School Librarian Martha Hickson Helps Develop Website for Librarians Facing Book Challenges

Demo Defense uses a web-based tutorial to guide librarians through reporting challenges and finding support, as well as to help the public donate to organizations fighting censorship.

New Jersey high school librarian Martha Hickson shared her story of resisting the book’s challenge to help other librarians. Now, I helped develop a website for the same purpose.

In collaboration with the creator of the webinar iorad, Demo Defense guides librarians on what to do when faced with a challenge and helps the public in ways they can help.

For Hickson, the Demo Defense project has three goals: to make it easier for librarians to report a challenge to multiple organizations; Raising awareness of censorship attempts and book bans; And to help raise money for the organizations it supports, including EveryLibrary.

The iorad web tool allows users to create tutorials that can be superimposed on any web browser. In the Defense Demo, the tool identifies the reporting challenges each organization faces, and also allows the public to help the case.

“One of the things we know about challenges is that they are not underreported,” Hickson commented.

Hickson says people are afraid to report challenges, or they don’t know where or how to report them. Demo Defense details the process step-by-step — what organizations to contact and how to navigate to report a challenge within those websites. And it’s easy to report to more than just one, including the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom, EveryLibrary, PEN America, the National Coalition Against Censorship, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

The Demo Defense collaboration came after iorad’s chief happiness officer Dipti Patel read about Hickson and asked Arlen Kimelman, iorad’s director of public engagement, if they could help. It just so happened that Kimmelson is a former NJ school librarian. I reached out to Hickson and asked what the company and its web tool could do. Hickson immediately had thoughts. She was already using it for lessons that often required frequent instructions or reminders, such as how to navigate a database.

“I thought a great use of iorad would be to show people where to go and what to do once they got there,” Hickson says. “The other thing is that a lot of people have asked me over the past year, ‘How can I help? “One of the big things they can do to help is help the organizations that have helped me, the organizations that support the First Amendment and the right to read. Those organizations need money.”

Demo Defense also shows users how to donate, which is another important function of Hexon.

“What EveryLibrary did was a heroic thing,” she says. “[Executive director] John Chrastka was by my side, an eight-week phone call, free of charge. “

For Kimmelman, it was an opportunity to give back to her past career and the organizations she once helped as well. When she was a librarian at Clearview Regional High School in Molica Hill, New Jersey, she also faced a challenge. At first, I struggled to get help.

“Everyone thinks locally, who can help me locally?” “But when I finally got my ALA, they guided me through every step.”

She ended up with a file of information that, she says, was very comprehensive, and she took on the challenge and the book stayed on the shelf. With Demo Defense, users have all the resources in one place, says Kimmelman. Just as important as documenting the challenge reporting process, it shows support.

“If someone has a problem, they don’t feel alone,” Kimmelman says.

When reporting a challenge online, most organizations websites offer to contact the librarian to report the challenge for further assistance, she says.

“It is a relief to know these things. [organizations] Is there support for you?”