Knox to speak at Information Ethics Roundtable

Posted: March 30, 2016

Assistant Professor Emily Knox will speak at the Information Ethics Roundtable on April 8 at the University of Arizona. This annual interdisciplinary meeting addresses the ethical questions raised by life in an information society. The 2016 Roundtable will focus on the relationship between intellectual freedom, access to information, and privilege.

Knox will copresent her paper, “Values, Culture, and Censorship: The 2015 Banned Books Week Poster Controversy,” with Shannon Oltmann of the University of Kentucky's College of Communication and Information, at 2:00 p.m.

From the abstract: In April 2015 the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) released its poster for September’s Banned Books Week. The poster featured a brown-skinned woman with long hair holding a book with cutouts for her eyes. The design was intended to look like a “Do Not Enter” sign and included the word “Readstricted.” Soon after its release, the design was the subject of criticism across social media and listservs. Some within the library community argued that the poster looked like a woman in niqab, a female Muslim sartorial style that covers everything but the eyes.

The controversy over the poster embodies many long-standing disputes in librarianship, especially the tension between the values of intellectual freedom and social justice/responsibility. In order to more fully explore the controversy, the authors conducted interviews with members of the library community and the staff of the OIF. This study examines the themes of offense and intellectual freedom, tangibly enacted in the form of a controversial poster.

Knox also will participate in a panel on the topic, “Mapping Information Poverty: Theory and Tools for Libraries to Provide Equitable Opportunity for Intellectual Freedom,” at 4:30 p.m. Again with Oltmann, she will discuss their project, Mapping Information Access, a collaborative academic research project to study and understand the landscape of information access and availability in public schools and libraries in the United States.  

Knox's research interests include intellectual freedom and censorship, the intersection of print culture and reading practices, and information ethics and policy. Her book, Book Banning in 21st Century America (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015) addresses challenges to materials in public libraries and schools. She recently was named a 2015 Instructor of the Year by the Web-based Information Science Education (WISE) Consortium.

Knox joined the GSLIS faculty in 2012. She received her PhD from the doctoral program at the Rutgers University School of Communication & Information and her master’s in library and information science from GSLIS. She also holds a BA in religious studies from Smith College and an AM in the same field from The University of Chicago Divinity School.

Filed Under: Ethics and Values for Information, Information Access, intellectual freedom, faculty news, conferences