that you have read and agree to our Code of Conduct.

For support with online courses, please contact libraryjournal@edmaker.co.




Half-Day Intensive: Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Session 1 | 12:00-12:45 pm ET

Proactive Resistance: Policies, Procedures, and Protocols 

Whether you’re preparing for challenges or you’re already dealing with them, this session will give you the practical tools you need to manage censorship. You will learn innovative policy ideas to reduce and resist censorship in your area, as well as strategies for auditing your current practices to ensure they will adequately defend intellectual freedom in your area. You will leave this session with new ideas for streamlined procedures and protocols that you can establish in your library to help you resist book bans and defend the right to read.


Lori Fisher, State Librarian, Maine


Session 2 | 12:45-1:30 pm ET

Stronger Together: Building Community, Coalitions, and Allies

Defending intellectual freedom can’t be the job of just one person. This session will teach you how to find allies inside and outside of your library or school, build coalitions, gain local legislative support, and work as a community to combat censorship challenges. You will leave with shared resources and tools for how to connect with others to drive change in your community.


Erika Long, (she, her)  School Library Consultant


Break | 1:30-1:45 pm ET


Session 3 | 1:45-2:30 pm ET

How to Create and Advocate for Inclusivity Despite Censorship 

Book challenges and censorship disproportionately target and affect books by and about LBGTQIA+, BIPOC, and other marginalized identities. As a librarian, how can you continue to create and advocate for inclusive programs and collections even and especially when your organization is facing censorship? Hear from a panel of librarians and join the discussion during a facilitated Q&A.   


Andrea Jamison, PhD, Assistant Professor of School Librarianship, Illinois State University

Hal Patnott, Rainbow Services Librarian

Forrest Evans, Atlanta-based librarian working for Warner Brothers Discovery


 Session 4 | 2:30-3:00 pm ET 

External Communications: How to Become FOIA and Media Ready

One challenge of censorship issues is knowing when and how to craft external communications. This session will help you know how to address the media as well as how to create systems in your library to ensure you’re ready to address FOIA requests efficiently and effectively. 


Julie M. Milavec, (she, her hers) Library Director, Downers Grove Public Library

Cindy Khatri, Marketing & Communications Manager, Downers Grove Public Library


Break | 3:00-3:10 pm ET


Session 5 | 3:10-3:50 pm ET

Proactive Governance: How to Prepare for and Handle Problems in Your Board Meetings

Learn tangible tools you can use and actions you can take to help manage disruptions to your board meetings. Whether you’re facing internal challenges, external challenges, or both, you will leave this session prepared with best practices to keep your governance on track. 


Amanda Vazquez, Library Director, Dubuque County Library District


Session 6 | 3:50-4:30 pm ET

Protecting Yourself Amid Censorship and Defamation Attacks

Too often, librarians and educators are being publicly targeted by people attempting to advance censorship. This session will teach you how to protect yourself online from doxxing and other harassment. You will also learn strategies for setting and maintaining boundaries, advocating for yourself in the workplace, and prioritizing wellness through rest and connection to others through affinity groups.


Amanda Jones, Teacher-Librarian,  2021 SLJ Co-Librarian of the Year, a 2021 LJ Mover and Shaker, and the 2020 Louisiana School Librarian of the Year





Online Course Preview

A preview of how we build your library skills and bring inspiration to your projects with our online learning experience.

2-Hour Online Crash Course Format


Inspiring Live Guest Speakers 



Live session with Andrea Blackman and Tasneem Ansariyah Grace

Live Guest Speakers 

  • Live, expert speaker sessions with audience Q&A (session recordings available on demand if you can’t join live)
  • Option to join on camera to participate in interactive discussions and activities with course presenters and peers


Online Course Features


Recordings of guest speakers

Recordings Available After The Live Session

  • Real-time guest speakers and conversation via live video stream (with recordings available afterward)



Early Access On Demand Resources

Early Access and Ongoing Resources To Support Learning

  • Supporting resources (articles, videos, worksheets) in the online classroom to provide a foundation for your work
  • Access all course content for six months after the course ends
  • Bonus: Register early and get immediate access to archival video recordings from related courses and other bonus content




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