Library Bill of Rights

One of the greatest aspects of our nation’s social and political history is our rock solid determination to have open discussion, the free exchange of ideas and opinions. People don’t go to jail for expressing dissent, reading certain books or openly disagreeing with the powerful, in writing or otherwise. The First Amendment is first for a good reason. How can a democracy exist if free speech is criminalized?

Libraries have their own version of the Bill of Rights, adopted by The American Library Association (ALA) on June 19, 1939. Although the original document focused on unbiased book selection, a balanced collection and open meeting rooms, it reflected concerns with Nazi Germany’s intolerance for freedom of speech and expression. The preamble to the first document stated, “Today, indications in many parts of the world point to growing intolerance, suppression of free speech, and censorship affecting the rights of minorities and individuals…”

Here at the Leavenworth Public Library, we use the Library Bill of Rights to help guide services to all members of the community. They are a standard in the business and truly represent fundamental American values like the freedom of information, equality and free speech. They are clear, easy to understand and have kept up with the times.

Library Bill of Rights

  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.
  2. 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.
  2. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
  3. 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.