Social responsibility, librarianship, and the ALA: The 2015 banned books week poster controversy

Emily J.M. Knox, Shannon M. Oltmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This article explores the recent controversy over the American Library Association’s poster for Banned Books Week. In particular, this article connects the 2015 controversy to broader historical issues and tensions within American librarianship concerning social responsibilities. The researchers used a qualitative approach, conducting telephone interviews with 26 individuals. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed deductively. The interviews revealed deep continuing tensions regarding American librarianship’s relationship to responsibilities. First, there is some dissatisfaction with the American Library Association and its Office for Intellectual Freedom. Second, there are competing conceptualizations of censorship and how to apply these differing meanings while remaining socially responsible. Third, there is uncertainty about how to appropriately act as an ally, within librarianship, to marginalized peoples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-22
Number of pages18
JournalLibrary Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Library and Information Sciences


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