Northeast Ohio Regional Library System

Dynamic Dialogue: Push Back Against Book Challenges
9:30 AM - 4:00 PM Eastern
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Advocacy, Intellectual Freedom, Communication, and Safety & Security
Event Description
The 2023 Dynamic Dialogue conference, entitled “Push Back against Book Challenges”, will focus on methods for counteracting the effort to ban books in libraries.  The day-long format of the conference will include a Keynote speaker, six breakout sessions, and will conclude with a Closing speaker. Breakout sessions will be scheduled so that every attendee may attend two different sessions.  

Keynote:  Understanding the fight against book bans
The library industry is currently facing a political crisis in the form of book bans. But why are political organizations and leaders taking aim at libraries and books? In this session we'll shine a light on some of the data and information behind the book ban movement that you might not know. We'll discuss the motivating factors among the book banners and their long term objectives. We'll also explore some of the ways that libraries can fight back and what it will take to win against this current "culture war" against libraries, reading, and books.

Presenter: Patrick Sweeney is  2007 graduate of the San Jose School of Library and Information Sciences and former Administrative Librarian of the Sunnyvale (CA) Public Library.  He was awarded Library Journal’s “Movers and Shakers” award in 2015 for his library advocacy work. He is co-author of “Winning Elections and Influencing Politicians for Library Funding” as well as “Before the Ballot; Building Support for Library Funding.” He was recently recognized with a “40 Under 40” award by the American Association of Political Consultants for his work fighting for libraries at EveryLibrary. He is a lecturer at the San Jose Information School where he teaches courses on politics and libraries. He is active across social media as PC Sweeney.

Breakout Session 1

Be Prepared! Using Policy to Navigate Materials Challenges 

School and public libraries have experienced unprecedented numbers of book challenges since the fall of 2021. Make sure your organization is prepared! This presentation will focus on developing sound reconsideration policies and proactively responding to materials challenges.

Presenter: Belinda Boon is a Professor at Kent State University’s School of Information where she has taught since 2006. Her graduate and undergraduate courses include Collection Management, Information Services for Diverse Populations, Information Sources & Reference Services, and Information Fluency in the Workplace and Beyond.

What’s the Bottom Line? 
When would-be censors approach you with a complaint, what is it they are really objecting to?  And what’s your best defenses?  We’ll spend some time looking at identities and objections to those identities in books, services, and offerings that spark complaints, and what your best offense and defense is. 

Presenter:  Christina Dorr’s love affair with books began early when her mother took her to the tiny, red-brick public library in their village. This involvement has led her to become an award-winning librarian, faculty member, author, presenter, and consultant. She has served on a number of state and national book award committees, including the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Geisel Award, and Stonewall committees. Profiles in Resilience: Books for Children and Teens that Center the Lived Experience of Generational Poverty is her third book, and second published by the American Library Association. You can visit her website at

A Directors Panel: Who Have Seen the Worst
First Panelist: 
How libraries can respond to book challenges, and related topics.

Bryonna Barton is a seasoned librarian professional residing in Lansing, Michigan. Barton quickly became enamored with local service in 2012 after beginning her career in her hometown of Mulliken, Michigan, at the Mulliken District Library. Recognizing her passion, she attended Wayne State University, earning a Masters of Library and Information Science and a Public Services to Children and Young Adults certification in Dec. 2021.

Before graduating, Barton accepted a position as Library Director for the Hillsdale Community Library in Nov. 2021. Her activism for intellectual freedom began soon after select board members and the community began challenging books. Most recently, joining the Eaton Rapids Area District Library in June of 2022, Barton continues to advance her career and strengthen the conviction of activists nationwide.

Barton is an active member of the Michigan Library Association Intellectual Freedom Task Force and has become a thought leader on intellectual freedom. Her name can be found in articles written for the American Library Association and the Library Journal.

Second Panelist
Are you looking for some insight into what Intellectual Freedom Book Challenges may look like at a Public Library? I will discuss what I learned through this process, how it affected staff, the challenges within the community and so much more. 

Heather Miller is the Director at the Ashland Public Library. Miller has ten years of experience in libraries, including 5 years as the Support Services Manager and 5 years as the Director. She holds a Masters in Integrative Pharmacology & Toxicology from Michigan State University. Miller grew up in Michigan, but has been in Ashland since 2009. Miller plays an active role in her community serving as the treasurer of the South Central Band Boosters. She loves being a parent to her three kids and her fur babies. She believes in transforming the library to meet the needs of both the community and her patrons.

Breakout Session 2

When Disaster Strikes: How to Handle Staff, Stakeholders, Patrons, the Media, and Yourself in a Crisis
At some point your library will face a crisis. Perhaps it will be a non-lethal but worrisome issue–black mold found in study rooms or a power outage that lasts several days. Perhaps it will be more severe, like a book challenge that threatens to destroy staff morale, ruin the reputation of your library, and put your funding at risk. Now is the time to prepare.

 Learning Objectives:

 • How to create a disaster communications plan
• Five specific tips for handling the media
• The do’s and don’ts of communicating with your patron base during the crisis

Presenter: Angela HurshSenior Engagement ConsultantNoveList
In this role she helps libraries create effective and engaging marketing, within budget and with a personalized approach. Angela’s background includes more than six years as the Content Team Leader for the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, and more than 20 years as an Emmy-award winning broadcast television news journalist. Angela is passionate about library marketing and has expertise in collection marketing, strategy, public relations, email, and social media.

What’s the Bottom Line?:  When It Gets to Be a Stickier Situation with Children’s and Teen’s Materials and Services 
We’ll continue from the previous session and bring it in closer as to why and how would-be censors attack youth books and offerings.  We’ll explore some cases, and actions, and results, and start homing in on defenses and solutions.  We’ll also look at some books for children/teens that deal with the topic. 

Presenter:  Christina Dorr

From Banned Books Week to a Book Sanctuary
With the rise in bans and challenges that libraries are facing across the country, libraries have become a battleground. We all have policies in place regarding bans and challenges, we celebrate Banned Books Week, and we're soldiers for Intellectual Freedom. But what can we do to take these initiatives even farther? Learn how Dayton Metro Library took Banned Books Week even farther!

Learning Objectives:
  • Understand the importance of Intellectual Freedom and the issues we face in our Libraries.
  • Gain new and innovative ways to celebrate Banned Books Week.
  • Learn about book sanctuaries and how to become a book sanctuary.
Presenter:  Steve Moser is the Teen Services Librarian at the Trotwood Branch of the Dayton Metro Library. He has worked with teens in a variety of positions in libraries since 2004. He has worked with the Ohio Library Council, serving on multiple committees, and chairing several. Steve is one of the founders of the Teen Think Tank, a grassroots effort to inspire, collaborate, and connect with others, reaching hundreds of librarians in Ohio, and numerous other states. He is currently a part of Ohio's Transforming Teen Services Team through YALSA.

Closing Speakers:
Handling Complaints or Protests About Content Safely
How do we safely and carefully handle one or more angry or outraged patrons who complain about items (books, films, magazines, CDs, etc.) in our library?
This session is for all library staff and library leaders to respond with tact and skill when it comes to complaints about what one or more patrons thinks is inappropriate content in the library. This session will also discuss how to handle the security issues and media management related to an organized protest about potentially controversial materials, both in or near your library.

Steve Albrecht - Business Owner - Dr. Steve Albrecht, PHR, CPP, CTM |  LinkedInDr. Steve Albrecht has trained thousands of library employees in 28+ states, live and online, in service, safety, security, and supervision. His programs are fast, entertaining, and provide tools that can be put to use immediately in the library workspace with all types of patrons. In 2015, the ALA published his book, Library Security: Better Communication, Safer Facilities. He is currently writing the sequel, The Safe Library: Keeping Users, Staff, and Collections Secure, for Rowman & Littlefield.
Steve holds a doctoral degree in Business Administration (D.B.A.), an M.A. in Security Management, a B.A. in English, and a B.S. in Psychology. He is board-certified in HR, security management, employee coaching, and threat assessment.

Barry Trott is Adult Services Consultant at the Library of Virginia, where he helps public libraries across the Commonwealth plan and develop services for adult library users. He earned his MSLS from The Catholic University of America School of Library and Information Science in 1997 and then worked at the Williamsburg Regional Library for 24 years, starting off as a reference librarian and then as readers’ services librarian. In 2001, he became Adult Services Director, and in 2012 was appointed Digital Services Director, where he served until 2014 when he was appointed Director of Special Projects and Technical Services. Barry is past-president of the American Library Association’s Reference and User Services Association (RUSA). He edited the readers’ advisory column for Reference and User Services Quarterly (RUSQ) from 2004-2012 and served as editor-in-chief of RUSQ from 2012-2018. He was the series editor for Libraries Unlimited’s Read On series and author of Read On . . . Crime Fiction (2008), and has contributed articles or chapters to numerous publications, including The Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, Reference Reborn (Libraries Unlimited, 2010), Journal of Library Administration, and Research-Based Readers’ Advisory (ALA Editions, 2008). Barry has presented programs at the American Library Association annual conference, the Public Library Association conference, and the Virginia Library Association conference and for library systems throughout the country.
Hilton Garden Inn
8971 Wilcox Dr
Twinsburg, OH 44087

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Contact Person
Who should attend: Anyone interested in learning more about book challenges

Competency:  Intellectual Freedom, Advocacy, Communication, and Safey & Security

Non-Member Cost:    $50.00
NEO-RLS Bronze Member Cost:  $37.50
NEO-RLS Silver Member Cost:   $25.00
NEO-RLS Gold Member Cost:      FREE
NEO-RLS Individual Member Cost:  $25.00
There is an additional $35 surcharge for facility use and amenities.
We encourage you to register a minimum of three (3) days in advance for this event in order to ensure that we can accommodate your full participation in terms of seating, hand-outs, food, etc.
It’s never too late to save your library money. NEO Memberships are pro-rated! Call us today to join.

Thanks to a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), awarded by the State Library of Ohio.
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