To uphold the value of intellectual freedom in Virginia's libraries by monitoring and reporting on intellectual freedom issues in the Commonwealth.

Committee Member Roster




Statement on Academic Freedom from the Virginia Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Committee 

Recent protests across Virginia's university campuses regarding the conflict in Gaza have highlighted concerns about intellectual freedom in higher education.  The implications for free speech and access to information are significant.

The Virginia Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Committee staunchly supports intellectual freedom, equitable access to information, and the free exchange of ideas as follows:

1.  Reaffirm Students' Right to Peaceful Protest: Students have the right to peaceful protest and expression of moral concerns. However, university administrators have the responsibility to publicize content-neutral, time, place, and manner rules for protest so other students can pursue their academic studies unimpeded.

2.  Distinguish Between Critique and Discrimination: Criticism of any government’s or political entity’s decisions, or military actions, or of university policies should not in themselves be equated with bigotry. It is crucial for university administrators and community leaders to discern between legitimate critique and discriminatory rhetoric.

3.  Ensure Academic Freedom: Instructors should not face penalties for assigning students reading or viewing material that presents diverse perspectives, including those critical or supportive of governmental policies or historical actions. Individuals should not be labeled as hostile to a population for recommending critical perspectives. Intellectual inquiry thrives on exploring differing viewpoints and accessing the widest range of information possible.

4.  Ensure Access to Information: University libraries must serve as repositories of a wide range of viewpoints, providing students with the broadest possible access to information. The integrity of libraries as centers for student learning and access to information must be protected.

We urge educators, administrators, policymakers, and the community at large to uphold intellectual freedom everywhere, especially in higher education. We encourage the public to seek information and utilize libraries to delve deeper into the issues prompting protests. Let us continue to cultivate an environment that nurtures critical thinking, robust dialogue, and the free exchange of ideas, safeguarding our institutions of higher learning as bastions of intellectual inquiry and academic excellence.

Virginia Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Committee

For more information, please visit the statements on free speech and academic freedom issued by the organizations below:

Please email any questions or concerns to [email protected].

March 18, 2024: Vet Voice Foundation letter re: proposed book bans

The following email was sent with a letter to the school boards of Rockingham, Virginia Beach City Public Schools, King George, Spotsylvania, Fluvanna, King William, Goochland and Hanover; and to the Boards of Supervisors of Hanover, Goochland and King William today, March 18.

Vet Voice Foundation, a nonpartisan veterans organization representing over 1.5 million veterans and military family members, is deeply alarmed by the attempts to ban books in Virginia's schools and libraries. This letter is both a forceful condemnation of these actions and a rallying cry for the defense of our foundational freedoms.

As service members, we pledged our lives to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. This oath is sacrosanct, embodying our dedication to the liberties that have long set our nation apart, including the freedom of speech and the unfettered right to access information. 

When books are banned, and voices are silenced, it is not just an attack on these rights but a direct affront to the very essence of democracy and the freedoms for which we, as veterans, have served to protect.

Please see the attached letter in support of the Virginia Library Association (VLA) and the Virginia Association of School Librarians (VAASL). Vet Voice Foundation stands in solidarity with the VLA and VAASL in their shared mission to protect and promote the freedom to read. 

We hope that you will too.


VLA Message to King William, Hanover and Goochland Boards of Supervisors: February 16, 2024

VLA’s Intellectual Freedom and Executive Committees recently sent a letter to the Boards of Supervisors of King William, Hanover and Goochland Counties in response to an email to the King William Board by a resident.

Below is the email sent by VLA, and at the bottom this page, the original email (February 8) that prompted the response. VLA’s response was emailed on February 16. READ MORE

Celebrate Banned Books Week October 1-7, 2023


The VLA Intellectual Freedom Committee invites you to honor Banned Books Week, Oct. 1-7, 2023, themed "Let Freedom Read" by the American Library Association's 2023. Many libraries across the Commonwealth of Virginia will be hosting displays of banned books— books that while not completely eliminated from publication or distribution have been challenged and at times removed from libraries by government order. That some libraries find it politically unsafe to speak of “Banned Books” displays and need to use other terminology, such as "First Amendment" displays, provides a renewed justification for setting apart this week. Many libraries are also offering programming and activities, such as readings from banned books, to raise awareness about efforts to censor and the importance of standing for the right to read as a basic First Amendment and Civil right of all Americans.

We also invite you to read Nan Carmack's, VLA President-Elect, statement about Banned Books Week drafted by VLA’s President-Elect Nan Carmack, below.

Banned Books Week Oct 1 -7. 2023
 - Nan Carmack, President-Elect, Virginia Library Association
Banned Books Week serves not only to celebrate literature that disrupts comfortable thinking but also the very first idea that the founders of the United States of America added to our Constitution: The First Amendment. In asserting the freedom of speech to every person, our founders held sacred the notion that no one should be prevented from expressing or consuming ideas that others may find objectionable. Books that fall on the lists of banned or challenged books demonstrate the attempt by some to silence an author from expressing their ideas, their lived experience, their imagination. Bans and challenges also attempt to thwart the freedom of readers to explore the same ideas, experiences, and imaginings.
Dr. Rudine Bishop Simms, professor emeritus at Ohio State University, wrote a famed essay in which she likens books to “mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors.” These analogies demonstrate how literature can provide the reader with a reflection of themselves, a window into which they can view the experience of another, and very special books that allow us to step into another world entirely. In doing so, books have the power to help folks grow their capacity for empathy, understanding, and compassion.  
This week, we celebrate not only the value of literature that challenge our own experiences, but the American ideal of the freedom of speech, in which no one person or entity can tell us what we can and cannot read. This week, we celebrate the League of Women Voters standing up for the Freedom to Read. Which book will you choose to read in celebration? 

356 unique book titles were challenged across Virginia in the first 8 months of 2023, according to the American Library Association. That's nearly twice the 182 titles that came under fire in the state in 2022, which was double the previous year's number. 

-October 3, 2023


Email to membership: {VLA} Legislation Affecting Libraries Defeated: Update on General Assembly February 20, 2023

Resources and Continuing Education

Intellectual Freedom Issues and General Resources

Privacy Issues

Banned Books 

Fake News Info & Resources 

School Censorship

Internet and Net Neutrality

Reporting Challenges

Has your library experienced a challenge or a reconsideration of your materials, displays, website content, or another intellectual freedom issue?  Let the VLA Intellectual Freedom Committee know, and we can offer support, guidance, and resources for you and your library. If you aren’t sure what constitutes a reconsideration or a challenge, please report it and let us know anyway. 

Contact: VLA Intellectual Freedom Committee Chair, Keith Weimer

The American Library Association collects statistics on challenges as well to monitor trends in intellectual freedom issues. If you have received a challenge at your library, please fill out their quick and easy challenge report (this can be submitted anonymously).

Book Resumes

To help navigate the many book challenges happening in Virginia, VLA is sharing "book resumes for commonly challenged books. Resumes are completed by librarians throughout the state who volunteer to complete. Resumes can be found here

If you're interested in helping with completing a resume, click to complete the Virginia Challenged Book Resume Collaboration form. You can select up to five books.


Court Cases in Virginia Beach 2022 in favor of A Court of Mist and Fury and Gender Queer

VLA has created a Dropbox of files related to the court cases, CL22-1984 (A Court of Mist and Fury) and CL22-1985 (Gender Queer). Original Petitions and Finals Orders are included, as well as briefs submitted by the authors, publishers and other interested parties.

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