A Fresh Look at the Library Bill of Rights - Part IV
Article Two - Bill of Rights
Taken from the Fall 1996 NCompass
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."
Article II of the Library Bill of Rights as adopted June 18,
1948 and amended February 2, 1961, June 27, 1967, and January 23, 1980
by the American Library Association Council and affirmed as
Nebraska Library Bill of Rights April 3, 1981 by unanimous adoption
of Nebraska Library Commission.
In this latest installment of the NCompass
series examining applications
of intellectual freedom and the Library Bill of Rights
, we explore
how librarians exert community leadership by ensuring that the material
in their libraries truly represents diverse points of view (as stated in
Article II). Sometimes this means resisting community members, even staff
members, who feel that materials they are individually uncomfortable with,
should not be available on the shelves of "their" library. Sometimes it
means actively seeking materials that we are not comfortable with. It is
important that librarians provide a community role model, demonstrating
that materials considered undesirable by some (sexy, dangerous, inflammatory,
obscene) may be interpreted differently by others.
Librarians are in a unique position to inspire others to grow beyond
the parochial concerns and cultures of our communities. We can help our
customers to expand their minds and question cultural assumptions. We can
build resource collections that celebrate diversity and we can stand firm
in the face of intolerance. Librarians need to guard against exercising
de facto censorship (purchasing only materials that we know will be offensive
to no one or that we personally do not find offensive). Sometimes a beleaguered
librarian might be tempted to promote the library and all it contains as
"safe and wholesome," but it might be better to promote the message seen
recently on this library sign, We guarantee that there is something in
this library to offend everyone.
In the Summer 1996 edition of NLAQ, the Nebraska Library Association
Intellectual Freedom Committee offered the following Web sites to assist
librarians in their role as Intellectual Freedom Fighter:
Intellectual Freedom Committee Web Links:
infreedom.html, Intellectual freedom issues with links to the Telecommunications
Act of 1996.
American Civil Liberties Union Freedom Network." The site with both the
Communications Decency Act and the brief filed by the ACLU.
.edu/web/people/spok/banned-books.html, "Banned Books On-line." A selection
of books that have been the objects of censorship attempts.
people/spok/most-banned.html, A list of the most frequently banned
books in the 1990s.
/Censorship_and_the_Net/, The "Yahoo" connection to a variety of links
dealing with censorship on the Internet.