Protect The Right To Read: Neutrality, Challenges, and Censorship

A purple background with faint dots. In the bottom left hand corner is a row of books with their spines facing inward so you can only see the pages. Above this is white text with the title of the webinar. To the right are three dots in lime green, teal, and bright blue with the names of each speaker. Below the dots in the lower right corner is text with the date and time of the program.

Event Description:

Registration is now closed. Please reach out to Caitlin or Jenn if you are still interested in attending.

Join us for this half-day virtual symposium.

Objective: Inform library staff, educators, school administrators, and legislators about the current landscape of the book challenge movement happening across New York State and the rest of the country. Attendees will learn about legal measures and policies that can be used to both prevent and combat these challenges in schools and libraries. Additionally, they will be equipped with the tools needed to address any coordinated harassment campaigns directed towards libraries or library staff by malicious individuals.


1:00 – 2:00 pm     Neutrality Is Not An Option: The State of Book Bans, “Culture Wars,” and Current Perceptions of the Library - Kelly Jensen, Editor, Book Riot

Coordinated book banning efforts have been underway for nearly 2 years, and each week brings with it new tactics from the censors to accomplish their work. This presentation will look at how these groups are organizing, the tools they’re using, and what potential next targets may be. The entire ecosystem of books, publishing, reading, and knowledge are under attack, threatening to make books and access to books a luxury. “Neutrality Is Not An Option” will explore the reality of why book bans are going to continue and how books represent the bigger agenda of erasure and eradication of marginalized people. The presentation will include a look at parental perceptions of the library and ways library workers can keep themselves prepared and safe.

2:00 – 3:00 pm       Ready for the Challenge: Legal Measures - Stephanie “Cole” Adams, The Law Office of Stephanie Adams, PLLC

Challenges, high-profile criticism, and community dissent over library programming and collection content have been happening--and continue to happen. Attendees in this session will learn about legal measures and policies that can be used to both prevent and combat these challenges in schools and libraries. Additionally, they will be equipped with the tools needed to address any coordinated harassment campaigns directed towards libraries or library staff by malicious individuals. This presentation will provide a legal framework, including implementing effective policies and training to ensure library staff, administration, and board members are prepared for any challenges or harassment that may result.

3:00 – 4:00 pm        Bills Supporting Books: The Path to Legislative Protection Against Book Bans in New York State - Max Prime, Director of Government Relations & Advocacy, New York Library Association

Bills Supporting Books will provide an overview of current legislative proposals in the New York State Legislature intended to curb the threat of challenges to materials, services, and programming in New York’s libraries.  The presentation will break down the range of solutions currently introduced in the State Assembly and Senate, compare them to what’s happening in other states around the country, and outline the path forward once the 2024 legislative session begins.



CTLE credit available upon request.

This event will be recorded. The recording will be distributed to all registrants regardless of attendance. However, registrants must attend live to receive a certificate.

Event Date:


CE Hours:


CEU Hours:


CTLE Hours:


Presenter Information:

Kelly Jensen, Stephanie Cole Adams, and Max Prime

Kelly Jensen is an Editor at Book Riot, the largest independent book website in North America. She covers all things young adult literature and has written about censorship for nearly ten years. She is the author of three critically-acclaimed and award-winning anthologies for young adults on the topics of feminism, mental health, and the body. She was named a person of the year in 2022 by Publishers Weekly and a Chicagoan of the year in 2022 by the Chicago Tribune for her anti-censorship work. She has also earned commendation from the American Association of School Librarians for her censorship coverage. Prior to her work at Book Riot, she was a public librarian for children, teens, and adults in several libraries in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. She is currently enrolled in a clinical mental health counseling master's program to bolster her work with mental health.

Stephanie "Cole" Adams is an attorney in Buffalo, New York. Her law firm, the LOSA, focuses on laws that impact the cultural and built environment; her primary clients are libraries, educators, students, and creative professionals. The LOSA also provides the Ask the Lawyer service developed by the Western New York Library Resources Council and which now serves all nine councils of the Empire State Library Network. Cole has represented clients in New York State and federal courts on matters related to the first amendment, intellectual property, land use, and contracts (among other things). She has also represented clients before the New York State Education Commissioner and the World Intellectual Property Organization ("WIPO"). Her work for organizations blends her legal experience with enterprise risk management, crisis/hazard response, and strategic planning. She is a graduate of Hampshire College and SUNY Buffalo School of Law. She gardens, keeps bees, and likes to visit water.

Max Prime is the Director of Government Relations & Advocacy at the New York Library Association (NYLA). Since arriving in January of 2023 Max has led NYLA’s statewide advocacy efforts, pursuing increased state aid for libraries as well as legislative initiatives intended to protect and empower New York’s library community. Prior to his work with NYLA, Max worked in the district offices of several members of the United States House of Representatives including the Office of Former Congressman Antonio Delgado, the Office of Congressman Paul D. Tonko, the Office of Congressman Pat Ryan, and the vacant Office of the 19th Congressional District of New York. He holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from Union Graduate College (now Clarkson University) and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Union College, both in Schenectady, New York. Max is originally from Canajoharie, New York, and now resides in the state’s Capitol Region.

Please login to register for events