The New Inquisition
Understanding and Managing Intellectual Freedom Challenges
by James LaRue
April 2007, 172pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Libraries Unlimited

Paperback: 978-1-59158-285-4
$45, £35, 40€, A62
Please contact your preferred distributor for pricing.

Become an effective advocate for intellectual freedom and patron privacy while building a positive relationship with diverse elements of your community.

How can you become an effective advocate for intellectual freedom and patron privacy while maintaining a positive relationship with diverse elements of your community? Drawing on his experience as library director, this author advocates assuming a proactive role in every library function, from collection building to community outreach. This approach helps you understand the people who challenge library materials—as individuals and as members of various groups—turning enemies into allies and building an intellectual, freedom-friendly community. You’ll learn what materials get challenged and why and how you can effectively respond to challenges while meeting diverse community needs. Here are stories from the frontlines, practical guidelines on policies and procedures as well as common-sense tips on how to maintain your cool while dealing with specific groups or individuals—all presented with common sense and humor. If you have been struggling with challenges and wonder how you can uphold your ideals while dealing with harsh realities, this is the book you have been waiting for.


"Public libraries must prepare for intellectual freedom challenges by instituting policies outlining their organizational procedure for reconsideration requests. With established policies and procedures in place, library staff can approach customer challenges with confidence and composure, while remembering to treat them the respect and dignity they deserve. The New Inquisition is recommended for all frontline library staff and highly recommended for library administrators and managers who respond to formal intellectual challenges."—Public Libraries, September 1, 2008

"James LaRue offers fresh advice on dealing with requests to pull books from public library collections. In an engaging anecdotal style, LaRue recounts numerous examples of real-life intellectual freedom challenges he has encountered during his years as director of a Colorado library system....LaRue advises preparation, but this book's most important contribution is its emphasis on the establishment of trust. LaRue;s most practical advice, and the approach that informs all aspects of this text, is, know your users.....The New Inquisition is an entertaining and valuable read: LaRue's narrative voice is wholly likeable and reasonable. The book contains a good index and a short and very useful reference and resource list. It will make a good companion to other texts on the topic and is recommended for public libraries and academic libraries with a library studies program."—Reference & User Services Quarterly, July 1, 2008

"La Rue does what librarians do best--research. The book begins with a brief history of book censorship and moves to the origins of the Constitution and the Library Bill of Rights. With lively writing about relevant and current issues, the reader is engaged with example letters from concerned patrons provided. La Rue also includes Sample Request for Reconsideration forms and responses to past patron concerns, all of which are excellent resources for frontline librarians as well as the new generation of library students concerned about challenges to intellectual freedom."—Colorado Association of Libraries, February 1, 2008

"This is a fresh, new and timely look at an old issue. LaRue puts a spirited case for dealing face-on with challenges - not being defensive, meeting the emotion, getting the tone right, offering alternatives, discussing the issues, following up the user's concerns, accepting that at times the matter will involve senior managers. Even though the context is U.S. public libraries, the issues here will translate into public libraries anywhere, and into school and children's libraries too. It is a real-life book about meeting challenges in an adult professional way."—Library Review, January 1, 2007

"Using his own experience, as well as his sense of humor, LaRue describes the kinds of challenges libraries typically face and the most effective ways to respond to them and even head them off. Dealing with intellectual freedom challenges may never become one of your favorite parts of the job.... [b]ut at least, armed with this book, you'll be better prepared"—American Libraries, October 1, 2007

"Reading the US Constitution periodically is a good idea, particularly while you are waiting for a special interest group bent on censorship to show up for a loud meeting. LaRue, a county-level director of libraries and therefore a battle-scarred veteran of the intellectual freedom wars, gives practical advice about resolving conflict with those who would limit access to certain information. He gives an historical perspective on the banning and burning of books, including the ever-present question of what children should be allowed to learn, the influence of certain religious and social groups, and the generation-driven aspect. With each he gives ways to find common ground and reasons to read together, and also lists ways to get the community involved in issues such as extending the network you already have, getting media involved, using your reputation and even working your way through the rubber chicken circuit."—Reference & Research Book News, August 1, 2007

"[E]xamines the history of censorship, the fundamental role of libraries in defending freedom of information and the core documents of our profession....[a] sensible, practical approach to understanding and connecting with your community as a solid foundation to dealing with challenges."—Urban Libraries Council Newsletter, January 1, 2007

"It is part of the library faith that humans everywhere are entitled to freedom of thought and expression and those freedoms are curtailed if censors close lines of individual inquiry. That fundamental value is relatively easy to grasp but often difficult to implement in the face of real world pressures. LaRue shows us how to fight those real world fights effectively in a text written with panache and pungency. I recommend his book without reservation."—Michael Gorman, Dean of Library Services, California State University, Fresno, Immediate Past President, American Library Association

"LaRue's 'on the ground' perspective is imbued with a deep understanding of the historical and sociological context of censorship. He is at once passionate about the enduring ethics of human rights, and dispassionate about the process by which librarians must seek to protect these rights."—Kathleen de la Pena McCook, Distinguished University Professor, School of Library and Information Science, University of South Florida, Tampa
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