Nebraska Intellectual Freedom
Intellectual Freedom Committee
Nebraska Library Association
Nebraska Library Commission
Revised Summer 2004
Order of Topics
Records Which May Be Withheld
Developing a Mission Statement
Developing a Materials Selection Policy
Dealing With a Reconsideration Request
Request for Reconsideration
Handling a Complaint
Library Bill of Rights
Freedom to Read
Freedom to View
Access to Electronic Information
As librarians, we are all concerned with the concept of
intellectual freedom. It is our professional obligation to provide varied forms
of information that meet the varied interests and needs of our community
members. It is also our professional obligation to oppose the efforts of those
who would attempt to monitor, challenge, change, or remove the materials of
choice in our society.
provides access to relative resources for all librarians who may face a
censorship challenge. Included are interpretations from the Library Bill of
Rights, policies and procedures, examples of useful forms, and a list of
library related organizations that may be contacted for further information.
Checklist for Managing Censorship
Consider the following points when deciding
how well prepared you are to handle a challenge of intellectual
freedom in you library
________Are you familiar with Nebraska state
laws, the Library Bill of Rights and other documents
regarding intellectual freedom
________Do you have a written collection development policy? Has it been formally adopted by your governing authority? Is it revised and updated periodically?
________Do you have written procedures for handling complaints and for reporting incidents?
________Are all personnel in your library aware of the contents of your materials selection policy and
of your procedure for handling complaints and reporting incidents?
________Are you openly communicating with community groups and their leaders in the area served by your library?
________Do you have a vigorous public relations program?
________Are you aware of groups in your community who are advocates of intellectual freedom and who might
have resources they would use in your support?
________Are you aware of state and national organizations, such as Nebraska Library Association (NLA) and American Library Association (ALA), which are advocates of intellectual freedom?
________Do you know who to call in case of a challenge?
Records Which May Be Withheld From The Public
Certain information can legally be withheld from the
public. Withholding this information cannot be considered censorship but is a
means of protecting confidentiality and security. The Revised Statutes of
Nebraska 1943 (84-712.05) enumerates the kinds of information that may be
following records, unless publicly disclosed in an open court, open
administrative proceeding, or open meeting or disclosed by a public entity
pursuant to its
may be withheld from the public by the lawful custodian of the records:
(1) Personal information in records regarding a student, prospective
student, or former student of any educational institution or exempt
school that has effectuated an election not to meet state approval or
to section 79-1601 when such records are maintained by and in the
possession of a public entity, other than routine directory information
specified and made public consistent with 20 U.S.C. 1232g, as such section
existed on January 1, 2003;
(2) Medical records, other than records of births and deaths and except as
provided in subdivision (5) of this section, in any form concerning any person,
and also records of elections filed under section 44-2821;
(3) Trade secrets, academic and scientific research work which is in
progress and unpublished, and other proprietary or commercial information
which if released would give advantage to business competitors and serve no
(4) Records which represent the work product of an attorney and the
public body involved which are related to preparation for litigation, labor
negotiations, or claims made by or against the public body or which
are confidential communications as defined in section 27-503;
(5) Records developed or received by law enforcement agencies and other
public bodies charged with duties of investigation or examination
of persons, institutions, or businesses, when the records constitute
a part of the examination, investigation, intelligence information,
citizen complaints or inquiries, informant identification, or strategic or
tactical information used in law enforcement training, except that this
subdivision shall not apply to records so developed or received relating to
the presence of and amount or concentration of alcohol or drugs in any body
fluid of any person;
(6) Appraisals or appraisal information and negotiation records concerning the
purchase or sale, by a public body, of any interest in real or personal
property, prior to completion of the purchase or sale;
(7) Personal information in records regarding personnel of public bodies
other than salaries and routine directory information;
(8) Information solely pertaining to protection of the security of public
property and persons on or within public property, such as specific,
unique vulnerability assessments or specific, unique response plans, either of
which is intended to
or mitigate criminal acts the public disclosure of which would create a
substantial likelihood of endangering public safety or property; computer
or communications network schema, passwords, and user identification names;
guard schedules; or lock combinations;
(9) The security standards, procedures, policies, plans, specifications,
diagrams, access lists, and other security-related records of the
Lottery Division of the Department of Revenue and those persons or entities
with which the division has entered into contractual relationships. Nothing in
this subdivision shall allow the division to withhold from the public any
information relating to amounts paid persons or entities with which the
division has entered into contractual relationships, amounts of prizes
paid, the name of the prize winner, and the city, village, or county where the
prize winner resides;
(10) With respect to public utilities and except as provided in sections
43-512.06 and 70-101, personally identified private citizen account payment
information, credit information on others supplied in confidence, and customer
(11) Records or portions of records kept by a publicly
funded library which, when examined with or without other records,
reveal the identity of any library patron using the library's materials
(12) Correspondence, memoranda, and records of
telephone calls related to the performance of duties by a member of the
Legislature in whatever form. The lawful custodian of the correspondence,
memoranda, and records of telephone calls, upon approval of the Executive
Board of the Legislative Council, shall release the correspondence,
memoranda, and records of telephone calls which are not designated as
sensitive or confidential in nature to any person performing an audit of the
Legislature. A member's correspondence, memoranda, and records of
confidential telephone calls related to the performance of his or
her legislative duties shall only be released to any other person with
the explicit approval of the member;
(13) Records or portions of records kept by public bodies which would
reveal the location, character, or ownership of any known archaeological,
historical, or paleontological site in Nebraska when necessary to protect the
site from a reasonably held fear of theft, vandalism, or trespass. This
section shall not apply to the release of information for the purpose of
scholarly research, examination by other public bodies for the protection of
the resource or by recognized tribes, the Unmarked Human Burial Sites and
Skeletal Remains Protection Act, or the federal Native American Graves
Protection and Repatriation Act;
(14) Records or portions of records kept by public bodies which maintain
collections of archaeological, historical, or paleontological significance
which reveal the names and addresses of donors of such articles of
archaeological, historical, or paleontological significance unless the
donor approves disclosure, except as the records or portions thereof may be
needed to carry out the purposes of the Unmarked Human Burial Sites and
Skeletal Remains Protection Act or the federal Native American Graves
Protection and Repatriation Act;
(15) Job application materials submitted by applicants, other than finalists,
who have applied for employment by any public body as defined in section
84-1409. For purposes of this subdivision, job application materials
means employment applications, resumes, reference letters, and school
transcripts, and finalist means any applicant who is offered and who accepts
an interview by a public body or its agents, representatives, or consultants
for any public employment position; and
(16) Social security numbers; credit card, charge card, or debit card numbers
and expiration dates; and financial account numbers supplied to state and local
governments by citizens.
1979, LB 86, § 5; Laws 1983, LB 108, § 1; Laws 1983, LB 565, § 1;
1993, LB 579, § 6; Laws 1993, LB 590, § 6; Laws 1993, LB 719, § 2;
1994, LB 1061, § 7; Laws 1994, LB 1224, §; 88;
1995, LB 343, § 7; Laws 1995, LB 509, § 6; Laws 1999, LB 137, § 1;
2002, LB 276, § 7; Laws 2004, LB 236, § 1;
2004, LB 868, § 3.
date July 16, 2004.
Developing a Mission Statement
In order to develop a sound and useful Materials Selection
Policy, a library must consider its mission statement. The library's overall
mission should guide library resource selection. A written, formal mission
statement is a brief declaration of the overall purpose of the organization. It
should be clear, concise, and memorable. In a single sentence or two, this
statement summarizes the values of an organization and provides direction for
every service, program, event, or activity in which the library engages. Goals
and objectives, whether short-term or long-term, are drawn from the mission
statement; it justifies all that a library does or plans to do.
A mission statement:
- Is a broad, philosophical declaration of a library's
- Should provide the framework for a library's goals and
- Should be written with input from library staff, Library
Board members, library users, community members
- Should promote and defend principles of intellectual
- Should be brief and memorable
- Should define services for all users
- Should be reviewed regularly to ensure its continuing
Once written and adopted, the mission statement must be
communicated to all staff members. Everyone
- Library Director,
Librarians, Clerks, Volunteers, Part-time staff, Delivery drivers - should know
the mission statement and support it in their responsibilities as library
staff. In addition, all staff should also be trained in the basic principles of
intellectual freedom. The mission statement should also be regularly
communicated in library brochures, calendars, pamphlets, and marketing pieces.
Numerous well-written examples of library mission
statements are available on the Internet for review.
Developing A Materials Selection Policy
A written, formal materials selection policy is an
essential document for all libraries. It should be drawn from the library's
mission statement, and it should be adopted officially by the governing board of
the library and communicated to the library staff and the library community.
Once adopted, the policy should be reviewed periodically and revised as
A materials selection policy (or collection development
policy) defines the scope, range, and focus of a library's collections and
clearly sets out principles and expectations for collection evaluation and
maintenance, procedures for materials selection, and methodology for handling
both suggestions and complaints. It should be a published document that is
available for distribution to library staff as well as to interested library
Essential elements include:
- Inclusion of the library's Mission Statement, which
defines a library's purpose
- A clear summary of the dimensions and limits of
- For example: does your collection include popular
materials? Adult, young adult, children's materials? All formats?
- A list of a library's special collections
- For example: genealogy, local history, government
- A clearly defined philosophy used in the selection and
evaluation of materials
- A list of criteria used for selection and evaluation of
- For example: use of review journals, best-seller
lists, customer requests; criteria such as accuracy, literary merit, reading
level, author reputation, award winners, etc.
- A clearly defined procedure for dealing with suggestions
for purchase from library users
- For example: a written or on-line form through which
a request could be submitted
- A clearly defined procedure for dealing with complaints
about specific titles
- For example: a written re-evaluation form for
- A policy for accepting and disposing of gift materials
- For example: a clear statement defining use of
donated materials and disposal of unwanted gift items
- Clear principles for collection evaluation and
- For example: regular schedules for weeding and
replacement of worn or out-of-date materials
- A plan for periodic review and revision
- For example: updates that recognize changing
community needs and additions of new formats of library materials, such as
DVDs, e-books, etc.
A thoroughly written Materials Selection Policy could also
include an appendix that contains the following documents that support the
mission of collection development and the principles of intellectual freedom:
Library Bill of Rights (American Library Association, adopted
and amended 1948, 1961, 1967, 1980).
Intellectual Freedom State: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
(American Library Association, Freedom to Read Foundation, adopted
Statement of Labeling: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
(American Library Association, adopted 1951, amended 1971, 1981).
- Your Library's materials
Numerous examples of
well-written Materials Selection policies are available on the Internet for
Dealing With a Reconsideration Requests
- What is the general content of this material?
- How is the content presented in terms of scope, range, depth and continuity?
- What new information, dimension or direction
does this material provide?
- How well documented are the information
- How up-to-date is the material?
- What is the overall purpose of the material?
- How is the purpose accomplished?
- How well do the illustrations apply to
the subject and age level?
- What selection aides have reviewed this
material? Attach reviews if possible.
- What is the reputation and significance
of the author and/or producer?
- How well are the goals and objectives of the library materials selection policy reflected in this material?
the responsibility for selection and evaluation
resources to ____________________
___________________and has established reconsideration
procedures to address concerns about those resources. Completion of this form is the first step in those procedures. If you wish to request reconsideration of library resources, please return the completed form to _________________________________________________.
City_____________________ State_______ Zip
Do you represent yourself? _________
1. Resource on which you are commenting:
____Book ____Textbook ____Video ____Display
____Magazine ____Library Program ____Audio
____Newspaper ____Electronic Information/Website
2. What brought this resource to your attention?___________________________
3. Have you examined the entire resource?________________________________
4. What concerns you about the resource?
(Use other side or additional pages if necessary.)
5. Are there resource(s) you suggest to
provide additional information and/or
other viewpoints on this topic?________________________________________
Revised by the American Library Association
Intellectual Freedom Committee
June 27, 1995
Handling the Complaint/Challenge
Listed below are steps for handling a complaint
about materials in the library or other challenges to intellectual
- Stay calm, cool and collected. Be reasonable
and rational at all times. Do not demean the individual who
is making the complaint. DO NOT ARGUE.
- Provide the individual with the appropriate
policy on materials, exhibit or meeting rooms.
- If the individual is not satisfied, provide
a "Request for Reconsideration of Materials" form.
Ask the individual to fill it out completely and explain the
rest of your library's procedure for handling a complaint.
- Inform the administration of the full facts
regarding the incident.
- Contact the American Library Association
- Contact local media and civic organizations when appropriate, i.e. when the situation escalates beyond the scope of the library.
Adopted June 18, 1948
Amended February 2, 1961, June 27, 1967 and January 23, 1980,
by the ALA Council
Affirmed as NEBRASKA LIBRARY BILL OR RIGHTS April 3, 1981 by unanimous adoption
of the Nebraska Library Commission.
American Library Association
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.
25, 1953; revised January 28, 1972, January 16, 1991, July 12, 2000, by the ALA
Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee.
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
the ALA Council, January 24, 1996.
the American Library Association's Resolution on the USA Patriot Act
and Related Measures That Infringe on the Rights of Library Users
Adopted by the ALA Council, January 29, 2003
Other U.S.A. Patriot Act Resources
You are encouraged to contact any of the following if
you are confronted with a challenge:
American Library Association
Office of Intellectual Freedom
50 East Huron Street
Chicago, Illinois 60611
Southeast Library System
5730 R Street Suite C1
Lincoln, NE 68505
PH: 402-467-6188 or
Eastern Library System
11929 Elm Street, Suite 12
Omaha, NE 68144
Meridian Library System
3519 Second Ave, Suite B
Kearney, NE 68847
Northeast Library System
3038 33rd Ave, Suite 13
Columbus, NE 68601
Panhandle Library System
1517 Broadway, Suite 129
Scottsbluff, NE 69361
Republican Valley Library System
2727 West 2nd Street, Suite 233
Hastings, NE 68901
Nebraska Library Commission
1200 N Street, Suite 120
Lincoln, NE 68508
The Nebraska Library Association Home Page
Contact information for other state Intellectual Freedom
Committees can be located on the American Library Association's web site at:
State IFC Roster