Next Meeting: Tuesday June 11, 2019 10-12:00, we will have an in person goal-setting session facilitated by Michelle Eberle (IFSRC/MLS) and hosted by committee member Karen Tobin, Assistant Director at the Goodnow Library 21 Concord Rd Sudbury. 

Intellectual Freedom/Social Responsibility Committee

Congratulations to our former Co-Chair, Jacqueline Rafferty, upon her retirement! Thank you for everything that you've done for the IF/SRC and MLA over the years. Everyone on the IF/SRC wishes you all of the best for the future.

Congratulations to our first Civil Liberties Champion Award winner, Salem State University's Dr. Roopika Risam! Read more about her, her work in promoting equity and justice in the digital cultural record, and the award itself here; see also the Boston Globe's article about Dr. Risam and the award (Internet Archive link).

Thank you to all who joined us at our Confronting Inequality Symposium on October 18, 2018, at Milton Public Library. Our special guests were Virginia Eubanks, Chris Collins, and our 2018 Civil Liberties Champion Award winner, Dr. Roopika Risam. There was also a Civic Engagement Fair, where exhibitors shared their ideas and undertakings with attendees. For more information, visit our Symposium page.

Workshops Offered for Staff Development and Training Days

Are you looking for a low-cost, reality-based training for your front-line staff? Consider hiring an MLA trainer from the Intellectual Freedom/Social Responsibilities Committee. Training is $300 for a half-day program, plus mileage for the trainer(s). We offer two workshop options, both based on ALA training modules. These are introductory programs, focused on preparing your staff to better face the challenges of working with the public.

Download the Workshops flyer as a PDF. For more information or to book a Workshop, contact Krista McLeod at or 978-686-4080 x10. Available dates are limited.

All proceeds from these workshops benefit the Advocacy and Education efforts of the Massachusetts Library Association.

Workshop 1: CUSTOMER SERVICE: Balancing Rights & Responsibilities

This workshop covers basic customer service issues in libraries. Discussions include the differences between customer service and patron behavior concerns, where staff behaviors intersect with your library's policies, and helps participants understand their responsibilities and those of their customers. Participants work through scenarios and try to solve problems together using their experiences and those of their colleagues. If time allows, the Trainer will go over some tips for dealing with patrons with problems.

Workshop 2: DEFENDING ACCESS WITH CONFIDENCE: A Practical Workshop on Intellectual Freedom

This workshop is intended for front-line staff who may not have an academic or practical background in Intellectual Freedom in public libraries. Topics include the history and development of thinking about First Amendment rights related to public libraries, how to handle patrons who may express concerns related to controversial materials in the library, and concerns about censorship today. The emphasis is on practical applications, understanding your library's policies, and developing on-going dialogue among staff and administrators on related concerns.

Intellectual Freedom/Social Responsibility Committee Mission Statement

The mission of Massachusetts Library Association's (MLA's) Intellectual Freedom/Social Responsibility Committee (MLA-IF/SRC) is to inform and educate librarians and the general public about the nature and importance of intellectual freedom. The MLA-IF/SRC encourages libraries and library staff to adhere to the principles of intellectual freedom, including unimpeded access to information, freedom of expression and the privacy rights of library users. The Committee also advocates forpublic policy that is consistent with the highest standards of good library practice and which support freedom of thought and access to information for all people. MLA-IF/SRC develops, proposes and implements a process for MLA participation in national events and days such as Freedom of Information Day and Banned Books Week, represents MLA on issues of intellectual freedom and provides assistance and/or information to librarians who have issues or questions about intellectual freedom situations. The committee selects and prepares information dealing with intellectual freedom issues for addition to the MLA web site, develops programming for annual conference and periodically presents an award to an outstanding individual or group who has protected intellectual freedom. The Committee will also draw attention to human rights issues and social inequity, as social responsibility is a core value of librarianship. The MLA-IF/SR Committee will help establish progressive priorities within MLA and the state of Massachusetts, conduct programs to educate and inform our library colleagues and the public about social issues, and promote diversity in all aspects of librarianship and library service in the Commonwealth.

Committee Co-Chairs

Andrea Fiorillo Carol Witt
Reading Public Library AccuFile
64 Middlesex Ave Email:
Reading, MA 01867
Phone: 781-944-0840

Committee Members

Matt Amory Canton Public Library
Jenny Arch Winchester Public Library
Susan Caulfield Newton Free Library
Clayton Cheever Thomas Crane Public Library, Quincy
Michelle Eberle Massachusetts Library System
Jessi Finnie Scituate Town Library
Jessica FitzHanso Chelmsford Public Library
Kim Hewitt Waltham Public Library
Patience Jackson Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (retired)
Luke Kirkland Waltham Public Library
Elizabeth McKinstry Worcester Public Library
Amanda Merk Norman Williams Public Library
Susan Pizzolato Mattapoisett Free Public Library
Andrea Puglisi Longmeadow Library
Sarah Regan J. V. Fletcher Library, Westford
Dani Scott Monson Free Library
Rachel Sideman-Kurtz
Michelle Spinney CLAMS (Cape Libraries Automated Materials Sharing Inc.)
Karen Tobin Goodnow Library, Sudbury

Meeting Schedule

The next MLA-IF/SRC meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 23, from 2-4 p.m. via GoToMeeting. Currently, the Committee meets via conference call, with three “in-person” meetings during the year. Participants may also attend in-person meetings via conference call. Email to join the Committee and for conference call access information.

Helpful Resources

MLA Resources

MLA Resolution on USA Patriot Act Reauthorization

American Library Association Resources

ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF)
ALA Intellectual Freedom Roundtable (IFRT)
ALA Social Responsibilities Roundtable (SRRT)
SIFnet: State Intellectual Freedom Network Roster
Banned Books Week
Internet Filtering Statement
Support for Challenges to Library Materials
USA Patriot Act and Libraries

Other Resources

Massachusetts Library Confidentiality Law
Nebraska Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Manual
Privacy Rights of Minors and Massachusetts State Law

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