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TIE Podcast Spring Semester: A Conversation with Deborah Caldwell-Stone

Recorded on 02/24/2022
Posted in TIE Podcast

TIE Podcast · A Conversation with Deborah Caldwell-Stone

In this spring semester episode, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, Director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom and Executive Director of the Freedom to Read Foundation, discusses the drastic increase in book banning and challenges in recent years. Alexia Hudson-Ward, podcast host and editor in chief of Toward Inclusive Excellence, chats with Deborah about why these current challenges demand such attention. Indeed, the concerted and highly-organized efforts have garnered not only high-profile media coverage, but also, in some troubling cases, praise and legislative support from politicians. Alexia and Deborah dive into the topics and themes under attack—particularly books by LGBTQ+ and Black authors—and the weaponization of critical race theory by censorship groups.

In addition, Deborah walks through the importance of institutions implementing robust and transparent policies for dealing with and addressing demands for book bans and challenges. She also provides actionable steps that advocates can take in their communities to resist book bans, including the work of organizations like PEN America, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the ACLU, Red Wine and Blue, and the Freedom to Read Foundation. Despite the dismaying trends, Deborah closes with encouraging and hopeful anecdotes on the reinstating of books after initial opposition, and the bravery of today’s youth for standing against censorship and for their freedom to read.


Deborah Caldwell-Stone headshot

About the guest:

Deborah Caldwell-Stone
Director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom
American Library Association

Deborah Caldwell-Stone is the Director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) and Executive Director of the Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF). Deborah serves as the principal representative of ALA to organizations that support intellectual freedom and open access to information and privacy, both nationally and internationally. She is responsible for the overall operational and fiscal management of the office. As Executive Director of FTRF, Deborah has management authority as well as responsibility for advancing the goals of education and outreach of the Foundation. She is also the secretariat for the LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund, which provides support to library workers who are, in the Trustees’ opinions, denied employment rights or discriminated against on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, color, creed, religion, age, disability, or place of national origin or denied employment rights because of defense of intellectual freedom. 

Deborah joined the American Library Association two decades ago, assuming the directorship of the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2019. Prior to joining ALA in 2000, Caldwell-Stone served as an attorney and former appellate litigator with the law firm of Cassiday, Schade & Gloor and as litigation attorney in the Ameritech legal department. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in mass media communications from the Cleveland State University and is an honors graduate of the Chicago-Kent College of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology, where she holds a Juris Doctor.


Episode theme music: Black is the Night by Jeris (c) copyright 2014 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license. Ft: DJ Vadim (djvadim) , NiGiD


Learn more about Toward Inclusive Excellence:

The ongoing TIE Podcast series will feature provocative, in-depth conversations with important figures in the higher education community to help administrators and academic leaders understand racism from new perspectives and to promote racial justice on their campuses. 

Check out the Toward Inclusive Excellence blog, which covers issues related to racial and social justice and provides actionable resources for those in higher education and beyond.

Be sure to sign up for alerts on the latest Toward Inclusive Excellence (TIE) content, whether it’s a new blog post, podcast episode, or webinar.

Interested in contributing to TIE? Send an email to Deb V. at Choice dvillavicencio@ala-choice.org with your topic idea.