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Libraries play a crucial role in the
foundations of any democratic society, which succeeds only when people are
informed about the issues of the day and are able to explore ideas, even
controversial ones. It is a library's responsibility to provide a collection
with a depth and breadth of ideas, and to actively engage in resource sharing
activities that enable library users to fulfill their information needs. People
have their own ideas about what is appropriate for people to find in a library
regardless of format. People have a right to share their grievances with
library staff and the library must be prepared through policies and procedures
to address the public's concerns and uphold the right to information.
Finally, there is a concern about
national security and the role of libraries. This requires libraries to
carefully maintain a balance between complying with laws about national and
local security and protecting the privacy of those who use our libraries. This
handbook is designed to help libraries chart a course in today's troubled
waters, pitting public concerns about access to information with the public's
right to information. Use it to help you help your community participate in all
the privileges that a democratic society affords.
Intellectual Freedom Statement
The Colorado Association of
Libraries (CAL) subscribes in full to the principles set forth in the American
Library Association's Library Bill of Rights, the Interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights, and the Freedom to Read
Charge of the CAL Intellectual
- Educate the Colorado library community
about intellectual freedom principles and issues through programs,
lectures, and publications
- Support First Amendment rights in all
appropriate venues and, in conjunction with the Legislative Committee,
support legislation and ballot initiatives that promote the principles of
- Recommend expenditures of the Julie J.
Boucher Memorial Fund to the CAL Executive Board
Seeking Assistance from the CAL Intellectual Freedom Committee
CAL cannot provide legal counsel or
direct funding to handle requests for reconsideration of materials, but will,
through its Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC), offer the skills, experience
and energy of its membership to defend established intellectual freedom
principles. The CAL office may be reached by calling 303-463-6400 or via e-mail
To help it respond on behalf of
libraries and librarians in Colorado who have received requests for
reconsideration of items in their collections, the CAL IFC needs to be aware of
such incidents. Any library employee, friend or trustee who knows of a problem
is encouraged to contact the chair of the CAL IFC. The CAL IFC chair will
advise you how to cope with the reported situation. The chair may, if appropriate,
refer you to a CAL IFC member with special experience or training by type of
library (i.e., school, public, academic, special). Every effort will be made to
respond to reported incidents with guidance that is timely, practical and
The CAL IFC will never usurp the
local librarian's prerogative to resolve the problem as the local context deems
suitable or necessary. The CAL IFC may suggest reporting serious incidents to
the Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association for
Julie J. Boucher Memorial Fund,
Awards, and Lecture Series
The CAL IFC honors the memory of our
past chair Julie J. Boucher through the Boucher Memorial Fund, Awards, and
Lecture Series. Please visit our memorial page for more information on each of these projects and on how
you can donate to the Boucher Memorial Fund.
Confidentiality of Library Records
The confidentiality of library
patrons in Colorado is protected under the "Library Law" portion of
the Colorado Revised Statutes, Privacy of User Records section, 24-90-119,
which reads as:
1. Except as set forth in subsection
(2) of this section, a publicly-supported library shall not disclose any record
or other information that identifies a person as having requested or obtained
specific materials or service or as otherwise having used the library.
2. Records may be disclosed in the
a. When necessary for the reasonable
operation of the library;
b. Upon written consent of the user;
c. Pursuant to subpoena, upon court order, or where otherwise required by law.
d. To a custodial parent or legal guardian who has access to a minor's library
card or its authorization number for the purpose of accessing by electronic
means library records of the minor.
3. Any library official, employee,
or volunteer who discloses information in violation of this section commits a
class 2 petty offense and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine
of not more than three hundred dollars.
Intellectual Freedom Checklist
- Written mission statement defining the
kinds of service the library will offer to the community.
- Written policies including material
selection, programs, exhibits, and other services, formally adopted by the
governing body and periodically revised.
- Written procedures including how to handle
concerns and requests for reconsideration of materials or services.
- Regular training of staff, volunteers, and
trustees about the library's policies and the principles of intellectual
- Regular training of staff and volunteers in
public service techniques, including how to handle complaints or
expressions of concern.
- Public relations program aimed at
individuals and community groups to inform them of the materials and
services provided by the library and how the community benefits from the
library's practice of intellectual freedom.
- Local, state, and national organizations
that are advocates of intellectual freedom and have resources to assist
- Influential individuals in the community
who may have significant impact on the library.
Keep in Touch:
- Read the newspapers, popular magazines, and
professional journals, attend conferences, subscribe to the Intellectual Freedom News, and watch the news... Know about local
and global intellectual freedom issues.
- Be familiar with local, state, and federal
legislation as well as Colorado Association of Libraries and American
Library Association policy regarding intellectual freedom. This will
inform your policy and procedure writing, and offer support in the case of
a request for reconsideration.
Share and Announce:
- Don't wait until you have to defend the
Library Bill of Rights... PROMOTE IT! Don't wait for a request for
reconsideration or Banned Books Week to broadcast the library's philosophy
about intellectual freedom. Every day is a good day to promote free access
to ideas and information for all people, regardless of age, origin,
background or views. Librarians know how powerful and effective
intellectual freedom is; now we need to educate our communities.
- Get your governing body involved as well.
As the political body representing the library, it is the ideal advocate
for the library and for intellectual freedom.
- Initiate and maintain good relationships
with civic, religious, educational, and political bodies in your
community. These groups may be able to assist with outreach and be there
with support in the case of a request for reconsideration. Intellectual
freedom is everyone's issue.
Well-developed, formally adopted,
written policies are essential to effective library operations. Policies are
broadly written statements that set the parameters for service, not the details
about how services are provided. Some important things to keep in mind:
- All library policies, including the mission
statement, should reflect a commitment to intellectual freedom.
- All policies should be aligned with the
library's mission statement.
- When any policy is written, it should be
discussed, understood, and approved by the governing body of the library.
It is essential that this body supports the policies of the library. When
the membership of the governing body changes, the policies should be
reexamined and readopted, and all staff should be notified.
- Ensure that all staff are aware of and
understand the library's policies as a part of training.
- Review the policies regularly, evaluating
whether each still meets the needs and serves the goals of the library.
The ALA Intellectual Freedom
Committee offers guidance on drafting and implementing policies and procedures:
Dealing with Concerns about Library
Every citizen of your community has
a right to request that you reconsider a decision you make regarding selection
of or placement of a book or other item in the collection (librarians are not
infallible). They do NOT, however, have the right to remove an item from that
collection. That decision rests with your governing body and in accordance with
your library's written policies and procedures. For more information, visit the
ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom's Dealing with Concerns about Library Resource.
Intellectual Freedom Documents
The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom makes all the major intellectual freedom documents available on the ALA website.
Other Sources of Intellectual
American Library Association Office
for Intellectual Freedom
800-545-2433, ext. 4223
"Established December 1, 1967, the Office for Intellectual Freedom is
charged with implementing ALA policies concerning the concept of intellectual
freedom as embodied in the Library Bill of Rights,
the Association’s basic policy on free access to libraries and library
materials. The goal of the office is to educate librarians and the general
public about the nature and importance of intellectual freedom in
Freedom to Read Foundation
800-545-2433 ext. 4226
"The First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees all
individuals the right to express their ideas without governmental interference,
and to read and listen to the ideas of others. The Freedom to Read Foundation
was established to promote and defend this right; to foster libraries and
institutions wherein every individual's First Amendment freedoms are fulfilled;
and to support the right of libraries to include in their collections and make
available any work which they may legally acquire."
Colorado Chapter of the American
Civil Liberties Union
"The American Civil Liberties Union is the nation's foremost advocate of
individual rights -- litigating, legislating, and educating the public on a
broad array of issues affecting individual freedom in the United States."
People for the American Way
"People For the American Way and People For the American Way Foundation
work to protect the heart of democracy and the soul of the nation. In Congress
and state capitals, in classrooms and in libraries, in courthouses and houses
of worship, on the airwaves and on the printed page, on sidewalks and in
cyberspace, we work to promote full citizen participation in our democracy and
safeguard the principles of our Constitution from those who threaten the
Last revision 4/2017
The CAL Intellectual Freedom
Committee extends its gratitude to the New Hampshire Library Association and to
the Texas Library Association for their willingness to share portions of their
respective IF manuals with CAL in preparing this handbook. Special thanks
to Nancy Bolt, retired Colorado State Librarian, for her contribution of the