Collection Development Policy

Munising School Public Library



Date of approval by Board of Education, Munising Public Schools: September 20, 2022

Revised:  MSPL Library Advisory Board:  May 17, 2022

Revised: November 2005

September 29, 1997



Purpose and Goal of the Collection Development Policy
Because of the large volume of publishing as well as limitations of the library’s budget and space, the library needs a Collection Development Policy to provide a framework for the growth and development of its collection in support of its mission. The policy guides library staff members in the selection and withdrawal of materials and informs the public about the principles upon which selections are made. The goal of the policy is to provide a useful, well-balanced, broad and diverse collection of materials that reflects a wide range of views, expressions, opinions and interests and meets the needs of the community.  


Munising School Public Library (MSPL) is dedicated to providing the people of Alger County and the Munising Public School District with open access to ideas and information that are fundamental to our democracy.  MSPL protects intellectual freedom, promotes literacy, encourages lifelong learning, and provides library materials, information services, and a place of enrichment. Library materials are a shared, community resource and should be available to patrons in a fair and timely manner.  MSPL services are based on the principle that library patrons assume certain responsibilities to cooperate in sharing these community resources. 


MSPL is a community service institution that collects and organizes information in a variety of formats that is easily accessible to all.  In keeping with the mission of MSPL, the collection responds to the diverse needs and interests, both immediate and future, of the community that it serves. In addition to providing the best service possible to its regular users, the Library collects materials and searches for methods of service that will meet the needs of community members who are not traditional library users. The Library provides service to all, regardless of race, creed, ethnicity, color, gender, ability, sexual orientation, age, occupation, religion or financial position.

Munising School Public Library Mission Statement

The Munising School Public Library (MSPL) enriches the lives of people by empowering their personal, educational and professional growth; advancing literacy and lifelong learning, and by building strong community and cultural connections.




  • “Community” refers to the students, faculty and administration of Munising Public Schools, the residents of the Munising Public Schools District and all of the residents of Alger County.
  • “Selection” refers to the decisions made to either add materials to the collection or to retain materials already in the collection.
  • “Withdrawal” refers to permanently removing an item from the collection.
  • “Library Materials” means books, library programs, magazines, DVDs, CDs, objects, digital items or other synonyms as they may occur in the policy having the widest possible meaning.  This statement of policy applies to all library materials in the collection.  However, this policy and the term “library materials” does not apply to Internet sites available through the library’s computers or Internet connection.  The library has no control over the content of the Internet.  Please see the Computer Use Policy for any issues related to computer or internet use.

Responsibility for Selection
The ultimate responsibility for material selection rests with the Library Director who operates within the framework of policies established by the Board of Trustees. The Library Director uses professional judgment and expertise to make selection and withdrawal decisions based on the policy. The Library Director allocates the materials budget annually.  Selection librarians will not be disciplined or dismissed for the selection of library materials when the selection is made in good faith and in accordance with the written policy and accepted procedures.

General Principles of Selection Process
The Library strives to develop a collection of standard works of permanent value and popular materials of current significance. The interests and needs of the community; the individual merit of each item; and the Library’s existing collection, budget and services are the major factors in selecting materials. Basic to this policy are the guidelines established by the American Library Association in its Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read Statement, and Freedom to View Statement (appended).
MSPL considers all types and formats of media to be in the realm of human expression and part of the human record. Because the Library functions in a rapidly changing society, it is flexible about changes in materials, both in format and style of expression.


Criteria for Selection and Withdrawal

Selection of library materials involves the following factors and considerations:

  1. The experience and knowledge of the selectors,
  2. Their knowledge of the community’s interests and needs,
  3. The Library’s existing collection,
  4. The Library’s materials budget and space limitations,
  5. The holdings and availability of other area library resources.



General criteria for selecting library materials are listed below. An item need not meet all of the criteria in order to be selected.

  1. Interests, demands and needs of the school and community;
  2. Accuracy and authoritativeness of content;
  3. Literary or stylistic quality, artistic merit;
  4. Timeliness of material; reissues of recordings are considered to be current publications;
  5. Local and regional importance and/or historical value;
  6. Physical condition and quality, durability and suitability of format for shelving, storing and circulation and to the content of the item;
  7.  Reputation and competence of the author, creator or publisher;
  8. Attention of reviewers, critics and the public, especially in professional journals and other reputable resources;
  9. Relevance to existing collection;
  10.  Contemporary significance, popular interest, uniqueness or permanent value;
  11. Representation of diverse points of view;
  12.  Availability elsewhere through interlibrary loan;
  13. Accessibility for multiple users of electronic formats.


Selection Criteria for Special Works
A. Local Works
Material by local authors or self-published/subsidy published materials will be given consideration if the work meets the general selection criteria.

  1. Textbooks
    Providing textbooks and curriculum material is generally held to be the responsibility of the schools. Materials will not be purchased for the sole purpose of supporting a curriculum. Textbooks will be considered when they supply the best or only information on a specific topic.
  2. Requests
    All requests and suggestions from patrons for specific titles or subject areas will be considered using the selection criteria described in this policy. Patrons can request that specific items be purchased by filling out a request card or through a phone call or email request to library staff. An item with unfavorable reviews may be purchased whenever there is enough demand or interest unless it lacks literary merit or social value or the suggested subject is already covered by other material in the collection.


  1. Preservation
    The library preserves materials that cannot be replaced or obtained through resource sharing and that continue to have long-standing or permanent significance to the collection.
  2. Local History Collection
    The library maintains a collection of local and state materials containing current and historical information about the City of Munising and the surrounding townships, Alger County, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Michigan. Included in this collection are items about Munising and Alger County or written by Alger County authors, newspapers, and vertical files containing information, articles, photos and clippings, physical or digital, on local and state happenings. Materials are placed in the local history collection because they are unique, costly to replace or irreplaceable.


The library welcomes gifts and donations of books and other memorabilia which relate in a meaningful way directly to the history of Munising, Alger County and the surrounding area. Acceptance of such material is subject to the approval of library staff. Consideration will be given to the appropriateness of the material and the ability of the library to store and house such material in a safe and efficient manner. The library works in cooperation with the Alger County Historical Society regarding local and history materials. The library reserves the right to withdraw local history collection materials as necessary.

  1. Library Co-Sponsored Program Development
    The library supports its mission of connecting people to ideas, information, experiences and materials that provide enjoyment, enrich peoples’ lives, and strengthen our community by developing and presenting programs that provide additional opportunities for information, learning, and entertainment. Programming provides an integral component of library service by doing the following:
  1. Expanding the library’s role as a community resource,
  2. Introducing library users and non-users to Library services,
  3. Providing entertainment,
  4. Providing opportunities for learning,
  5. Expanding the visibility of the library.


Ultimate responsibility for programming at the library rests with the Director, who administers with the aid of staff, under the authority of the Board of Trustees. Library staff plans and develops programs for the community based on relevance to community interests and issues, popular appeal, and suitability for general or targeted audiences and the Criteria of Selection and Withdrawal standards set forth in this policy The library may co-sponsor programs with other agencies, organizations, and institutions. These individual or organizational partners must coordinate marketing efforts with the library. The library does not discriminate in its programs. Library sponsorship of a program does not constitute endorsement of the content or the views expressed by the presenter to the participants. Program topics, speakers, and resources are not excluded from programs because of possible controversy.


Materials for Specific Audiences:

  1. Materials for Youth
    The MSPL serves youth from birth through age 18, parents and grandparents, guardians, caregivers, teachers, homeschoolers, university students, and other adults interested in children’s literature and youth education. MSPL applies the same policies and criteria to the selection of materials for youth as those selected for adults with the addition of vocabulary suitable to the age of the intended audience and quality of the illustrations. The library’s goal in selecting materials in a variety of formats for youth is to make available a collection which satisfies patrons’ informational and recreational needs. Materials are selected to meet the general needs of the majority of youth. Materials whose qualities make them valuable to youth with special needs, talents, problems or interests are also considered. The library supports the Free Access to Libraries for Minors and Restricted Access to Library Materials statements of the American Library Association (appended). Parents and legal guardians have the responsibility to monitor items their minor children select from the Library collection. Materials will not be excluded from the collection because they may be used by a minor.
  2. Materials and Equipment for People with Visual Disabilities
    Materials and equipment for people with visual impairments, such as large-print books and audio books are acquired according to patron demand. The library also encourages patrons with special needs to use the resources of the Great Lakes Talking Book Center at Superiorland Library Cooperative. There is also access to digital audiobooks and eBooks on the Libby app.


Audio Music and Film Collection

The MSPL’s audio music and film collection includes music from a broad range of styles and eras in varying degrees of depth and a wide variety of films including popular features, educational, independent, foreign and popular television series. Generally, this is a popular browsing collection for all ages. Rating guides and warning labels are not assigned by the library.

Interlibrary Loan
Because of limited space and budget, the library is not able to purchase and house all materials that are requested. Therefore, interlibrary loan is used to obtain from other libraries those materials that are beyond the scope of MSPL’s collection. In return for this service, MSPL agrees to lend materials to other libraries through the same interlibrary loan networks.
MSPL is a member of the Upper Peninsula Region of Library Cooperation (UPRLC) and Michigan eLibrary Catalog (MeLCat). UPRLC consists of many libraries in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan. MeLCat consists of many libraries throughout the State of Michigan. These libraries have access to common online catalogs for the purpose of sharing materials. The library encourages the use of interlibrary loan whereby patrons may place requests on items owned by other libraries, and those items will be delivered to the library as they become available. The library participates in OCLC WorldCat through the Superiorland Library Cooperative, to provide access to materials owned by libraries outside the State of Michigan.





Weeding is necessary to maintain a vital, useful and up-to-date collection. Selection of materials for weeding is based on the following criteria:

  1. Materials worn out through use,
  2. Ephemeral materials which are no longer timely,
  3. Materials no longer considered accurate or factual,
  4. Materials which have had little or no recent use,
  5. Excess copies no longer in demand.


Material that is withdrawn may be replaced using the selection criteria. Disposal of materials weeded from the collection is accomplished according to the following priorities:

  1. Withdrawn materials may be made available to other libraries or institutions, as deemed appropriate by the director;
  2. Materials not made available to other libraries and institutions are saved for the “by donation only” book sale, where they are offered on a first-come, first-served basis at no cost to all who wish to have them.  Donations are accepted but nothing is required to be paid by those who take books;
  3. Materials unsuitable for other institutions or the ‘by donation only” book sale are recycled or discarded;
  4. The library cannot accept requests to hold weeded materials for individuals.


Gifts of Materials

The library appreciates the donation of money, materials and artwork for the development of the library collection. The library will accept gifts and donations of books, films, audio items, pamphlets, artwork, periodicals, historic photographs, items of local import, or other materials in good condition with the understanding that such gifts become the exclusive property of the library. The library will not accept donations that are not outright gifts. The library reserves the right to accept or reject any gift or donation if the gift or donation is not in the library’s best interest.

Gifts and donations will be added to the collection provided they meet the same selection criteria applied to purchased materials. The library cannot guarantee that a gift or donation will become part of the library collection or, if it does become part of the collection, that it will be a permanent part. Unsolicited gifts and donations may be sold or discarded at the library staff’s discretion. The library will not assign a value to gifts or donated materials. The library will, upon request of the donor, provide a receipt for gifts or donations but cannot evaluate or appraise any gift or donation. Material donations may be given gift plates.

Reconsideration of Library Materials

The library recognizes that some materials are controversial and that any given item may offend some patrons. Selection of materials will not be made on the basis of anticipated approval or disapproval but solely on the basis of the selection criteria set forth in this policy. Library materials will not be marked or identified to show approval or disapproval of their contents, and no library materials will be sequestered except to protect them from damage or theft. Patrons requesting reconsideration of a library item may complete and sign a Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials Form. When the form is completed, it will be given to the Library Director for forwarding to the Superintendent. The item will be reviewed in accordance with the library’s overall objectives, its Collection Development Policy, the Library Bill of Rights, and the American Library Association Guidelines on Intellectual Freedom.


Per School Policy, if the request, suggestion, complaint, or grievance relates to instructional materials such as textbooks, library books, reference works, and other instructional aids used in the District, the following procedure shall be followed:


  1. The criticism is to be addressed to the principal, in writing, and shall include:
    1. author;
    2. title;
    3. publisher;
    4. the complainant’s familiarity with the material objected to;
    5. sections objected to by page and item;
    6. reasons for objection.


  1. Upon receipt of the information, the principal may, after advising the Superintendent of the complaint, and upon the Superintendent approval, appoint a review committee which may consist of:
    1. one (1) or more professional staff members;
    2. one (1) or more lay persons knowledgeable in the area.


  1. The Superintendent shall be an ex-officio member of the committee.


  1. The committee, in evaluating the questioned material, shall be guided by the following criteria:
    1. the appropriateness of the material for the age and maturity level of the students with whom it is being used;
    2. the use being made of the material.


  1. The material in question may be withdrawn from use pending the committee’s recommendation to the Superintendent.


  1. The committee’s recommendation shall be reported to the Superintendent in writing within ten (10) business days following the formation of the committee. The Superintendent will advise the complainant, in writing, of the committee’s recommendation and advise the Board of the action taken or recommended.


  1. The complainant may appeal this decision, within thirty (30) business days, to the Board through a written request to the Superintendent, who shall forward the request and all written material relating to the matter to the Board.


  1. The Board shall review the case and advise the complainant, in writing, of its decision within ten (10) business days.


No challenged material may be removed from the curriculum or from a collection of resource materials except by action of the Board, and no challenged material may be removed solely because it presents ideas that may be unpopular or offensive to some. Any Board action to remove material will be accompanied by the Board’s statement of its reasons for the removal.


20 U.S.C. 1232h


The Board of Trustees serves as the final authority in cases involving retention or withdrawal of library materials.  The Library Director will inform the Board of Trustees of all requests for reconsideration.  The inclusion of any material in the library collection does not imply endorsement of the viewpoints of the author or creator expressed therein.

Please see

Munising Public Schools

Book Policy Manual Section

9000 Relations



Code po9130

Status Active

Adopted January 1, 2001

Last Revised November 14, 2002


  • Library Bill of Rights
  • Freedom to Read Statement
  • Freedom to View Statement
  • Access to Library Resources and Services for Minors: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
  • Restricted Access to Library Materials: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
  • Access for Children and Young Adults to Non-Print Materials: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
  • MSPL Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials Form


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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.


  1. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.


  1. 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.


VII. All people, regardless of origin, age, background, or views, possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use. Libraries should advocate for, educate about, and protect people’s privacy, safeguarding all library use data, including personally identifiable information.


Adopted June 19, 1939, by the ALA Council; amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; February 2, 1961; June 27, 1967; January 23, 1980; January 29, 2019. Inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996.



The 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:


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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:


  1. 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.
  2. To protect the confidentiality of all individuals and institutions using film, video, and other audiovisual materials.
  3. 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.
  4. 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



Access to Library Resources for Minors: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
The American Library Association supports equal and equitable access to all library resources and services by users of all ages. Library policies and procedures that effectively deny minors equal and equitable access to all library resources and services available to other users is in violation of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights. The American Library Association opposes all attempts to restrict access to library services, materials, and facilities based on the age of library users.


Article V of the Library Bill of Rights states, “A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.” The right to use a library includes free access to, and unrestricted use of, all the services, materials, and facilities the library has to offer. Every restriction on access to, and use of, library resources, based solely on the chronological age, apparent maturity, educational level, literacy skills, emancipatory or other legal status of users violates Article V. This includes minors who do not have a parent or guardian available to sign a library card application or permission slip. Unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness should be able to obtain a library card regardless of library policies related to chronological age.


School and public libraries are charged with the mission of providing services and resources to meet the diverse interests and informational needs of the communities they serve. Services, materials, and facilities that fulfill the needs and interests of library users at different stages in their personal development are a necessary part of providing library services and should be determined on an individual basis. Equitable access to all library resources and services should not be abridged based on chronological age, apparent maturity, educational level, literacy skills, legal status, or through restrictive scheduling and use policies.


Libraries should not limit the selection and development of library resources simply because minors will have access to them. A library’s failure to acquire materials on the grounds that minors may be able to access those materials diminishes the credibility of the library in the community and restricts access for all library users.


Children and young adults unquestionably possess First Amendment rights, including the right to receive information through the library in print, sound, images, data, social media, online applications, games, technologies, programming, and other formats.1 Constitutionally protected speech cannot be suppressed solely to protect children or young adults from ideas or images a legislative body believes to be unsuitable for them.2 Libraries and their library governing bodies should not resort to age restrictions in an effort to avoid actual or anticipated objections, because only a court of law can determine whether or not content is constitutionally protected.


Article VII of the Library Bill of Rights states, “All people, regardless of origin, age, background, or views, possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use.” This includes students and minors, who have a right to be free from any unreasonable intrusion into or surveillance of their lawful library use.3


The mission, goals, and objectives of libraries cannot authorize libraries and their governing bodies to assume, abrogate, or overrule the rights and responsibilities of parents and guardians. As “Libraries: An American Value” states, “We affirm the responsibility and the right of all parents and guardians to guide their own children’s use of the library and its resources and services.”4 Libraries and their governing bodies cannot assume the role of parents or the functions of parental authority in the private relationship between parent and child. Libraries and their governing bodies shall ensure that only parents and guardians have the right and the responsibility to determine their children’s—and only their children’s—access to library resources. Parents and guardians who do not want their children to have access to specific library services, materials, or facilities should so advise their own children. Libraries and library governing bodies should not use rating systems to inhibit a minor’s access to materials.5

Libraries and their governing bodies have a legal and professional obligation to ensure that all members of the communities they serve have free and equitable access to a diverse range of library resources and services that is inclusive, regardless of content, approach, or format. This principle of library service applies equally to all users, minors as well as adults. Lack of access to information can be harmful to minors. Libraries and their governing bodies must uphold this principle in order to provide adequate and effective service to minors.


1 Brown v. Entertainment Merchant’s Association, et al. 564 U.S. 08-1448 (2011).

2 Erznoznik v. City of Jacksonville, 422 U.S. 205 (1975): “Speech that is neither obscene as to youths nor subject to some other legitimate proscription cannot be suppressed solely to protect the young from ideas or images that a legislative body thinks unsuitable for them. In most circumstances, the values protected by the First Amendment are no less applicable when government seeks to control the flow of information to minors.” See also Tinker v. Des Moines School Dist., 393 U.S.503 (1969); West Virginia Bd. of Ed. v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943); AAMA v. Kendrick, 244 F.3d 572 (7th Cir. 2001).

3 “Privacy: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights,” adopted June 19, 2002, by the ALA Council; amended July 1, 2014; and June 24, 2019.

4 “Libraries: An American Value,” adopted on February 3, 1999, by ALA Council.

5 “Rating Systems: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights,” adopted on June 30, 2015, by ALA Council; amended June 25, 2019.


Adopted June 30, 1972, by the ALA Council; amended July 1, 1981; July 3, 1991; June 30, 2004; July 2, 2008 under previous name “Free Access to Libraries for Minors”; July 1, 2014; and June 25, 2019.




Restricted Access to Library Materials: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
Libraries are a traditional forum for the open exchange of information. Restricting access to library materials violates the basic tenets of the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights.


Some libraries block access to certain materials by placing physical or virtual barriers between the user and those materials. For example, materials are sometimes labeled for content or placed in a “locked case,” “adults only,” “restricted shelf,” or “high-demand” collection. Access to certain materials is sometimes restricted to protect them from theft or mutilation, or because of statutory authority or institutional mandate.


In some libraries, access is restricted based on computerized reading management programs that assign reading levels to books and/or users and limit choices to titles on the program’s reading list. Titles not on the reading management list have been removed from the collection in some school libraries. Organizing collections by reading management program level, ability, grade, or age level is another example of restricted access. Even though the chronological age or grade level of users is not representative of their information needs or total reading abilities, users may feel inhibited from selecting resources located in areas that do not correspond to their assigned characteristics.


Physical restrictions and content filtering of library resources and services may generate psychological, service, or language skills barriers to access as well. Because restricted materials often deal with controversial, unusual, or sensitive subjects, having to ask a library worker for access to them may be embarrassing or inhibiting for patrons desiring access. Even when a title is listed in the catalog with a reference to its restricted status, a barrier is placed between the patron and the publication.1 Because restricted materials often feature information that some people consider objectionable, potential library users may be predisposed to think of labeled and filtered resources as objectionable and be discouraged from asking for access to them.


Federal and some state statutes require libraries that accept specific types of federal and/or state funding to install content filters that limit access to Internet resources for minors and adults. Internet filters are applied to Internet resources in some libraries may prevent users from finding targeted categories of information, much of which is constitutionally protected. The use of Internet filters must be addressed through library policies and procedures to ensure that users receive information and that filters do not prevent users from exercising their First Amendment rights. Users have the right to unfiltered access to constitutionally protected information.2 


Library policies that restrict access to resources for any reason must be carefully formulated and administered to ensure they do not violate established principles of intellectual freedom. This caution is reflected in ALA policies, such as “Evaluating Library Collections,3” “Access to Library Resources and Services for Minors,4” “Preservation Policy,” and the ACRL “Code of Ethics for Special Collections Librarians.”5


Donated resources require special consideration. In keeping with the “Joint Statement on Access” of the American Library Association and Society of American Archivists,6 libraries should avoid accepting donor agreements or entering into contracts that impose permanent restrictions on special collections. As stated in the “Joint Statement on Access,” it is the responsibility of a library with such collections “to make available original research materials in its possession on equal terms of access.”


A primary goal of the library profession is to facilitate access to all points of view on current and historical issues. All proposals for restricted access should be carefully scrutinized to ensure that the purpose is not to suppress a viewpoint or to place a barrier between users and content. Libraries must maintain policies and procedures that serve the diverse needs of their users and protect the First Amendment right to receive information.


1 “Labeling Systems: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights,” adopted June 30, 2015, by ALA Council.

2Access to Digital Resources and Services: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights,” adopted January 24, 1996 by the ALA Council; amended January 19, 2005; July 15, 2009 under previous name “Access to Digital Information, Services, and Networks”; and June 25, 2019. 

Evaluating Library Collections: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights,” adopted February 2, 1973, by the ALA Council; amended July 1, 1981; June 2, 2008; and June 25, 2019.

4 “Access to Library Resources and Services for Minors: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights,” adopted June 30, 1972, by the ALA Council; amended July 1, 1981; July 3, 1991; June 30, 2004; July 2, 2008 under previous name “Free Access to Libraries for Minors”; July 1, 2014; and June 25, 2019.

5 “Code of Ethics for Special Collections Librarians” approved by ACRL in October 2003.

6 “ACRL/SAA Joint Statement on Access to Research Materials in Archives and Special Collections Libraries” Approved by ACRL in July 2009.


Adopted February 2, 1973, by the ALA Council; amended July 1, 1981; July 3, 1991; July 12, 2000; June 30, 2004; January 28, 2009; and July 1, 2014.



Access for Children and Young Adults to Non-Print Materials: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
Library collections of non-print materials raise a number of intellectual freedom issues, especially regarding minors. Article V of the Library Bill of Rights states, “A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.”

The American Library Association’s principles protect minors’ access to sound, images, data, games, software, and other content in all formats such as tapes, CDs, DVDs, music CDs, computer games, software, databases, and other emerging technologies. ALA’s Free Access to Libraries for Minors: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights states:

…The “right to use a library” includes free access to, and unrestricted use of, all the services, materials, and facilities the library has to offer. Every restriction on access to, and use of, library resources, based solely on the chronological age, educational level, literacy skills, or legal emancipation of users violates Article V.

…Parents—and only parents—have the right and responsibility to restrict access of their children—and only their children—to library resources. Parents who do not want their children to have access to certain library services, materials, or facilities should so advise their children. Librarians and library governing bodies cannot assume the role of parents or the functions of parental authority in the private relationship between parent and child.

Lack of access to information can be harmful to minors. Librarians and library governing bodies have a public and professional obligation to ensure that all members of the community they serve have free, equal, and equitable access to the entire range of library resources regardless of content, approach, format, or amount of detail. This principle of library service applies equally to all users, minors as well as adults. Librarians and library governing bodies must uphold this principle in order to provide adequate and effective service to minors.

Policies that set minimum age limits for access to any nonprint materials or information technology, with or without parental permission, abridge library use for minors. Age limits based on the cost of the materials are also unacceptable. Librarians, when dealing with minors, should apply the same standards to circulation of nonprint materials as are applied to books and other print materials except when directly and specifically prohibited by law.

Recognizing that librarians cannot act in loco parentis, ALA acknowledges and supports the exercise by parents of their responsibility to guide their own children’s reading and viewing. Libraries should provide published reviews and/or reference works that contain information about the content, subject matter, and recommended audiences for nonprint materials. These resources will assist parents in guiding their children without implicating the library in censorship.

In some cases, commercial content ratings, such as the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) movie ratings, might appear on the packaging or promotional materials provided by producers or distributors. However, marking out or removing this information from materials or packaging constitutes expurgation or censorship.

MPAA movie ratings, Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) game ratings, and other rating services are private advisory codes and have no legal standing (Expurgation of Library Materials). For the library to add ratings to nonprint materials if they are not already there is unacceptable. It is also unacceptable to post a list of such ratings with a collection or to use them in circulation policies or other procedures. These uses constitute labeling, “an attempt to prejudice attitudes” (Labels and Rating Systems), and are forms of censorship. The application of locally generated ratings schemes intended to provide content warnings to library users is also inconsistent with the Library Bill of Rights.

The interests of young people, like those of adults, are not limited by subject, theme, or level of sophistication. Librarians have a responsibility to ensure young people’s access to materials and services that reflect diversity of content and format sufficient to meet their needs.

Adopted June 28, 1989, by the ALA Council; amended June 30, 2004. (







If you wish to recommend the removal of a work from the collection, please answer the following questions:


  1. Author of the work________________________________________________________


  1. Title of the work__________________________________________________________


  1. How was the work brought to your attention? ___________________________________





Do you know what literary critics/reviewers think of this work?




Have you read, listened to, or viewed the work in its entirety?




Are you objecting to the work in its entirety?




  1. What, in your opinion, is the theme of the work? ______________________________




  1. What is your specific objection to the work? Be sure to cite details, page numbers, etc.




  1. In what section of the library is the work shelved? _____________________________


  1. What do you feel might be the result of reading, listening to, or viewing this work?




  1. If the work were removed from the library, what comparable work would you recommend to replace it?






Name: _______________________________________

Address: _____________________________________


Email: _______________________________________ 

Telephone: ___________________________________

Date: _________________