Collection Development Policy

#Purpose and Mission Statement


The Collection Development Policy documents what, why, and how materials are selected as well as serves as a resource for selection librarians, public service staff and others interested in the Jacksonville Public Library's collection.

The Jacksonville Public Library is committed to a collection that attempts to meet the needs of the public it serves. Identifying our customer's needs and expectations and finding the means to meet or exceed those needs and expectations is a fundamental principle of public library service.

The Collection Development Policy sets the standard for the selection of materials and the maintenance of the collection, all of which supports the Jacksonville Public Library's mission statement:

To connect people with ideas that enlighten, encourage, inspire, enrich, and delight.


#Collection Development


The Jacksonville Public Library selects materials for its collection on the basis of literary, educational, informational and recreational value. The responsibility of selection rests with the Library Director or designee, who operates within the framework of policies determined by the Board of Library Trustees. The Library makes all decisions as to the retention, location, cataloging treatment, and other considerations relating to the selection, use, and disposition of the collection.

The Library offers free access to ideas and information encompassing all areas of knowledge and opinion to all citizens in an open, non-judgmental atmosphere. The Library reflects within its collection differing points of view. The Library does not promulgate particular beliefs or views, nor does the selection of a resource express or imply endorsement of the viewpoint of the author or publisher or vendor. No title is excluded on the basis of moral, racial, religious, or political belief. Library materials will not be marked to show approval or disapproval of the contents, nor will items be sequestered or access denied, except for the purpose of protecting resources from damage or theft.

Titles are selected, within the limitations of the budget, in various formats. Among the criteria considered when selecting are critical consensus among recognized subject authorities, literary merit, enduring value, accuracy, authoritativeness, social significance, importance of subject matter to the collection, timeliness, popular demand, cost, scarcity of material on the subject and availability elsewhere, quality and suitability of the format. Customers’ suggestions are encouraged and will be given due consideration.

The Library provides to the citizens of Duval County free access to books, magazines, the Internet, electronic databases, videos, DVDs and audio books in cassette and CD format, music CDs, downloadable e books and audio books. As formats continue to evolve the primary formats collected may change.

The Library endorses the American Library Association's Freedom to Read statement, the Library Bill of Rights, and the statements on Labeling Library Materials, Access to Electronic Information, Services and Networks, and Free Access to Libraries for Minors as appended to this document within the framework of the Child Internet Protection Act (CIPA).


#The Community of Jacksonville


Jacksonville is a growing city with a population of 857,040 in Duval County in 2010. Between 2000 and 2009 Jacksonville grew at a 10% growth rate according to the U.S. Census Bureau website.

An expansive city of 841 square miles, Jacksonville is located in the northeast corner of Florida at the mouth of the St. Johns River. Jacksonville has a consolidated city and county government. Only the Beaches and Baldwin function with independent government. There are significantly different rates of growth and types of communities throughout the City of Jacksonville.

Jacksonville’s population is 64% white, 30% African American, 3.6% Asian and 6.5% Hispanic. The city does have a growing immigrant population with Lutheran Social Services, one of the largest refugee resettlement organizations in the city, assisting just over 1300 refugees in 2008-2009. The median age of the population is similar to other central and North Florida cities such as Orlando and Tampa at 36 years. The age group from 0-18 comprises 32.1% of the overall population.

The largest civilian employment category in the metropolitan statistical area is Management, Professional and Related Occupations where 32.6% of the population is employed. The next highest category for employment is Sales and Office Occupations at 30.3% (source U.S. Census Bureau). The top five employers in the city reflect these categories. They are the Naval Air Station, Duval County Public Schools, Naval Station Mayport, City of Jacksonville and Baptist Health (source Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce).

Among the reasons so many residents are moving to Jacksonville are its mild climate, low cost of living, recreational opportunities and cultural and entertainment activities. According to the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce website “Northeast Florida’s cost of living is below the national average”. Recreation, culture and entertainment are also reasons that bring many people to the library. Organizations such as the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens, Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville (MOCA Jacksonville), Theater Jacksonville and other cultural groups generate interest in a wide variety of associated topics and in turn bring customers to the library to pursue their interests.

There are many higher education facilities in Jacksonville. A few of the larger are Jacksonville University, University of North Florida, Florida State College at Jacksonville, Edward Waters College, Jones College and Florida Coastal School of Law. Stanton College Preparatory High School, Paxon School for Advanced Studies, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and Mandarin High School are all identified as top 100 schools in Newsweek’s rankings of America’s Best High Schools. All of these educational institutions, in addition to the hundreds of other public and private schools, generate heavy use of the public libraries facilities.




Selection is a discerning and interpretive process, involving a general knowledge of the subject and its important literature, a familiarity with materials in the collection, awareness of the bibliographies of the subject, and recognition of the needs of the community.

Tools used in selection include professional journals, trade journals, subject bibliographies, publisher's catalogs and promotional materials, reviews from reputable sources, lists of recommended titles, and sales representatives for specific materials. Purchase suggestions from customers are also an important source and are given consideration.

Standard review sources include the following: Booklist, Florida Times Union Book section, Library Journal, New York Times Book Review, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Kirkus.




The Adult collection is comprised of current high interest materials in a wide range of popular formats:  fiction books, nonfiction books, downloadable formats, magazines and newspapers, electronic databases, Talking Books and Braille materials, government (local, state, and federal) documents, literacy materials, large print books, paperback books, and books in international languages.

The Teen collection is comprised of fiction and nonfiction titles that support the educational and recreational needs of young people in grades 6 through 12. This collection provides teens the opportunity to investigate their personal interests, thus helping them establish a better understanding of the world around them as they develop toward maturity.  The teen collection is also available in a wide range of popular formats.

The Children’s collection is comprised of library materials for all reading, listening, and viewing levels and for a wide variety of recreational and subject interests from birth through grade five.  Materials designed to support parents' and caregivers efforts to develop children's interests, experience, knowledge and development are also collected.  Library materials are provided in a variety of formats designed to develop reading, listening, viewing, and thinking skills. 

The Main Library houses a number of special collections including the Delius Collection, Genealogy Collection, Florida Collection, partial Federal Government Documents depository library, the African American Collection, Holocaust Collection, and the Ansbacher Map Collection.

Formal special collections such as the Genealogy Collection and the Florida Collection are located only at the Main Library.  Special collections are not established at branch locations. These are research collections and with limited exceptions will include fiction materials. The establishment of a new special collection or the elimination of an existing special collection at the Main Library is the sole prerogative of the Library.  The Library will not establish or retain a special collection that cannot be properly maintained or secured within normal operations and procedures.


#The scope of each of the current special collections at Main are:


The Florida Collection is a reference collection of materials about Florida with an emphasis on Jacksonville and Northeast Florida.  The collection was established in 1914 and comprises books, yearbooks, city directories, state and municipal documents, pamphlets, microforms, manuscripts, maps, photographs, postcards, vertical files, electronic resources and periodicals.

The African American Collection is a reference collection of materials highlighting the historical, social, civic, religious, economic and cultural life of African Americans in Northeast Florida. The collection was established in 2005 and contains books, microforms, periodicals, photographs, vertical files, electronic resources and personal papers.

The Delius Collection is a reference collection that contains materials about Frederick Delius, the British composer who lived in the Jacksonville area in the mid-1880s. The collection was established by a donation by Martha Richmond in the late 1940s. It includes monographs, records, scores, letters, dissertations, papers of the Delius Association of Florida, periodicals, programs, and vertical files.

The Genealogy Collection is a reference collection of materials selected for genealogical research. It covers the eastern United States with an emphasis on Florida, Georgia and other southeastern states. The collection was established in 1896 via donations from individuals and genealogy groups. It contains books, periodicals, microform, vertical files and electronic resources.

The Lewis Ansbacher Map Collection is a reference collection of antiquarian maps of Florida and Florida cities, North and South America, and the world. It includes historical views and plates focusing on northern Florida. The original collection of 244 maps was established in 2005 via a donation by the Lewis and Sybil Ansbacher Family Foundation; Sybil Ansbacher, wife of the late Mr. Ansbacher; and his brother, Jordan Ansbacher.

The Government Documents Collection is a reference collection with a small number of circulating items. It contains federal documents with an emphasis on military history, consumer and citizenship information, laws, regulations, research and statistics. The collection was established when the Jacksonville Public Library became the first public library in Florida to join the Federal Depository Library Program in 1914.  New additions from the federal government for this collection are in primarily in electronic format only. The collection also contains items in print, microform, media, and map formats.

The Holocaust Collection is a circulating collection that contains materials relating to the Jewish Holocaust experience. It was established in 2006 through a partnership with Remembering for the Future Community Holocaust Initiative. The collection includes books and DVDs.




Systematic evaluation and weeding of the collection is done at every Jacksonville Public Library location to keep the collection responsive to customers’ needs, to insure its usefulness and vitality, and to make room for new materials. Other considerations include but are not limited to the location’s size, the location’s role in the community and within the Library system, the customers’ interests, and the circulation of the materials.

In most cases, items withdrawn from the collection are given to the Friends of the Jacksonville Public Library, Inc. Donations of withdrawn materials to other organizations must be approved by the Library Director or designee.




The Jacksonville Public Library accepts donations that support and further the mission, goals and objectives of the Library. Donations to the collection in the form of money or actual materials is addressed in the Library’s Donation Policy (updated July 2008).

Donated materials become the property of the Library upon receipt and will be considered for addition to the collection in accordance with the selection and evaluative criteria described above. Donations of these materials to other organizations must be approved by the Library Director or designee.


#Reconsideration of Library Materials


The Library welcomes expression of opinion by customers about the collection or individual titles, but will be governed by this Policy in making additions and deletions.

Customers who request the reconsideration of Library materials will be asked to put their request in writing by completing and signing the Jacksonville Public Library Request for Review of Library Materials.

After review, the Director, or designee, will communicate a decision and the reason for it, in writing, to the customer who initiated the request for reconsideration.

In the event that the customer who initiated the request is not satisfied with the decision, they can present a written appeal of the decision to the Director and the Board of Library Trustees. The Director and the Board of Library Trustees will communicate a decision and the reason for it in writing.

Request for Review of Library Materials


#Appendix A


#American Library Association Policies

#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.

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.

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.

Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

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

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

Libraries that 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.

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

The Jacksonville Public Library also subscribes to the following Interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights:


#Labeling and Rating Systems


Libraries do not advocate the ideas found in their collections or in resources accessible through the library. The presence of books and other resources in a library does not indicate endorsement of their contents by the library. Likewise, providing access to digital information does not indicate endorsement or approval of that information by the library. Labeling and rating systems present distinct challenges to these intellectual freedom principles.

Labels on library materials may be viewpoint-neutral directional aids designed to save the time of users, or they may be attempts to prejudice or discourage users or restrict their access to materials. When labeling is an attempt to prejudice attitudes, it is a censor’s tool. The American Library Association opposes labeling as a means of predisposing people’s attitudes toward library materials.

Prejudicial labels are designed to restrict access, based on a value judgment that the content, language, or themes of the material, or the background or views of the creator(s) of the material, render it inappropriate or offensive for all or certain groups of users. The prejudicial label is used to warn, discourage, or prohibit users or certain groups of users from accessing the material. Such labels sometimes are used to place materials in restricted locations where access depends on staff intervention.

Viewpoint-neutral directional aids facilitate access by making it easier for users to locate materials. The materials are housed on open shelves and are equally accessible to all users, who may choose to consult or ignore the directional aids at their own discretion.

Directional aids can have the effect of prejudicial labels when their implementation becomes proscriptive rather than descriptive. When directional aids are used to forbid access or to suggest moral or doctrinal endorsement, the effect is the same as prejudicial labeling.

Many organizations use rating systems as a means of advising either their members or the general public regarding the organizations’ opinions of the contents and suitability or appropriate age for use of certain books, films, recordings, Web sites, games, or other materials. The adoption, enforcement, or endorsement of any of these rating systems by a library violates the Library Bill of Rights. When requested, librarians should provide information about rating systems equitably, regardless of viewpoint.

Adopting such systems into law or library policy may be unconstitutional. If labeling or rating systems are mandated by law, the library should seek legal advice regarding the law’s applicability to library operations.

Libraries sometimes acquire resources that include ratings as part of their packaging. Librarians should not endorse the inclusion of such rating systems; however, removing or destroying the ratings—if placed there by, or with permission of, the copyright holder—could constitute expurgation (see “ Expurgation of Library Materials: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights”). In addition, the inclusion of ratings on bibliographic records in Library catalogs is a violation of the Library Bill of Rights.

Prejudicial labeling and ratings presuppose the existence of individuals or groups with wisdom to determine by authority what is appropriate or inappropriate for others. They presuppose that individuals must be directed in making up their minds about the ideas they examine. The American Library Association affirms the rights of individuals to form their own opinions about resources they choose to read or view.

Adopted July 13, 1951, by the ALA Council; amended June 25, 1971; July 1, 1981; June 26, 1990; January 19, 2005; July 15, 2009.


#The Freedom to Read


The Jacksonville Public Library also supports the following Freedom to Read statement prepared by the Westchester Conference of the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council:

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


#Freedom to View


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:

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.

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

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.

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


#Free Access to Libraries for Minors


Library policies and procedures that effectively deny minors equal and equitable access to all library resources and services available to other users violate the 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, educational level, literacy skills, or legal emancipation of users violates Article V.

Libraries are charged with the mission of providing services and developing resources to meet the diverse information needs and interests 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 library resources. The needs and interests of each library user, and resources appropriate to meet those needs and interests, must be determined on an individual basis. Librarians cannot predict what resources will best fulfill the needs and interests of any individual user based on a single criterion such as chronological age, educational level, literacy skills, or legal emancipation. Equitable access to all library resources and services shall not be abridged through restrictive scheduling or use policies.

Libraries should not limit the selection and development of library resources simply because minors will have access to them. Institutional self-censorship 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, nonprint, or digital format. 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.1 Librarians and 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 material is not constitutionally protected.

The mission, goals, and objectives of libraries cannot authorize librarians or library 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.” 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. Librarians and governing bodies should maintain 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 children.

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.

See also Access to Resources and Services in the School Library Media Program and Access to Children and Young Adults to Nonprint Materials.

1 See 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).



Adopted June 30, 1972, by the ALA Council; amended July 1, 1981; July 3, 1991; June 30, 2004; July 2, 2008.

Access for Children and Young Adults to Nonprint Materials

Library collections of nonprint 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.

. . . [P]arents—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.

Approved by the Board of Library Trustees, 3/10/2011

Library Board of Trustees approved revisions, July 13, 2017