Mission & Policies
Collection Development Policy
4.1 The Library's Mission in Relation to Collections
The mission statement adopted by the Library Board states:
The Downers Grove Public Library will provide collections, services, and programs that meet the community's desire for information, literature and entertainment.
The Library Board of Trustees charges staff with the responsibility for selecting library materials. Under the general supervision of the Library Director, staff in the public service departments select materials and maintain collections. Any library materials selected within the general guidelines or intent of this policy are held to be approved by the Library Board.
4.2 The Position of the Library Board of Trustees Concerning
Development and Use of Collections
Library materials, including books, audiovisual and computer media, are the record of humanity's history, knowledge, and ideas; they are one of the greatest instruments for freedom and knowledge. It is in the public interest that libraries make available the widest diversity of views and expressions. Freedom is not achieved if it is accorded only to accepted and inoffensive materials. The freedom to read is essential to our democracy.
The Board of Trustees of the library, recognizing the pluralistic nature of this community and the varied backgrounds and needs of all citizens declares as a matter of policy the following:
This board believes that censorship is a purely individual matter and declares that, while individuals are free to reject materials for themselves, they do not have the right to restrict another person's freedom to read.
It is the responsibility of parents to monitor and supervise their own children's choice of library materials. When requested, the staff will suggest materials for any patron. Staff suggestions, however, are not necessarily the ones parents would make. What one parent might readily approve for his or her child, another might not. Parents who are concerned about the content of library materials must assume individual responsibility to restrict or deny access to particular materials or subjects for their children only.
The Library Board of Trustees supports and adopts the following statements of the
fundamental principals of librarianship:
- The Library Bill of Rights
- The Freedom to Read Statement
- The Freedom to View Statement
These documents can be found in the Appendices IV – VI of the Collection Development Policy.
4.3 Request for Reconsideration of Materials
Any person who challenges the presence of material in this library must follow the Patron Grievance Policy as defined in Section 7.4.
4.4. General Considerations in Selection of Materials
General Philosophy and Criteria
The Downers Grove Public Library staff selects material to fulfill the goals of the Library's Strategic Plan related to collections:
Meet the community's desire for literature, popular titles, and information on current topics and issues of high interest with appropriate collections in a variety of formats, services, and programs.
Meet the community's need for information and answers to questions on a broad array of topics related to work, school, and personal life with appropriate collections in a variety of formats, services, and programs.
Develop a life-long love of reading, the arts, and library use through collections, services, and programs for children, teens, and adults that will stimulate their imaginations, meet their interests, and encourage them to read for pleasure.
One of the features unique to a public library is that the patron is able to find materials with diverse points of view and ideas which would not necessarily be found in the mass media. The public library is an institution whose nature reflects all parts of the society it serves. This means that the library staff must actively seek to know the interests of library patrons in order to meet their expectations that the library will provide materials for residents with varying interests, tastes, needs, and reading abilities.
The library embodies the democratic ideals of freedom to read and access to information. As such, it has the duty to provide access to a variety of opinions, both popular and unpopular. Inclusion of a title in the collection does not imply endorsement of the ideas presented in the material, nor does the absence of a title from the collection imply disapproval.
Materials for the children's collection are selected to meet the recreational and informational needs and interests of children, from infancy through eighth grade, and their care-givers. A wide range of materials is necessary to ensure meeting the breadth of children's interests, abilities, backgrounds and maturity levels. Children's materials may contain controversial elements such as frank language and discussions of sexual matters and value issues. Library materials that deal with experiences, problems, and attitudes suitable for one age group of children may not necessarily be suitable for another age group. The age level, interests, and experiences of each item’s intended audience is considered when selecting and placing books in the various children's collections.
The adult collections serve both the general user and the student. It is the library's intent to provide materials from a wide range of subject interests. The library staff selects materials of both popular interest and of lasting value.
4.4.2 Selection Criteria
Materials are selected for inclusion in the library in a variety of ways. Library staff considers reviews and prepublication announcements in professional journals, trade publications, and the popular press. In addition, library users make requests for the purchase of specific titles or material in particular subject areas.
To fulfill the general selection philosophy the library staff applies specific criteria to the selection of materials; however, no single criterion is absolute. The decision to purchase or not to purchase a title is based on the staff's judgment of the relevance of one or more of the following criteria to the title under consideration. This judgment is based on the library staff's knowledge of the community and the existing collection, as well as their practical experience filling library users' requests for material and information. The library does not purchase titles by local authors that are self-published or that are published by print-on-demand publishers, unless they also meet the library's other selection criteria.
Regardless of selection criteria, the library recognizes its obligation to abide by Illinois Criminal Statutes and so will not purchase or retain in the collection material found to be obscene or harmful to minors by an Illinois court of law.
The selection criteria staff uses include:
- Authenticity of information
- Authority of author
- Currency of material
- Curriculum support
- Diversity of subjects, ideas, and opinions
- Literary quality
- Local interest
- Physical features and format
- Price and availability
- Readability and style
These criteria are described below:
- Authenticity of Information
Works of factual interpretations are considered for their reliance on documentation and background sources, clear and logical presentation of the information and synthesis of opinion and fact. Facts are interpreted from many different perspectives, and interpretations of many viewpoints, from minority as well as majority perspectives, are selected for the collection.
- Authority of Author
Materials may be purchased based on an author's reputation as an expert or specialist in a particular subject area or genre or as an acknowledged representative of a particular point of view.
- Currency of Material
The age of the material is considered in certain subject areas in which information quickly becomes dated.
- Curriculum Support
The public library provides materials to supplement various courses of instruction from elementary through the high school grades. Staff works to develop strong collections in school-oriented subjects such as history, science, geography, and literature. Materials in high demand are often duplicated, but the public library does not assume the schools' responsibility to provide materials for each student for class assignments.
- Diversity of subjects, ideas, or opinions
The community is made up of individuals who hold a variety of viewpoints, opinions, and interests. Material is selected to represent the diversity of views on both contemporary and historical issues. Materials are also selected to represent the broad spectrum of human thought and creativity.
- Literary Quality
The library buys fiction and non-fiction titles of exceptional literary quality, those that are critically acclaimed in reviews or that win awards. Materials are also selected if reviews indicate they are expected to have lasting value or if they are the translation of works by noteworthy foreign authors.
- Local Interest
Materials about subjects related to the Midwest, Illinois, Chicago, or Downers Grove are usually purchased.
- Physical features and format
Materials may be considered or eliminated from purchase due to their format or physical features. Material that will not stand up to heavy use may not be selected.
Library staff selects materials based on popular demand for authors, titles, subjects, or formats. Demand for the material may be the result of patrons' personal interest or need for information.
- Price and availability
The cost of an item is evaluated in relation to its contribution to the collection as a whole. Publishing trends vary, and therefore the availability of a particular title or of material on a particular subject is not always assured. Titles are considered in light of current availability in the marketplace.
- Readability and Style
Some materials may be chosen because the format or style provides a clear explanation and enhances understanding of their subject.
In addition to the general criteria described above, selection criteria for specific sub-sections of the library's collections are detailed in an appendix to this policy. These criteria are formally reviewed along with the Collection Development Policy by the Library Board of Trustees and approved for use by library staff.
4.4.3 Response to Public Interest
Many library materials are selected in response to public demand. Each year, some titles generate great interest in the community and many requests for these titles are made at the library. The library buys such high-demand titles, even though some of the materials may have short-term value in the collection. The library tries to anticipate the demand for popular materials by monitoring standard indicators such as the New York Times Book Review "Best Sellers" list, Billboard music charts, announcements of literary and music awards, etc. Such material is generally acquired immediately, if it is not already in the collection, in order to meet the community's expectation that the library will provide current, popular materials.
Sometimes heavy demand is focused not on a specific title, but rather on a type of book, such as paperback romances or series fiction. The library purchases those items as the budget plan allows in order to meet demand.
The library strives to expedite patron reserves by purchasing multiple copies of materials in high demand. Rental copies may be purchased to offer readers an alternative to waiting in the reserve queue; however when reserve queues continue to increase, additional circulating copies of the book may be purchased as well.
Materials may also be purchased in response to a request by an individual. When a patron requests that the library purchase a particular title or material in a particular subject, staff uses the selection criteria to evaluate the material under consideration. If staff determines that the material requested would be of use or interest to other library patrons or that it fills gaps in the library’s subject collections, the material may be purchased.
4.5 Collection Maintenance
Library staff reviews the collection according to each department's collection development schedule. All material in the collection is evaluated for retention, repair, replacement, or withdrawal from the collection according to the same guidelines used for selection.
Selection Criteria for Specific Library Collections
Sub-sections of the collection are listed in alphabetical
In order to preserve the original integrity of the text as well as the author's intent, print abridgements are rarely considered for inclusion. Abridgements or reworking of a plot or character by the original author, or abridgements of classic works intended for children may be considered. The collection of audio books does include both complete and abridged versions.
Blind & Physically Handicapped Talking Book Service
Talking book service to patrons with disabilities is provided by the State Library through a system of regional offices. The library will provide referral to the appropriate location.
Computer Software Installed on Library Computers
The library purchases software for in-library use by patrons. These include word processing, database management, spreadsheet and presentation software for personal use, and educational and recreational software for children. In addition to the library's selection criteria, ease of use and the ability of staff to support the software are selection factors. The library does not install on library computers personal or business programs that require input and storage of personal information on the computers.
Computer Software for Home Use
The library purchases a variety of educational and recreational software programs for patrons to use at home. The circulating collection does not include applications, such as word-processing or spreadsheets that are intended for permanent installation on a computer.
Titles selected for children include education and entertainment software. Software is selected in the PC format; however, many programs include the program in Macintosh format, as well.
The adult collection emphasizes software for self-instruction and recreation and focuses on subjects such as learning languages, computer software instruction, test preparation, how-to, and games. While the PC format is most often purchased, software is also purchased in the Macintosh format in the most popular subject areas.
Foreign Language Materials
The library collects a variety of basic foreign language instructional materials for children and adults. Recreational reading materials for children are collected. The library will also provide access or referral to foreign language materials for adults and children in the collections of other libraries.
The library purchases a variety of general guides to help patrons learn how to trace their ancestry. Genealogies of specific families are considered only if the family is of local interest. Staff will provide referral to other libraries and agencies for specific genealogy questions that are beyond the scope of the collection.
The library provides links to Internet sites on the library's web site and library computers. Addresses to web sites may also be provided in library publications and program flyers. The library staff selects web sites that enhance the resources and materials found in the library and assist the library in meeting its mission of providing reference and popular materials for patrons. The sites are selected according to the library's selection criteria with particular emphasis placed on sites that are easily used and that answer frequently asked questions. Some may be selected because of current popular interest. The library recognizes that some web pages may contain links to other sites. Web pages are selected for the information they provide, without regard to the links they provide to other sites.
Books, audio, and video are selected for adults who are reading at or below a sixth grade level. Titles useful for tutors are also included.
Local Government Documents
The library maintains a collection of current documents provided by various Downers Grove and DuPage County governmental bodies, including departments of the Village of Downers Grove, the Downers Grove Park District, and the Downers Grove School Districts.
The library maintains a local history collection and attempts to acquire all sources available on Downers Grove and DuPage County history.
The Children's Services Department selects materials of particular interest to parents and other adults who work with children. The Parents' Shelf is a representative and current collection of materials dealing with child development, child management, childhood education, and children's literature. The purpose of the collection is to offer parents and other adults exposure to the literature of child study, which is covered in greater depth in the adult non-fiction collection.
The library subscribes to general periodicals covering a wide range of subject areas. The length of time that periodical titles are kept is based upon reference value and space considerations.
Simple puzzles that develop reading readiness skills in pre-schoolers are selected according to the following criteria:
- Durability and quality
- Number of pieces. (The maximum number of pieces for library puzzles is 25.)
- Physical dimensions
The library selects read-along kits, which consist of sound recordings and books for beginning readers. The unique criterion for selection is that the recordings follow the text word for word.
The library maintains collections of non-circulating materials on a wide range of subjects. Materials selected for the reference collection are those that are frequently used to answer patron's questions or that have unique reference value. The library also provides access to online reference sources. Online resources are selected according to the same criteria used to evaluate print materials.
The library purchases popular materials with particular appeal to patrons in grades 7 – 12. Because of the overlap of reading and interest levels served and because of reviewers' varying opinions of intended audience, titles in the adult or children's collections may be duplicated in the Teen Collection. The Bridge Collection contains titles from the adult collection that also appeal to teens.
Textbooks and Workbooks
While materials purchased for the general collection support the local educational system, the library does not generally purchase specific texts required for specific courses. However, textbooks and study guides may be included in the collection for their informational value. In spite of their consumable nature, workbooks may be purchased if they are the only format available on a topic. Some local school districts provide the library with a non-circulating collection of current textbooks.
Video Games for Home Use
The library purchases circulating video games for educational, instructional, and recreational needs for patron home use. The collection contains current games for the most popular console systems. The library does not circulate equipment hardware or accessories.
Games purchased for the adult/teen and children’s collections are selected from a variety of content ratings including, EC (Early Childhood, ages 3+), E (Everyone, ages 6+), E 10+ (Everyone 10 +, ages 10+), T (Teen, ages 13+) and M (Mature, ages 17+). Games with an AO (Adults Only) rating are not included in the library’s collection. Titles that are selected will be placed in the appropriate location in the adult/teen or children’s collections.
Criteria for Discarding and Replacing Materials
The Downers Grove Public Library cannot be a permanent
depository of all materials that have been acquired.
Just as care is taken in selecting materials to add to
the collection, so must attention be directed toward
withdrawing materials which have outlived their usefulness.
Factors that are considered in discarding materials include:
- Deteriorated appearance
- Inaccurate or dated information
- Lack of use
- Unneeded duplication of titles or subjects once
in heavy demand
Materials that are withdrawn from the collection may be
requested by other local tax-supported agencies that will
use them for the public good. Downers Grove public school
districts are given first priority and other public libraries
are given second priority for requesting materials. Materials
that are not requested by other tax-supported agencies
are offered for sale to the public on the library premises
at a nominal cost.
Consideration is given to the cost of repairing a book
versus replacement of the title with a new volume. Only
items of on-going value to the collection are replaced.
The library owes its beginning to public spirited citizens who gave generously of their time and means so that others might share the wealth in books. Although today the community at large provides the primary support through taxes, private philanthropy and initiative still play important roles in building library resources and in extending, enriching and improving the service of the library. Therefore, gifts, memorials, and bequests are not only welcome and appreciated but are encouraged by the Library Board of Trustees. Gifts that are unrestricted in their use are particularly sought by the library board because these gifts can be used to address the highest priorities of the library or to fund needed materials and equipment for which funds are not otherwise available. Gifts or bequests can be made directly to the library or to the Downers Grove Public Library Foundation, a 501c3 tax exempt organization. Questions about the Foundation should be directed to the Administrative Office.
Types of donations
A monetary gift may be given toward purchase of library materials. This is often done as a memorial, tribute, bequest, or in recognition of someone. The library is happy to accept suggestions from the donor or the family of the person being honored, in regards to subject areas to focus on for purchase. In making the final selection of materials, library staff will consider these suggestions as well as the needs of the library and make the selection in accordance with the library's selection policy. The title will remain in the collection for at least three years unless lost and no longer available for purchase.
Larger monetary gifts are also welcome. The library administration can provide ideas for special projects, programs, equipment, and collection needs which would benefit from private support. Other suggestions will be considered by the library board in relation to the library's mission and policies.
Donations of books and other materials, art objects, or other types of personal property may also be accepted following the guidelines listed below:
- Donated materials such as books, magazines, and audiovisual items become the sole property of the library and are accepted without obligation as to the final disposition. Material that staff considers damaged or unsuitable for circulation or sale may be declined. Donors are responsible for transporting materials to the library and large donations of materials must be arranged in advance.
- Personal property, art objects, portraits, antiques, and museum-quality objects are considered for acceptance on a case by case basis by the Library Board. If accepted, the library is not able to guarantee permanent display or ownership of an item.
- In determining whether materials or gift items are to be added to the library, the same standards are applied as are used in the selection of an item for purchase.
- The library will determine how best to process, handle, shelve or display an item in accordance with library standards and practices.
- Items that are not outright gifts to the library are accepted only for special exhibits of limited duration.
Acknowledgment and Recognition
All monetary gifts will be acknowledged with a letter of appreciation.
A monetary gift toward materials will be recognized with a donor book plate affixed to the item(s) purchased.
Funding of art work or a piece of equipment valued at $500.00 or more will be recognized with a donor plaque engraved with the donor's name. The engraved letter size will be one-eighth inch high, with the plaque size relative to the amount of engraving but not less than 1.5" x 3". The engraved plaque will be placed on or near the item as determined by the library board.
In the case of a monetary gift given in memorial, tribute, bequest, or in recognition of someone, a letter will be sent to the person or to the family of the person being honored.
Acknowledgment of receipt of donated items will be made with a letter of appreciation.
It is up to the donor to assign a monetary value to the gift for tax purposes.
If the donated item is personal property, a piece of equipment, art object, antique, etc. accepted by the library board, the board will consider the placement of a recognition plaque on or near the item following the guidelines stated above.
Library Bill of Rights
The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.
I. 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.
II. 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.
III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
VI. 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.
Adopted June 18, 1948, by the ALA Council; amended February 2, 1961; amended June 28, 1967; amended January 23, 1980; inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 24, 1996.
Freedom to Read Statement
The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label "controversial" views, to distribute lists of "objectionable" books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as individuals devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.
Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy: that the ordinary individual, by exercising critical judgment, will select the good and reject the bad. We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be "protected" against what others think may be bad for them. We believe they still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression.
These efforts at suppression are related to a larger pattern of pressures being brought against education, the press, art and images, films, broadcast media, and the Internet. The problem is not only one of actual censorship. The shadow of fear cast by these pressures leads, we suspect, to an even larger voluntary curtailment of expression by those who seek to avoid controversy or unwelcome scrutiny by government officials.
Such pressure toward conformity is perhaps natural to a time of accelerated change. And yet suppression is never more dangerous than in such a time of social tension. Freedom has given the United States the elasticity to endure strain. Freedom keeps open the path of novel and creative solutions, and enables change to come by choice. Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it the less able to deal with controversy and difference.
Now as always in our history, reading is among our greatest freedoms. The freedom to read and write is almost the only means for making generally available ideas or manners of expression that can initially command only a small audience. The written word is the natural medium for the new idea and the untried voice from which come the original contributions to social growth. It is essential to the extended discussion that serious thought requires, and to the accumulation of knowledge and ideas into organized collections.
We believe that free communication is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture. We believe that these pressures toward conformity present the danger of limiting the range and variety of inquiry and expression on which our democracy and our culture depend. We believe that every American community must jealously guard the freedom to publish and to circulate, in order to preserve its own freedom to read. We believe that publishers and librarians have a profound responsibility to give validity to that freedom to read by making it possible for the readers to choose freely from a variety of offerings.
The freedom to read is guaranteed by the Constitution. Those with faith in free people will stand firm on these constitutional guarantees of essential rights and will exercise the responsibilities that accompany these rights.
We therefore affirm these propositions:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We state these propositions neither lightly nor as easy generalizations. We here stake out a lofty claim for the value of the written word. We do so because we believe that it is possessed of enormous variety and usefulness, worthy of cherishing and keeping free. We realize that the application of these propositions may mean the dissemination of ideas and manners of expression that are repugnant to many persons. We do not state these propositions in the comfortable belief that what people read is unimportant. We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.
This statement was originally issued in May of 1953 by the Westchester Conference of the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council, which in 1970 consolidated with the American Educational Publishers Institute to become the Association of American Publishers.
Adopted June 25, 1953, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee; amended January 28, 1972; January 16, 1991; July 12, 2000; June 30, 2004.
A Joint Statement by:
American Library Association
Association of American Publishers
Subsequently endorsed by:
American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
The Association of American University Presses, Inc.
The Children's Book Council
Freedom to Read Foundation
National Association of College Stores
National Coalition Against Censorship
National Council of Teachers of English
The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression
Freedom to View Statement
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:
- 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 guarantee of freedom of expression.
- To protect the confidentiality of all individuals and institutions using film, video, and other audiovisual materials.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 January 10, 1990, by the ALA Council.