Just back from attending a seminar at the American Library Association’s national conference in Chicago. Key take-away?


Just like fire and police and the men and women who plow the snow from streets in winter and care for public parks and collect our garbage, they are entrusted with taxpayer dollars to do a job that goes way beyond checking out books and reshelving them once they come back. Whether a large city network of central and branch locations or a single facility in a small rural area, they are charged with satisfying the diverse and complex interests of the populations they serve.

Budgets are limited and increasingly political self-interests have begun to influence the already tough decisions librarians make every day. In 1967 the ALA established the Office for Intellectual Freedom charged with implementing the concept of intellectual freedom as articulated in the Library Bill of Rights first adopted in 1939. It was amended in 1944, 1948, 1961, 1967, and 1980 with Article VII added in 2019. The document currently reads:

  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.
  3. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
  4. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
  5. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.