Howard County Library System
 
How We Choose - Materials Selection Policy


I. Purpose

II. Vision Statement

III. Mission Statement

IV. Primary Objective

V. Authority For Selection

VI. Criteria For Selection

VII. Formats

VIII. Type

IX. Internet Use Policy

X. Collaboration With Other Agencies

XI. Gifts and Memorials

XII. Collection Maintenance

XIII. Equal Opportunity in Education

XIV. Reconsideration of HCLS Materials

XV. Appendix A

XVI. Appendix B

XVII. Appendix C

XVIII. Appendix D


Supplement #3 is reviewed each year at the March meeting of the Board of Trustees. Approved: March 20, 2013


I. Purpose

How We Choose, the selection policy of Howard County Library System (HCLS), is a general guide for staff members responsible for selection of materials and an information tool for customers interested in knowing how materials are selected for HCLS' collection.

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II. Vision Statement

A major component of Howard County's strong education system, we advance the economy, enhancing quality of life.

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III. Mission Statement

We deliver high-quality public education for all ages.

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IV. Primary Objective

A key component of HCLS’ educational mission, HCLS’ vast and diverse collection of materials in all formats supports HCLS’ curriculum, which comprises three pillars: Self-Directed Education, Research Assistance & Instruction, and Instructive & Enlightening Experiences.

Delivering such an extensive, first-rate collection to customers involves selecting, acquiring, organizing, preserving, maintaining, and providing convenient access.

HCLS provides, within its financial limitations, a general collection of up-to-date materials embracing broad areas of knowledge. Included are works of enduring value and timely materials of contemporary significance.

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V. Authority For Selection

Ultimate responsibility for the selection of HCLS materials rests with the President & CEO, who operates within the framework of policies determined by the Board of Trustees (Board). Ongoing responsibility is shared with the Chief Operating Officer for Support Services and the Head of Materials Management. Initial selection of materials is delegated to appropriate staff members who are familiary with selection tools and models.

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VI. Criteria For Selection

Since no library can feasibly acquire all print and non-print materials, every library must of necessity employ a policy of selectivity in acquisitions. Selection decisions are made on the basis of staff member judgment, expertise and knowledge of what is already in the collection, and by evaluating reviews and other selection tools. Staff members may elect not to purchase vanity press and self-published items if the author's credentials are not apparent.

HCLS welcomes customer requests to add specific materials to the collection. HCLS staff members thoroughly review all such recommendations prior to making a determination on whether to add. Decisions are guided by this document, HCLS’ mission, and available budget.

A. Selection Criteria

Selection of materials in all areas of the collection is governed, in whole or in part, by the following criteria:
1. Accuracy
2. Authoritativeness of publisher or producer
3. Availability of material elsewhere in the area (county, state)
4. Budget availability
5. Ease of use (in particular with regard to electronic resources)
6. Importance of author
7. Literary merit or artistic quality
8. Potential or known use by customers
9. Price
10. Relationship to other material in the collection
11. Scarcity of material on the subject
12. Significance of subject matter
13. Suitability of format size, paper, print, binding
14. Timeliness
15. Value to the collection

B. Reviewing Tools

Because it is impractical for staff members to read, listen to, or view every item added to the collection, professionally recognized reviewing tools are used in the selection process.


VII. Formats

A. Print

In general, print titles, which include books, magazines, and newspapers, are a mainstay of HCLS' collection.

B. Non-Print Materials
1. Audio-Visual
Audio-visual materials, including compact discs and DVDs are purchased for a wide range of interests and age levels. Selection is based on the same criteria as print. Community interest and budgetary limitations are also considered.

2. Electronic
a. Specialized online research tools are a critical component of Pillar I, Self-Directed Education. They include dictionaries, encyclopedias, and bibliographic databases. Selection of these tools is based on systematic evaluation, increased value to the existing collection, ability of HCLS to provide support, and cost.

b. Ebooks and downloadable audiobooks are selected using the same criteria as the print format.

C. New formats are considered for the collection when, by industry report, national survey results and evidence from local requests, a significant portion of the community population has the necessary technology to make use of the format. Availability of items in the format, the cost per item, and HCLS' ability to acquire and handle the items will also be factors in determining when a new format will be collected. Similar considerations will influence the decision to delete a format from HCLS' collections.
 
 
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VIII. Type

A. Adults
HCLS endeavors to provide adults a full range of materials in a wide variety of formats. Backgrounds, abilities, and levels of education identifiable within the adult community are taken into consideration when purchasing these materials.
1. Fiction

The adult fiction collection consists of novels and short stories in the English language (see also, World Languages, below), including classical literature, popular best sellers, critically-acclaimed contemporary fiction and genre fiction. English translations of representative authors from other countries are included.

In addition to the selection criteria noted above, each title is considered on its own merit taking into consideration contemporary significance, literary quality, and permanent value as creative, experimental, or realistic writing.
a. All titles must contribute to the balance of the collection in regard to:
(1) types and styles of literature
(2) subject treated, and
(3) customer appeal.
b. No attempt is made to collect the complete works of an author or genre.
2. Nonfiction

The nonfiction collection enables research on a wide range of subjects and interests. Emphasis is placed on balance within the collection and the inclusion of materials reflecting varying viewpoints and educational levels.
a. General treatment of subject matter is preferred unless there is an identified community demand for more specialized treatment in specific subject areas. Materials of historical importance to a subject field may also be selected.

b. Subject concentrations may be built in response to community demand, but these concentrations will be monitored and changed to adapt to changing community interests and research needs.

c. Materials that reflect school curricula are an important part of the nonfiction collection. Such materials will vary in content and reading difficulty to accommodate the abilities of a wide range of students.

3. In-house Research

The in-house research collection provides factual information on a wide variety of topics. Materials must be accurate and authoritative. No attempt is made to duplicate extensive research collections available in academic and special libraries.

Special considerations for research materials include:
a. scope and depth of coverage,
b. ease of use and special locating features,
c. historical perspective as well as currency, and
d. timeliness.
Emphasis is placed on acquiring materials relating to Maryland, Howard County, and Columbia as a planned community as well.
4. World Languages

The world language collection is primarily a popular reading collection for speakers of languages other than English and students who wish to practice their foreign language skills. Languages maintained and added reflect community needs and requests, particularly from foreign speaking readers and organizations such as the Foreign Information and Referral Network (FIRN). The collection includes fiction and nonfiction.

5. Materials for Customers with Special Needs

a. HCLS provides access to a wide range of materials for people with special needs. Customers can borrow adaptive equipment, such as portable telecommunication devices, closed caption decoders, and magnifiers.

b. Books in large print are purchased for customers with limited vision. Recent and popular titles, as well as fiction and nonfiction classics, are selected from large print publishers. HCLS does not maintain a collection of talking books and Braille materials, since customers may borrow these materials from the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.
6. Local Authors

Works of local authors are acquired if these materials meet general selection criteria.

7. Textbooks

HCLS selects a limited number of textbooks on the basis of content, relevance to the book collection, and requests for the subject matter by the general public. No attempt is made to purchase textbooks solely because they are used in local schools or colleges.

8. Adult Basic Education

Instructional materials, both print and audio-visual, as well as high interest, low vocabulary fiction and nonfiction are selected for adults who want to improve their reading and writing skills as well as for those persons with limited English proficiency.

9. Audio-visual
a. The music collection includes recordings that are representative of many types of music. Each recording is considered for the collection on its own merit. No attempt is made to collect all the recordings of a composer or recording artist.

b. The audiobook collection includes a variety of fiction and nonfiction recorded books, both in abridged and unabridged formats.
 
c. The adult DVD collections consists of fiction and non-fiction films. The fiction collection includes movies that represent both popular and highly acclaimed full-length films. The non-fiction collection includes DVDs covering a broad variety of topics, documentaries and PBS productions of plays.
 
B. Teens
The teen collection includes fiction materials whose themes, content, and format indicate that they would be of interest to teens (grades 6-12). The collection is primarily composed of materials specifically written for teens; however, materials produced for adults or children, which address concerns and interests of teens, may be selected to provide for the wide variation in sophistication and reading ability of this age group. The collection provides a transition from children's literature to adult literature.

C. Children

HCLS selects print, non-print and electronic materials to provide a well-balanced collection for children from early childhood through grade 5. All materials, regardless of format, will present concepts at the sophistication level of the intended audience, and will reflect themes, ideas, and activities that appeal to children.

Specific criteria for selection include suitability of content and vocabulary to the level of the reader, fair and accurate treatment of the subject, and contribution of the material to the balance of the total children's collection. Additional materials are selected for qualities that make them valuable to children with special needs, talents, or interests.
 
1. Picture Books and Easy Readers

Picture books and easy readers meet the interests and needs of children from preschool through grade 5. These materials contain text with literary quality and/or well-executed, imaginative illustrations.

2. Fiction

Fiction is provided for children of various reading levels through grade 5. In fiction, the age of the main character should be appropriate for the intended audience and there should be a clear, satisfactory resolution to the story. Critically acclaimed books of imaginative fiction and those which portray a period, an incident, or a way of life are sometimes selected despite the occasional use of a questionable word or illustration.

3. Nonfiction

Nonfiction is provided for children through grade 5. Nonfiction must be accurate, informative, current, and is selected in as wide a range of reading levels and interests as possible. A special effort is made to select materials for frequently assigned school projects and high-interest topics.

4. Research

The children's research collection provides quick access to factual information on a variety of topics.

5. Audio-visual
a. The children's audio-visual collection consists of compact discs and DVDs. Spoken word recordings include compact discs and compact disc/book combinations. They are purchased for children ages preschool through grade 5. Emphasis is on quality and educational value.
 
6. Educational Toys

Since young children learn by doing, a collection of developmentally appropriate educational toys for children from birth to three years of age is available for loan. Each toy is evaluated for safety, sturdiness of construction, appropriateness for targeted age levels, developmental play value and interest, and suitability for borrowing. Adapted toys are available for children with developmental delays.
IX. Internet Use Policy

A. The Internet use policy is an essential component of HCLS' commitment to equal opportunity in education.

B. HCLS is an Internet access provider, providing access to Internet-based resources consistent with its mission with respect to print resources and audio/visual resources.

C. HCLS acknowledges its obligation under Section 23-506.1 of the Education Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland to adopt and implement policies and procedures to prevent minors from obtaining access through the Internet or any other interactive computer service to materials that are obscene or constitute child pornography. Further, HCLS’ Internet use policy prohibits the viewing of pornographic images. Procedures should encourage access to sites consistent with HCLS' purpose. HCLS, however, is not and cannot be responsible for what people may find when using Internet-based resources. As with print resources and audio/visual resources, the customer must ultimately control his/her own access to the information available. In particular, parents and guardians must supervise their children's use of the Internet. Staff members will actively intervene if they observe any customer accessing materials that are obscene or constitute pornography. They will ask such customers to exit any sites that are reasonably determined by staff members to display materials that are obscene or constitute pornography. If a customer refuses to exit such a site, staff members will take such action as is reasonably necessary, including requesting police presence, to assure HCLS’ compliance with the aforesaid Section 23-506.1 and Board policy.

D. Customers using HCLS’ computers may be asked by staff members to limit their time on equipment when another customer is waiting to use an HCLS computer and none is available.

E. HCLS emphasizes that customers using the Internet must be prudent consumers of Internet information, intelligently skeptical of the validity of the information they find because not all of the information on the Internet is accurate, complete or current information. Staff members will assist customers in identifying the range of Internet-accessible resources to answer a research query.

F. The President & CEO shall assure that effective procedures are in existence to implement this Internet Use Policy.

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X. Collaboration With Other Agencies

HCLS recognizes the wealth of resources available through other libraries in the Baltimore-Washington area and does not needlessly duplicate materials. The Maryland Inter-Library Loan Organization makes available the resources of neighboring municipal, county, and academic libraries as well to HCLS customers. Access to the holdings of Maryland libraries and many libraries throughout the United States is available through SAILOR a service of Maryland's public libraries that provides broadband Internet access for public libraries, schools, and local government in Maryland, and an extensive collection of specialized online research tools for the use of Maryland public library customers.

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XI. Gifts and Memorials

HCLS accepts books and other materials with the understanding that they most likely will not be added to the HCLS collection. The material is evaluated by the same selection standards employed for the purchase of new materials. If the material is not suitable because of condition, out-dated information, or other considerations, HCLS forwards the material to be sold. HCLS does not appraise gifts.

HCLS accepts gifts of money for the purchase of materials, from individuals and organizations. Such gifts may be in memory or in honor of an individual, in which case a gift plate is added. HCLS selection standards also apply in these cases.

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XII. Collection Maintenance

Materials in the collection are continuously monitored. Items may be withdrawn if they contain outdated or inaccurate information, are superseded by a newer edition, are worn or badly marked, are duplicates, or are seldom used. Space, replacement cost, and the quality and appearance of the collection are factors in this decision. The weeding process is an integral part of the ongoing collection maintenance activities to keep the collection useful and vibrant. Withdrawn material will be replaced as appropriate if possible.

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XIII. Equal Opportunity in Education

An educated public is possible only through free access to materials reflecting a variety of ideas and opinions.

HCLS supports and promotes this principle by delivering a collection that reflects various issues and sometimes conflicting and controversial viewpoints that may be unpopular with segments of the public. In so doing, HCLS does not support specific beliefs or viewpoints. Likewise, the selection of materials for inclusion in the collection does not constitute endorsement of the viewpoints contained therein. In consonance with *Resolution 1981-32 of the Maryland State Board of Education, and within the conceptual framework expressed in the *Library Bill of Rights, and the *Freedom to Read and *Freedom to View statements adopted by the American Library Association, HCLS affirms the public's right to free access to information. While anyone is free to reject for himself/herself books or other materials of which he/she does not approve, he/she cannot exercise this right of censorship to restrict the freedom of others.

With respect to children's and teens' use of HCLS materials, HCLS places the responsibility for the selection choices of children and teens with their parents or legal guardians.

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XIV. Reconsideration of HCLS Materials

Customers may request that materials in the collection be re-evaluated for their merit or placement. To do so, the *Request for Reconsideration of Materials must be completed and forwarded to any HCLS location. Customers receive timely written replies to such requests.

*See Appendices

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XV. Appendix A

MARYLAND STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION RESOLUTION 1981-3A June 24, 1981

WHEREAS, The freedom to read is essential to our democracy; and

WHEREAS, Public libraries have a responsibility to make available to the public books and other material offering the widest diversity of knowledge and ideas, views and expressions, so that citizens may choose freely from among a broad range of conflicting ideas; and

WHEREAS, It is in the public interest for libraries to reaffirm this principle in policies and procedures for the selection of library materials and for dealing with complaints and requests for the removal of material by individuals or groups, therefore be it

RESOLVED, That the State Board of Education endorses the Freedom to Read principle and requires boards of library trustees of each public library system to adopt policies that will affirm and guide the effective implementation of this principle, and be it further

RESOLVED, That the Board directs the Assistant State Superintendent for Libraries to provide assistance to libraries and to report the result to the Board by June 1982.

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XVI. Appendix B


LIBRARY BILL OF RIGHTS Adopted June 18, 1948. Amended February 2, 1961, and January 23, 1980, inclusion of "age" reaffirmed January 23, 1996 by the ALA Council.

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.

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.

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XVII. Appendix C

THE FREEDOM TO READ Adopted June 25, 1953; revised January 28, 1972, January 16, 1991, July 12, 2000, June 30, 2004 by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee.

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 school, 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 accept 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 need the help of censors to assist them in this task. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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 wherever 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.

7. 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.

A Joint Statement by:

American Library Association

Association of American Publisher

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XVIII. Appendix D

FREEDOM TO VIEW Endorsed by the American Library Association's Intellectual Freedom Committee and the ALA Council in June, 1979 and January 10, 1990

THE FREEDOM TO VIEW, along with the freedom to speak, to hear, and to read, is protected by the First Amendment of 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 possible access to film, video and other audio-visual 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 audio-visual materials.

3. To provide film, video, and other audio-visual 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 a film, video and other audio-visual materials on the basis of the moral, religious, or political beliefs of the producer or filmmaker or on the basis of controversial content.

5. 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.

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