PDA Event: De-escalation: A Crucial Tool in Libraries for Promoting Intellectual Freedom

Tuesday, January 24, 2023 - 11:00am to 12:30pm

Speakers photo collage

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This webinar is the first session of a two-part De-escalation Tools and Techniques for Library Staff Series, a Professional Development Alliance collaboration between CARLI and Minitex. 

Librarians have heard and experienced the trend of increased materials challenges and irate patrons. Yet every day library staff members respond to materials challenges in ways that lead to non-events. It is the confrontations and protests that are featured in the news, but dedicated library staff consistently lower the temperature and prevent conflicts. Moderators Betsy Mahoney and Julia Nephew with presenters Janice Del Negro, Joyce McIntosh, and Steven Ward will explore the training, skills, and best practices that help library staff de-escalate tense encounters with library users.

Before January 12, share your biggest de-escalation challenges, questions, and experiences with our speakers via this anonymous form.


Betsy Mahoney is the Assistant Director/Johnson Road Manager at the Six Mile Regional Library. She is the chair of the ILA Reaching Forward South committee and a member of the Intellectual Freedom committee. When not working on schedules or collection diversity audits, Betsy enjoys listening to audio books while she is working in her garden.

Janice Del Negro, PhD, is a Professor at the School of Information Studies at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois, where she teaches all things youth services related, including Materials for Young Adults, Fairy Tale Fantasy and Contemporary Media, and Storytelling. Her book, Folktales Aloud: Practical Advice for Playful Storytelling, was awarded a Storytelling World Resource Award in 2015. Her subsequent title, Engaging Teens with Story: How to Inspire and Educate Youth with Storytelling (With Melanie Kimball, PhD, 2017) was named SLC/ARBA’s “Best Professional Resource for School or Youth Librarians.” In 2017 Del Negro received the National Storytelling Network’s Circle of Excellence Award, “presented to artists who are recognized by their peers to be master storytellers who set the standards for excellence and have demonstrated, over a significant period of time, a commitment and dedication to the art of storytelling.” Her most recent publication is the new edition of the classic storytelling text, Storytelling Art & Technique (ABC/CLIO, 2021) which received the 2022 Storytelling World Resource Award.

Joyce McIntosh is the Assistant Program Director for the Freedom to Read Foundation, an organization dedicated to First Amendment education, litigation, and advocacy. She has worked at the intersection of intellectual freedom, communication, and the First Amendment for three decades. Her degrees in journalism (Michigan State University) and library and information science (Wayne State University) have led her to work for newspapers, non-profits, and for the last two decades in libraries. She worked at Elmhurst Public Library in Elmhurst, IL before joining FTRF.

Julia Nephew is a recent member of the ILA Intellectual Freedom Committee. She is also a member of the 2023 Caldecott Award Committee. Julia authored several blog posts for the ALA-ALSC Intellectual Freedom blog when she was a member of the ALSC IF Committee. She is published in Children and Libraries.

Steven Ward has been Library Director at the Forsyth Public Library since September, 2021. He served as Library Director at the Taylorville Public Library for four years prior to coming to Forsyth, and has also worked in academic and research libraries. He has Master's Degrees in American History and Library and Information Science, and is passionate about intellectual freedom, access, DEI, instruction, reference, local history, and so much more.

Hosted by CARLI