Select Page

Materials Selection Policy

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

B1

MATERIALS SELECTION POLICY
Approved: 12/16/2004
Revised: 4/17/2019

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. Purpose of a Selection Policy

II. Statement of our Philosophy

III. Selection Process and Collection Maintenance

  • A. Responsibility for Selection
  • B. Criteria for Selection
  • C. Gifts
  • D. Patron Suggestions
  • E. Weeding

IV. Attempts to Limit Access to Materials

  • A. Policies & Procedures Affecting Access
  • B. Interlibrary Loan
  • C. Patron’s Right to Access
  • D. Free Access to Library Materials for Minors

V. Challenged Materials

  • A. Challenged Materials: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
  • B. Request for Reconsideration
  • C. Request for Reconsideration Form

VI. Appendices

  • A. Library Bill of Rights
  • B. Code of Ethics
  • C. Freedom to Read Statement
  • D. Freedom to View Statement
  • E. Diversity in Collection Development
  • F. Expurgation of Library Materials
  • G. Library-Initiated Programs as a Resource

*Replaced “Access for children and Young Adults to Non-Profit Material,” which has been retired by the ALA office of intellectual Freedom.

I. Purpose of a  Selection Policy

The Ypsilanti District Library’s mission, “to enrich life, stimulate intellectual curiosity, foster literacy, and encourage an informed citizenry,” is realized through its materials collections and programs in various formats. The Materials Selection Policy defines the values and collection building process which contribute to YDL’s successful implementation of its mission.

The policy also serves as a clear statement regarding the type of materials to be purchased as well as a tool to review procedures for adding new materials and formats in the future. It can help avoid personal bias in selection, while also demonstrating the library’s clear commitment to serving all members of its community. The policy provides guidelines for both acquisition and weeding of materials, and the formal framework within which to address challenged materials. It also helps to assure continuity.

II. Statement of our Philosophy

A. YDL embraces the values articulated in the following documents, and bases this Material Selection Policy on the following library standards, included as Appendices in this policy:

Appendix A. The Library Bill of Rights
Appendix B. Code of Ethics of the American Library Association
Appendix C. Freedom to Read Statement
Appendix D. Freedom to View Statement
Appendix E. Diversity in Collection Development
Appendix F. Expurgation of Library Materials
Appendix G. Library-Initiated Programs as a Resource

Further, for more specific interpretations, YDL relies on the Intellectual Freedom Manual of the American Library Association, 9 th edition. Copyright 2015.

III. Selection Process and Collection Maintenance

YDL’s selection policy applies to all materials purchased or obtained for public use, including books, magazines, reference material, electronic and audio-visual material and ephemera as well as programs offered for public enrichment.

A. Responsibility for Selection

The ordinary source from which the great majority of orders originate is the material selectors. Department Heads and Branch heads, as their titles imply, maintain general guidance over the material selection of the entire library within their particular areas. Ultimate responsibility for material selection, however, rests with the Director.

B. Criteria for Selection

  1. Value of the materials in relation to the whole collection
  2. Accuracy, effectiveness, and comprehensiveness of presentation of subject matter
  3. Current interest or patron demand for subject
  4. Present and potential relevance to community needs
  5. Timeliness
  6. Suitability of the format to library use
  7. Suitability of subject and style for the intended audience
  8. Interest the item has received from critics, reviewers and public
  9. Reputation and authoritativeness of the author and/or publisher
  10. Price
  11. Anticipated long-term use of material
  12. Availability through other avenues, such as interlibrary loan, websites, digital access, online databases, etc.
  13. Quality of physical characteristics (binding, print size, number of pieces, etc)
  14. Readability
  15. Local interest or a prominent local author
  16. Existing commitment to a series or subject matter
  17. Diversity of Viewpoint
  18. Additional Criteria for Electronic Resources
    1. Ease of access, use, and number of access points
    2. Hardware and software requirements, including maintenance
    3. Vendor support and contractual requirements
    4. Comparison of content with other formats available
    5. Networking capabilities
    6. Ownership of product
  19. As a general rule, the library does not acquire textbooks for academic __coursework.

C. Gifts

Gifts are evaluated in the same manner as materials considered for purchase by the Library. The library retains unconditional ownership of all gifts and reserves the right to reject any gift.

Gifts in good condition are encouraged and welcomed. Gift books and other materials are evaluated branch by branch using the same selection criteria as other materials. The library makes all decisions as to use, display, storage, or other disposition of donated materials. Gift materials not meeting selection criteria may be given to the Friends of the Library or other organizations, sold, exchanged, discarded or recycled. Gifts with contingencies cannot be accepted.

The Library gladly accepts monetary gifts, memorials, and bequests, and will make every effort to use these gifts in accordance with the wishes of the donor. Receipts indicating the quantity and nature of gifts will be provided on request. However, the Library does not provide appraisals or evaluations of gifts for tax purposes.

D. Patron Suggestion

The Library welcomes material suggestions from its cardholders. Suggestions are evaluated using the established criteria for selection. Suggestions are not guarantees of purchase, including works by local, self published, and/or aspiring authors. YDL encourages writers to learn about publishing and to submit their work to editorial scrutiny by known and well regarded publishers. The availability of material through established library vendors, the perceived interest of the item to the larger community as a whole, and the readiness of specification-established processing and cataloging records are a factor in selecting works.

E. Weeding

Systematic and ongoing removal of materials is necessary in order to maintain a current, accurate library collection. Since withdrawing materials from the collection is selection in reverse, many of the same criteria for selecting materials and the same selection tools are used in the process. In addition, the following criteria may be applied:

  1. Insufficient use
  2. Obsolete or misleading information
  3. Irreparable damage to materials
  4. Changes in local interest
  5. Shelf space availability
  6. Existence of duplicate copies
  7. Existence of new or superseding editions
  8. Availability of material through interlibrary loan
  9. Availability of material through digital/electronic means.

IV. Attempts to Limit Access to Materials

A. Policies and Procedures Affecting Access to Library Resources & Services

The central thrust of the Library Bill of Rights is to protect and encourage the free flow of information and ideas.

The Ypsilanti District Library Board rejects the establishment of administrative policies and procedures regulating access to resources, services and facilities, i.e. specific collections, reference services, interlibrary loan, programs, meeting rooms, and exhibit space. Such policies and procedures governing the order and protection of library materials and facilities, and the planning of library programs and exhibits, could become a convenient means for removing and restricting access to controversial materials, limiting access to programs or exhibits, or for discriminating against specific groups of library patrons. Such abuse of administrative procedures or policies is in opposition to the Library Bill of Rights.

The Ypsilanti District Library Board’s position is that the policies and procedures for special collections must not be designed to restrict access and use for any reason other than the physical protection of the materials.

The YDL administration will examine all restrictions of resources or services associated with age, as all are violations of Article V of the Library Bill of Rights and the statement on restricted access to library materials.

For example, privileges associated with library cards should be consistent for all library users, regardless of age. Library policies in which certain patrons, usually minors, are denied library privileges available to other patrons are not endorsed by the Board, as they violate Article V as well as the statement on Free Access to Libraries for Minors. (See IV, D ).

B. Interlibrary Loan

The Interlibrary Loan Code for the United States of the American Library Association recommends that all library patrons be eligible for interlibrary loan, in accordance with Article V of the Library Bill of Rights and the statement Free Access to Libraries for Minors. The Interlibrary Loan Code states the importance of considering the needs and interests of all users, including children and young adults. The Ypsilanti District Library will provide the resources to meet the ordinary needs of all its primary clientele, and any YDL cardholders who are eligible for Interlibrary Loan. When libraries adhere to the Interlibrary Loan Code, access to information is protected.

For complete text of The Interlibrary Loan Code for the United States, please see www.ala.org

C. Patron’s Right of Access to Libraries

The Constitution of the State of Michigan, Article 8, Section 9, provides for access to public libraries by Michigan residents. The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, PA 453 of 1976, provides that public accommodations, which include public libraries, may not discriminate against patrons based on “religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status.”

Because Michigan public libraries are required to provide access to Michigan residents, and because the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act indicates that public libraries may not discriminate based on any of these conditions, a public library board must make all facets of library service available to all residents, regardless of classification.

D. Free Access to Libraries for Minors

The Board of Trustees of the Ypsilanti District Library opposes restricting access to library materials and services for minors and holds that it is the parents –and only the parents-who may restrict their children –and only their children-from access to library materials and services. Parents who would rather their children did not have access to certain materials should so advise their children. The library and its staff are responsible for providing equal access to library materials and services for all library patrons.

The word “age” was incorporated into Article V of the Library Bill of Rights because young people are entitled to the same access to libraries and to the materials in libraries as are adults. Materials selection should not be diluted on that account.

The restriction of certain materials to protect the materials from damage is not hereby opposed, but rather recognized as part of reasonable stewardship.

Please see Free Access to Libraries for Minors, available at www.ala.org

V. Challenged Resources

A. Challenged Resources: An Interpretation of the American Library Association Library Bill of Rights

The Ypsilanti District Library Board of Trustees supports the ALA position on challenged resources, including this excerpt:

Challenged resources which meet the criteria for selection in the materials selection policy of the library should not be removed under any legal or extra-legal pressure. The Library Bill of Rights states in Article 1 that “Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background or views of those contributing to their creation,” and in Article 2, that “Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” Freedom of expression is protected by the Constitution of the United States, but constitutionally protected expression is often separated from unprotected expression by only a dim and uncertain line. The Constitution requires a procedure designed to focus searchingly on challenged expression before it can be suppressed. An adversary hearing is part of this procedure.

Therefore, any attempt, be it legal or extra-legal, to regulate or suppress materials in libraries must be closely scrutinized to the end that protected expression is not abridged.

adopted June 25, 1971; amended July 1, 1981; amended January 10, 1990, by the ALA Council (for full text see http://www.ala.org)

B. Request for Reconsideration

The Board of Trustees recognizes the right of citizens to request that the library reevaluate any item in the collection. Individuals wishing reconsideration of an item must complete and sign a Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials form available at each YDL branch. The completed form should be forwarded to the Library Director. The Director will appoint a staff committee to research published reviews and evaluate the material being reconsidered. Neither selection nor removal of material will be determined by pressure from a group or individual. The committee will determine if the item under consideration meets the criteria of the library’s materials selection policy and will make a recommendation to the Director as to its disposition. A decision on the material’s status will be made by the Director, who will prepare a written reply to the individual submitting the form. The decision may result in maintaining the same status, changing the location, or removing the item from the collection.

C. Request for Reconsideration Form 

Please download and submit the Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials form, or ask for a copy of the form at any service desk.


VI. APPENDICES:

American Library Association

A. Library Bill of Rights
B. Code of Ethics of the American Library Association
C. Freedom to Read Statement
D. Freedom to View Statement
E. Diversity in Collection Development
F. Expurgation of Library Material
G. Library-Initiated Programs as a Resource

 

 

 

Appendix A. American Library Association /Library Bill of Rights

(for full text see American Library Association, http://www.ala.org)

The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.

  1. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
  2. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
  3. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
  4. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
  5. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
  6. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.
  7. All people, regardless of origin, age, background, or views, possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use. Libraries should advocate for, educate about, and protect people’s privacy, safeguarding all library use data, including personally identifiable information.

Adopted June 18, 1948. Amended February 2, 1961, and January 23, 1980: January 29, 2019. 

Inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996.

 

Appendix B. Code of Ethics of the American Library Association

(For complete text, see http://www.ala.org)

  1. We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.
  2. We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.
  3. We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.
  4. We recognize and respect intellectual property rights and advocate balance between the interests of information users and rights holders.
  5. We treat co-workers and other colleagues with respect, fairness and good faith, and advocate conditions of employment that safeguard the rights and welfare of all employees of our institutions.
  6. We do not advance private interests at the expense of library users, colleagues, or our employing institutions.
  7. We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources.
  8. We strive for excellence in the profession by maintaining and enhancing our own knowledge and skills, by encouraging the professional development of co-workers, and by fostering the aspirations of potential members of the profession.

Adopted at the 1939 Midwinter Meeting by the ALA Council; amended June 30, 1981; June 28, 1995; and January 22, 2008.

 

Appendix C. American Library Association/ Freedom to Read Statement

(For complete text, see http://www.ala.org)

1) It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular, or considered dangerous by the majority.

Creative thought is by definition new, and what is new is different. The bearer of every new thought is a rebel until that idea is refined and tested. Totalitarian systems attempt to maintain themselves in power by the ruthless suppression of any concept that challenges the established orthodoxy. The power of a democratic system to adapt to change is vastly strengthened by the freedom of its citizens to choose widely from among conflicting opinions offered freely to them. To stifle every nonconformist idea at birth would mark the end of the democratic process. Furthermore, only through the constant activity of weighing and selecting can the democratic mind attain the strength demanded by times like these. We need to know not only what we believe but why we believe it.

2) Publishers, librarians, and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation they make available. It would conflict with the public interest for them to establish their own political, moral, or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what should be published or circulated.

Publishers and librarians serve the educational process by helping to make available knowledge and ideas required for the growth of the mind and the increase of learning. They do not foster education by imposing as mentors the patterns of their own thought. The people should have the freedom to read and consider a broader range of ideas than those that may be held by any single librarian or publisher or government or church. It is wrong that what one can read should be confined to what another thinks proper.

3) It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the
author.

No art or literature can flourish if it is to be measured by the political views or private lives of its creators. No society of free people can flourish that draws up lists of writers to whom it will not listen, whatever they may have to say.

4)There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression.

To some, much of modern expression is shocking. But is not much of life itself shocking? We cut off literature at the source if we prevent writers
from dealing with the stuff of life. Parents and teachers have a responsibility to prepare the young to meet the diversity of experiences in life to which they will be exposed, as they have a responsibility to help them learn to think critically for themselves. These are affirmative responsibilities, not to be discharged simply by preventing them from reading works for which they are not yet prepared. In these matters values differ, and values cannot be legislated; nor can machinery be devised that will suit the demands of one group without limiting the freedom of others.

5) It is not in the public interest to force a reader to accept the prejudgment of a label characterizing any expression or its author as subversive or dangerous.

The ideal of labeling presupposes the existence of individuals or groups with wisdom to determine by authority what is good or bad for others. It presupposes that individuals must be directed in making up their minds about the ideas they examine. But Americans do not need others to do their thinking for them.

6) It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people’s freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large; and by the government whenever it seeks to reduce or deny public access to public information.

It is inevitable in the give and take of the democratic process that the political, the moral, or the aesthetic concepts of an individual or group will occasionally collide with those of another individual or group. In a free society individuals are free to determine for themselves what they wish to read, and each group is free to determine what it will recommend to its freely associated members. But no group has the right to take the law into its own hands, and to impose its own concept of politics or morality upon other members of a democratic society. Freedom is no freedom if it is accorded only to the accepted and the inoffensive. Further, democratic societies are more safe, free, and creative when the free flow of public  information is not restricted by governmental prerogative or self censorship.

7) It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians to give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing books that enrich the quality and diversity of
thought and expression. By the exercise of this affirmative responsibility, they can demonstrate that the answer to a “bad” book is a good one, the answer to a “bad” idea is a good one.

The freedom to read is of little consequence when the reader cannot obtain matter fit for that reader's purpose. What is needed is not only the absence of restraint, but the positive provision of opportunity for the people to read the best that has been thought and said. Books are the major
channel by which the intellectual inheritance is handed down, and the principal means of its testing and growth. The defense of the freedom to read requires of all publishers and librarians the utmost of their faculties, and deserves of all Americans the fullest of their support.

Adopted June 25, 1953; revised January 28, 1972, January 16, 1991, July 12, 2000, June 30, 2004, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee.

A Joint Statement by:

American Library Association and
Association of American Publishers

 

Appendix D. Freedom to View Statement/American Library Association

(for full text see http://www.ala.org)

The freedom to view, along with the freedom to speak, to hear, and to read, is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In a free society, there is no place for censorship of any medium of expression. Therefore these principles are affirmed:

  1. To provide the broadest access to film, video, and other audiovisual materials because they are a means for the communication of ideas. Liberty of circulation is essential to insure the constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression.
  2. To protect the confidentiality of all individuals and institutions using film, video, and other audiovisual materials.
  3. To provide film, video, and other audiovisual materials which represent a diversity of views and expression. Selection of a work does not constitute or imply agreement with or approval of the content.
  4. To provide a diversity of viewpoints without the constraint of labeling or prejudging film, video, or other audiovisual materials on the basis of the moral, religious, or political beliefs of the producer or filmmaker or on the basis of controversial content.
  5. To contest vigorously, by all lawful means, every encroachment upon the public’s freedom to view.

This statement was originally drafted by the Freedom to View Committee of the American Film and Video Association (formerly the Educational Film Library Association) and was adopted by the AFVA Board of Directors in February 1979. This statement was updated and approved by the AFVA Board of Directors in 1989.

Endorsed by the ALA Council January 10, 1990

 

 

Appendix E. Diversity in Collection Development: An Interpretation of the American Library Association Library Bill of Rights

(for complete text see http://www.ala.org)

Collection development should reflect the philosophy inherent in Article II of the Library Bill of Rights: “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” 

Library collections must represent the diversity of people and ideas in our society. There are many complex facets to any issue, and many contexts in which issues may be expressed, discussed, or interpreted. Librarians have an obligation to select and support access to content on all subjects that meet, as closely as possible, the needs, interests, and abilities of all persons in the community the library serves.

Librarians have a professional responsibility to be inclusive in collection development and in the provision of interlibrary loan. Access to all content legally obtainable should be assured to the user, and policies should not unjustly exclude content even if it is offensive to the librarian or the user. This includes content that reflect a diversity of issues, whether they be, for example, political, economic, religious, social, ethnic, or sexual. A balanced collection reflects a diversity of content, not an equality of numbers.

Collection development responsibilities include selecting content in different formats produced by independent, small and local producers as well as information resources from major producers and distributors. Content should represent the languages commonly used in the library’s service community and should include formats that meet the needs of users with disabilities. Collection development and the selection of content should be done according to professional standards and established selection and review procedures. Failure to select resources merely because they may be potentially controversial is censorship, as is withdrawing resources for the same reason.

Over time, individuals, groups, and entities have sought to limit the diversity of library collections. They cite a variety of reasons that include prejudicial language and ideas, political content, economic theory, social philosophies, religious beliefs, sexual content and expression, and other potentially controversial topics. Librarians have a professional responsibility to be fair, just, and equitable and to give all library users equal protection in guarding against violation of the library patron’s right to read, view, or listen to content protected by the First Amendment, no matter what the viewpoint of the author, creator, or selector. Librarians have an obligation to protect library collections from removal of content based on personal bias or prejudice.

Intellectual freedom, the essence of equitable library services, provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause, or movement may be explored. Librarians must not permit their personal beliefs to influence collection development decisions.

Adopted July 14, 1982, by the ALA Council; amended January 10,1990; July 2, 2008; and July 1, 2014

 

Appendix F. Expurgation of Library Materials: An Interpretation of the American Library Association Library Bill of Rights

(for full text see http:www.ala.org)

Expurgating library materials is a violation of the Library Bill of Rights. Expurgation as defined by this interpretation includes any deletion, excision, alteration, editing, or obliteration of any part(s) of books or other library resources by the library, its agent, or its parent institution (if any). By such expurgation, the library is in effect denying access to the complete work and the entire spectrum of ideas that the work is intended to express. Such action stands in violation of Articles I, II, and III of the Library Bill of Rights, which states that “Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation,” that “Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval”, and that “Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.”

The act of expurgation denies access to the complete work and the entire spectrum of ideas that the work is intended to express. This is censorship. Expurgation based on the premise that certain portions of a work may be harmful to minors is equally a violation of the Library Bill of Rights.

Expurgation without permission from the rights holder may violate the copyright provisions of the United States Code.

The decision of rights holders to alter or expurgate future versions of a work does not impose a duty on librarians to alter or expurgate earlier versions of a
work. Librarians should resist such requests in the interest of historical preservation and opposition to censorship. Furthermore, librarians oppose expurgation of resources available through licensed collections. Expurgation of any library resource imposes a restriction, without regard to the rights and
desires of all library users, by limiting access to ideas and information.

Adopted February 2, 1973, by the ALA Council; amended July 1, 1981; January 10, 1990; July 2, 2008; and July 1, 2014.

 

Appendix G. Library-Initiated Programs as a Resource: An Interpretation of the American Library Association Library Bill of Rights

(for full text see http:www.ala.org)

Library-initiated programs support the mission of the library by providing users with additional opportunities for accessing information, education, and
recreation. Article I of the Library Bill of Rights states, “Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves.”

Library-initiated programs utilize library staff expertise about community interests, collections, services, and facilities to provide access to information
and information resources. Library-initiated programs introduce users and potential users to library resources and the library’s role as a facilitator of information access. The library may participate in cooperative or joint programs with other agencies, organizations, institutions, or individuals to facilitate information access in the community the library serves.

Library-initiated programs include, but are not limited to, lectures, community forums, performing and visual arts 1 , participatory workshops, technology
programming, creative learning programming, wellness programs, storytimes, continuing education, fairs and conventions, book clubs, discussion groups, demonstrations, displays, and presentations for social, cultural, educational, or entertainment purposes. Library-initiated programs may take place on-site at the library, offsite in other locations, or online and may be delivered by library staff, library volunteers, or library partners.

Libraries should not discriminate against individuals with disabilities and shall ensure they have equal access to library resources. 2 Library-initiated programs should comply with all applicable laws, including the standards and requirements of ADA and state or local disability accessibility guidelines. If a program is held in a location not controlled by the library, the library should assure that the space is accessible to all library users. If users overflow designated event areas during library events, libraries should protect accessible public spaces (i.e., ramps, pathways, and emergency exit routes) to ensure access and safety for everyone. Reasonable accommodations should also be made to have interpretation or real-time captioning for the deaf or hard-of hearing at library-initiated programs when needed or requested by library users.

As stated in “Equity, Diversity, Inclusion: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights,” “Socially excluded, marginalized and underrepresented people, not
just the mainstream majority, should be able to see themselves reflected in the resources and programs that libraries offer.” 3  Libraries should actively seek to include a variety of programming options representing diversity of genres, formats, ideas, and expressions with a multitude of viewpoints and cultural perspectives that reflect the diversity in our communities. Library-initiated programs that cross language and cultural barriers introduce underserved populations to the library’s resources and provide access to information. Libraries serving multilingual or multicultural communities should make efforts to accommodate the information needs of those who speak and read languages other than English.

Libraries should have a policy guiding the development and implementation of programs, similar to material selection and building use policies, which has
been approved by their policy-making body after consultation with legal counsel. These guidelines should set forth the library’s commitment to free and open access to information and ideas for all users. Article II of the Library Bill of Rights states, “Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” Likewise, programs should not be canceled because of the ideas or topics of the program or the views expressed by the participants or speakers. 4  Library sponsorship of a program does not constitute an endorsement of the program content or the views expressed by the participants or speakers, any more than the purchase of material for the library collection constitutes an endorsement of the material content or its creator’s views. Libraries should vigorously defend the First Amendment right of speakers and participants to express themselves. Concerns, questions, or complaints about library-initiated programs are handled according to the same written policy and procedures that govern reconsiderations of other library resources.

Article V of the Library Bill of Rights states, “A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.” The “right to use a library” encompasses all the resources the library offers, including the right to attend library-initiated programs. Libraries create programs for an intended age group or audience based on educational suitability and audience interest; however, restrictions on participation based solely on the gender, chronological age or educational level of users violates this right and should be enforced only when it would adversely impact the safety of the participants. Parents and guardians may restrict their own children’s access to library programs, but no person or organization can interfere in others’ access and participation.

Libraries should not deny access to library-initiated programs if patrons owe the library for overdue fines or other fees, nor should program attendees be
required to share their personal information in order to attend a library program. Any collection of program participants’ personal information should be on an opt-in basis only. If libraries charge program participants for supplies used, they should make every effort to reduce economic barriers to participation.

 

  1. “Visual and Performing Arts in Libraries: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights,” adopted February 13, 2018, by ALA Council.
  2.  “Services to People with Disabilities: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights,” adopted January 28, 2009, by the ALA Council; amended June 26, 2018.
  3.  “Equity, Diversity, Inclusion: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights,” adopted June 27, 2017, by the ALA Council.
  4. “Responding to and Preparing for Controversial Programs and Speakers Q&A,” Intellectual Freedom Committee, June 2018.

Adopted January 27, 1982, by the ALA Council; amended June 26, 1990; July 12, 2000; June 26, 2018.