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Nebraska Library Board Manual

 CHAPTER CONTENTS What is Intellectual Freedom? Intellectual Freedom in the Library Citizen’s Request Form Example Additional Resources


   What is Intellectual Freedom?

Intellectual Freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It is a fundamental concept on which libraries are built. It must be addressed in policies in order to support the library’s position as a defender of the rights of its community members as contained in the First Amendment. Library trustees have a responsibility to preserve intellectual freedom rights in the local public library. This includes a citizen’s right to his/her own beliefs and expressions, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the right to access a wide spectrum of ideas and information.
First Amendment

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."


   How is Intellectual Freedom Addressed in a Library?

Library board members have an obligation to ensure that the library provides its users with a variety of materials representing a broad range of viewpoints, regardless of pressure brought by special interest groups. They must maintain an open, non-judgmental institution where individuals can pursue their interests and gain an understanding of diverse opinions. The test of a trustee’s commitment to support freedom of access comes when faced with group pressure, publicity, and community furor over material that is not in accord with the trustee’s personal beliefs.

To prevent attempts at censorship, trustees must have policies and procedures in place, plus an active commitment to the ideas expressed in the "The Library Bill of Rights", the "Freedom to Read" and "Freedom to View" statements created by the American Library Association. Policies on the selection of materials and development of the collection, plus a procedure for dealing with citizen complaints, will allow the library to be open to questions and concerns without accommodating censorship.

Here are some steps to take to prepare to defend Intellectual Freedom:
  • Establish a written materials selection / collection development policy.
  • Create a clearly-outlined method for handling complaints.
  • Provide training for trustees and staff.
  • Maintain active communication with civic, religious, educational and political groups in the community.
  • Participate in presentations explaining the library’s selection principles.
  • Be aware of legislation relating to intellectual freedom.
  • Develop relationships with the media, who are also defenders of the freedom to read.
Here is a sample "Citizen’s Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials" form. Additional Internet resources available from the American Library Association and Nebraska Library Commission are listed at the end of this page.

"Citizen’s Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials"

[This is where you identify who in your own structure, has authorized use of this form–Director, Library Board–and to whom to return the form. Example: The public library board of Bookville Public Library has delegated the responsibility for selection and evaluation of library resources to the library director 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 public library resources, please return the completed form to the Public Library Director, Bookville, NE.]

Date ___________
Your Name ____________________________________________________
Your Address __________________________________________________
City ____________________________________
State ___________________________________
Zip ___________
Phone _(_____)__________________
Do you represent yourself? An organization?
    1. Resource on which you are commenting:
    ____ Book ____ Textbook ____ Video ____ Display
    ____ Magazine ____ Library Program ____ Audio Recording
    ____ Newspaper ____ Electronic information/network (please specify)
    ____ Other ___________________________
    Title ___________________________
    Author/Producer ___________________________
    2. What brought this resource to your attention?

    3. Have you examined the entire resource?

    4. What concerns you about this 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?


   Additional Resources

Core Values of Librarianship
The Freedom to Read Statement
Library Bill of Rights
Freedom to View Statement
Intellectual Freedom Manual, 8th ed.
Challenges to Library Materials, Essential Preparation
Intellectual Freedom and Privacy
Nebraska Intellectual Freedom Handbook

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created 2006; rev. 7/2015                                                        For more information, contact Holli Duggan

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