Title: Human Rights and Banned Books Week: Engaging with Amnesty International
Ed McKennon, Library Faculty, Glendale Community College
Michelle Ashley Gohr, Prescott Valley Public Library Youth Services Librarian
Two members of the Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) Working Group for Banned Books Week (BBW) will discuss their experiences as lead library volunteers on the AIUSA planning team as well as strategies for adding international cases to BBW programming in both academic and public library settings. Libraries may diversify the conversation around BBW through the addition of Amnesty International’s annual BBW action while grounding related programming upon international human rights principles. Attendees can meet with AIUSA librarian volunteers to discuss strategies and tangible practices for engaging students and the community at their local libraries.
(1) learn how Amnesty International Banned Books Week focus cases are selected;
(2) learn and discuss strategies to enhance traditional Banned Books Week programming through the addition of international human rights cases, particularly those included in the Amnesty International annual campaign;
(3) consider how the human rights principles that undergird AIUSA Banned Books Week programming interrelate with traditional ALA programs and suggest a continuum of censorship issues that - at the most extreme - result in the censoring of books and the execution of people.
Ed McKennon has served as an academic librarian for over 20 years. He has collaboratively organized Banned Books Week activities with Amnesty International student groups alongside library faculty and staff at Arizona State University beginning 2002 and Glendale Community College since 2008. Ed was a catalyst in re-starting the annual Amnesty International USA Banned Books campaign in 2018 and has served as a volunteer on the AIUSA Banned Books Week Working Group ever since. He has presented about the relationship between Banned Books Week library campaigns and international human rights action via poster sessions at ACRL and AIUSA Annual General Meetings and contributed to related IFLA blogs. Apart from his work related to Banned Books Week, Ed is library faculty at Glendale Community College where he previously focused on web development and e-resources management and currently leads collection development efforts. Additionally, he contributes to instruction, reference, and diversity, equity, and inclusion work at the library.
Michelle Ashley Gohr (they/she) is a Youth Services librarian with a focus on pre-teens at Prescott Valley Public Library and formerly a First Year Experience Librarian with Arizona State University where they taught information literacy to first year students and provided research assistance to students and faculty in women and gender studies, social justice/human rights, and other subject areas. They have served as a volunteer librarian on the Amnesty International USA Banned Books Week Working Group since summer 2022. Their research primarily focuses on young adult literacy, censorship, and critical pedagogies.