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Managing Challenges, Maximizing Impact: Policies and Practices for Controversial Programming Saturday, June 28; 10:30-11:30a.m. Speakers: Lesley Williams.

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Presentation on theme: "Managing Challenges, Maximizing Impact: Policies and Practices for Controversial Programming Saturday, June 28; 10:30-11:30a.m. Speakers: Lesley Williams."— Presentation transcript:

1 Managing Challenges, Maximizing Impact: Policies and Practices for Controversial Programming Saturday, June 28; 10:30-11:30a.m. Speakers: Lesley Williams Head of Adult Services and Muslim Journeys Project Director, Evanston (Ill.) Public Library Martin Garnar Chair, ALA Committee on Professional Ethics Reference Services Librarian and Professor of Library Science, Regis University Presented by the ALA Public Programs Office and the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom.

2 Dealing with Controversy Public Library Programs That Challenge Lesley Williams

3 Common Faux Pas One-sided publicity efforts. Panel not balanced. No clear vision for the program. Weak or overly polemical speaker. Ignorance of topic or of speaker – no surprises!

4 Be Prepared! Know your topic. Know your speakers. Know your institutional policies. Know your community. Know the law.

5 Dealing with Your Administration Relate program to your mission. “All publicity is good publicity.” No such thing as controversy-free. Community connections.

6 Dealing with the Media Have an elevator speech ready. Anticipate the “gotcha” questions. Stay on topic, on message. Have a “cheat sheet” handout.

7 Handling Tough Conversations Acknowledge the emotions involved. Acknowledge the controversy. Don’t expect miracles. Demand respect.

8 Work with Your Speakers Introduce your panel. Highlight their background, accomplishments. Use their experience. Ask them for humanizing stories, anecdotes.

9 Facilitator Strategies Review ground rules/agreements. Control the mic. Use written questions. Resist shout outs.

10 Sample Agreements for Dialogue Speak only for yourself, not for your “group.” Allow others to finish speaking. Ask questions to learn, not to convince others. Address people by the names and terms they prefer. Avoid assigning beliefs or motives to others. What’s said in the room stays in the room.

11 Icebreaker Questions What brings you here today? What do you hope to get out of today’s conversations? Can you tell us about a time when you felt you were “the only one” in the room, the office, the dorm... What do you love best about this town/college?

12 Some Key Phrases “Excuse me, but do you have a question?” “Please don’t generalize about any group.” “Does anyone have a different view?” “I appreciate your passion. Let’s give someone else the floor.”

13 Keeping Everyone Safe Hire security, make them visible. Greet everyone at the door; make eye contact. Speak calmly, keep your voice low. State your expectations and enforce them.

14 Resources Public Conversations project 20,000 Dialogues Dialogue Institute of the Southwest

15 “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it.” Lesley Williams Head of Adult Services, Evanston Public Library

16 Responding to Community Challenges Martin Garnar

17 Goals of This Section Review potential scenarios and discuss options for response. Review resources from ALA. Field questions from the audience.

18 Scenario 1 A woman comes to the desk with one of your Muslim Journey books and says, “We don’t have any Muslims in this area. Why did you spend my tax dollars on this stuff?” How do you respond?

19 Scenario 2 A man brandishing one of your Muslim Journey event posters storms into your office and says “You’re promoting a religion! That’s a violation of the separation of church and state!” What’s your response?

20 Scenario 3 A woman walks up to your desk with 25 books on Christianity. She says that her church would like to donate them so that they can balance out the Muslim books from your grant. What’s your response?

21 Scenario 4 After your screening of one of the Muslim Journey films, an audience member requests that the library put on a similar program for The Passion of The Christ. What are the issues to consider when you respond?

22 Scenario 5 A man comes to your library with a list of books that are critical of Islam and asks them to be added to your collection so that “the other side of the story” is being told. What are the issues to consider when you respond?

23 Resources from ALA: General Intellectual Freedom Manual,

24 Resources from ALA: General Religion in American Libraries: Questions and Answers, meetingrooms/religion-q-a

25 ALA: Collection Development Diversity of Collection Development: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights,

26 ALA: Collection Development Public Library Collection Development Policies and Intellectual Freedom,

27 ALA: Complaints and Media Relations Guidelines for Responding to Complaints, guidelinecomplaint

28 ALA: Complaints and Media Relations Privacy Tool Kit, privacyconfidentiality/toolkitsprivacy/privacy

29 Questions?

30 Contact Us Martin Garnar Lesley Williams Lainie Castle ALA OIF ALA PPO


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