Guidance for Establishing Policies for School Library Materials
Intellectual Freedom and the Right to Read
Why do I need a policy?
Every library — academic, public, and school (public, private, charter, independent, and international) — should have a comprehensive written policy that guides the selection, deselection or weeding, and reconsideration of library resources. The most valuable selection policy is current; it is reviewed and revised on a regular basis; and it is familiar to all members of a library’s staff. The policy should be approved by the library’s governing board or other policy-making body and disseminated widely for understanding by all stakeholders.
How to respond to formal challenges and concerns
How to respond to informal complaints and concerns
Informal complaints can occur at any time, and every library should have a process for handling verbal concerns. Library workers and educators who receive expressions of concern should courteously refer them to the person responsible for responding to concerns, who should take the following steps:
Challenge support and reporting challenges
Reporting censorship to ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) raises awareness of the harms of censorship. OIF tracks attempts to remove or restrict books across the country. By reporting censorship incidents, librarians help identify trends in censorship cases and document responses and solutions to censorship. Since 1990, OIF has maintained a database on challenged materials. ALA collects information from two sources: media reports and reports submitted by individuals.
Libraries are a forum for information and ideas equitably and without restricted access. OIF’s first priority is to make sure that all librarians, educators, and users know this. Our second priority is to fight any attempts to limit or remove access. Reporting censorship helps OIF provide better information and support to librarians and teachers facing intellectual freedom and access challenges.
Anyone may call ALA with questions or to report a challenge to library or classroom resources via the online challenge reporting form. A person does not have to be a member of ALA or a librarian. As a professional association designed to support librarians, we follow the lead of the people with whom we are working. In some situations, publicly aligning with outside advocates may not be the best course of action for a librarian in a tenuous environment. We will never reveal who contacts our office or why without the individual’s permission.