Library Bill of Rights

Library Meeting Rooms for All

The Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) crafted a revision of the 1991 “Meeting Rooms: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights.” The revision of the interpretation was broadly inclusive and transparent and was adopted by ALA Council. The revision did not establish any new right to conduct hate speech in libraries. ALA does not endorse hate groups and does not seek to normalize hate speech.

Wedding Cake

Wedding cake warning: policies & decisions must be content neutral

Many libraries have meeting rooms or public spaces that can be used for speakers and events, and this case reinforces the importance of making content neutral decisions regarding who can use these spaces and what they can use them for. Decisions that are not content (or viewpoint) neutral risk legal problems for the library. This also highlights the importance of a clearly defined meeting room and events policy, both to guide internal decision making and to allow staff to have clear and specific viewpoint neutral policy-based reasons if they choose to deny a request to use library space. 

Drag queen Deja Brooks is pictured near the entrance of the Lawrence Public Library. Photo via Lawrence Journal World http://www2.ljworld.com/photos/2017/oct/06/319711/

Defend Pride at Your Library

“Beyond merely avoiding the exclusion of materials representing unorthodox or unpopular ideas, libraries should proactively seek to include an abundance of resources and programming representing the greatest possible diversity of genres, ideas, and expressions. A full commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion requires that library collections and programming reflect the broad range of viewpoints and cultures that exist in our world.”

Could Genre-based Classification Limit Intellectual Freedom?

BISAC headings have made their way into public and school libraries as well. A 2013 Knowledge Quest issue on the “Dewey Debate” provides a good intro to the “Dewey or don’t we” debate in school libraries, and many public libraries have made news for their move toward the “bookstore model,” what is often called a more patron-friendly approach than the Dewey Decimal System.

Dove picture made out of repeating the word peace

Why is Intellectual Freedom Important?

Intellectual freedom provides our world with innovation: new technology, cures to diseases, new ways of providing food to starving communities. Intellectual freedom enriches culture. Answering the question, “why is intellectual freedom important” is something I am continuing to explore and think about.