Welcome to the RILA Bulletin Spotlight Series, where we feature the important work of a different RILA or RI library section, committee, roundtable, initiative, or organization in each issue.
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June 2022 Spotlight: RILA Intellectual Freedom Committee
For this issue, we asked Tayla Cardillo to tell us about her role as Co-Chair of the Intellectual Freedom Committee. Tayla is the Branch Librarian of the Oak Lawn Branch of the Cranston Public Libraries in Cranston, Rhode Island.
What is the mission or purpose of the Intellectual Freedom Committee?
To help libraries in their role as protectors of Intellectual Freedom and the First Amendment as well as inform the Rhode Island Library Community about issues of Intellectual Freedom.
When was the Intellectual Freedom Committee formed?
This January, the Committee was reactivated after a period of inactivity.
What made you personally interested in being involved with this committee?
I think protecting people's intellectual freedom as well as their right to read and access information is one of the most important aspects of our jobs as library professionals. Frequently, the stories of marginalized groups are the ones that get labeled as obscene or inappropriate for children, so it is important to make sure that those voices are not silenced by the white heteronormative majority. Part of the reason many of these groups, especially the LGBTQAI+ community, don't know their own history is because their voices were silenced in the past. That's what I want to try to work to stop.
What is this committee’s proudest achievement?
Since this committee is just getting restarted, I am proud of the work the committee has done in the short period of time we've been meeting to get this committee going again. With the help of the Communications Committee, SLRI, and the RILA Board, we created an Intellectual Freedom statement for RILA and put a page with resources to help the RI library committee learn more about Intellectual Freedom on the RILA website. I'm proud of what we accomplished in the first half of the year, and I'm excited to see what we'll do in the second half and beyond!
What ongoing challenges does this Committee face?
Our biggest ongoing challenge is figuring out the best way to support libraries and school districts who are facing book challenges. Do they need legal support, or support creating a solid collection development policy? Do they just want support from peers who understand what going through a challenge is like? These are the questions the committee has been grappling with since the beginning.
If money and time were not an issue, what is the Intellectual Freedom Committee’s number one wish list item to support its mission or purpose?
Creating a way for us to collect data about book challenges and other instances of censorship in RI and have people within the library community: 1) be aware that they can report censorship to us, and 2) feel safe and comfortable reporting to us.
What partnerships with other groups or individuals (inside or outside of RILA) have been most beneficial for this Committee to meet its goals or objectives?
Our partnership with the Communications Committee has been great because we did not have to reinvent the wheel when it came to getting information about Intellectual Freedom out there to people. They have a platform and they know how to use it and they were willing to share that platform with us so that we could get this information out there.
Is this Committee looking for new members, and how can those interested get involved?
Yes, we would be happy to have anyone interested in Intellectual Freedom to join us, and they can email firstname.lastname@example.org to indicate their interest in joining the committee.
What book are you reading now that you’d like to promote?
I just finished Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka, which is a graphic memoir about his childhood being raised by his grandparents. The author’s mother was in and out of jail and rehab programs due to her drug addiction, and his father was absent from his life until he was a young adult. It was a great look into the effects of addiction on a family through the eyes of a child, and I think it will help a lot of kids who have complicated family situations feel seen.