OIF Offers Assistance to Libraries Receiving ADF Letters on Meeting Room Policies

Intellectual Freedom Issues, Office for Intellectual Freedom

The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a Christian legal organization, has initiated a letter-writing campaign to libraries and schools around the country. The campaign targets libraries with meeting room policies that restrict the use of the library’s meeting rooms for religious services. In its letter, ADF advises libraries receiving the letter that it believes the library’s meeting room policy is unconstitutional and that ADF will initiate legal action if the library does not change its policy.

Because ADF states that it intends to take legal action against the library if it does not change its policy, we strongly advise libraries that receive this letter to communicate with ADF only through legal counsel, and only after legal counsel has reviewed the letter, the library’s mission statement, and the library’s policies. Any communication with ADF could be used as evidence in a lawsuit, should ADF choose to initiate legal action against the library.

OIF is ready to advise and assist librarians and library trustees with questions about meeting room policies and the ADF’s letter. We can provide copies of model meeting room policies, information about court opinions addressing library meeting room policies, and advice on reviewing and revising meeting room policies in light of recommended best practices. In addition, if a library wishes to consult legal counsel, OIF can assist in arranging a referral to an attorney.

Librarians and library trustees who want to speak to OIF about their meeting room policies and/or the ADF letter should call or write Deborah Caldwell-Stone, OIF’s Deputy Director. She can be reached at 800-545-2433 x4224, or dstone@ala.org.

For more information on religion and public libraries, please consult “Religion in American Libraries, a Q & A,” a new document by the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee.