Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Collection Development Objectives
  3. Old Bridge Township Community
  4. Materials Selection Responsibilities
  5. Placement of Material
  6. Methods for Selection
  7. Selection Tools
  8. Standing Orders
  9. Materials Format
  10. Multiple Copies
  11. Gifts and Donations
  12. Evaluation of the Collection
  13. Weeding of Materials
  14. Reconsideration of Library Material

Appendices:

  1. Library Bill of Rights
  2. Freedom to Read Statement
  3. Freedom to View Statement
  4. Free Access to Libraries for Minors
  5. Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials

I. Introduction

The Old Bridge Public Library Board of Trustees has adopted this Collection Development Policy. This Policy will serve as a guideline to the librarians who purchase items for the Library’s collections, and will inform the public about the methods through which materials are collected and maintained. In developing the print and electronic resources that are offered the Library, the Selectors bear in mind the Library’s Mission Statement:

“The Old Bridge Public Library provides a dynamic, professional environment to meet the cultural, educational, and recreational needs of our community.”

To fulfill its mission, the Old Bridge Public Library obtains and provides its community with resources that educate, entertain, and enrich individuals. Because it is impossible to acquire all print and electronic materials, every library must practice some selectivity in its collection development. The regulations which govern the acquisitions system at the Old Bridge Public Library are outlined in this policy.

The Library houses a general collection of reliable materials encompassing broad areas of knowledge. Resources of enduring value and items addressing current issues are included. Working within the context of these broad objectives, the Selectors consider community demographics and evidence of areas of interest.

When developing the collections of the Old Bridge Public Library, the Selectors consider the resources of other local organizations and information centers. Many of these items may be obtained through Interlibrary Loan. In addition, information may be obtained through Electronic Databases and the Internet.

All collection development tasks will be performed with objective and discerning judgment. Each area of the collection will be allocated a portion of the Library’s material budget. Usage indicators, cost per item, and the principles outlined in this policy will determine the amount of funds and the number of items purchased for each section. Because the interests and needs of the community may change, as well as budget, the Collection Development Committee re-assesses this allocation on an annual basis. Therefore, the amount of funds given to a particular portion of the collection may change for each fiscal year.

The Library supports the individual’s right to access ideas and information representing all points of view. Patron suggestions are welcomed and appreciated. The Old Bridge Public Library Board of Trustees has adopted the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read Statement, the Freedom to View Statement and the Free Access to Libraries for Minors Statement. These Statements, which are attached, are incorporated into and made a part of this Collection Development Policy.

II. Collection Development Objectives

  • To encourage lifelong learning by providing information and recreation materials on a broad range of topics to people of all ages.
  • To provide resources that meet the customers’ interests and needs in a timely manner.
  • To ensure that each subject area contains materials that are current, accurate and produced by reliable sources.
  • To strive to provide a balance of viewpoints on all subjects.
  • To avoid duplication of resources while ensuring wide coverage of topics.
  • To actively participate in LMXaC the regional consortium which permits reciprocal borrowing among cardholders of the Old Bridge Public Library and those of other local libraries.
  • To actively participate in the New Jersey’s Interlibrary Loan program which makes it possible to share resources with other libraries, as well as MURAL, the Middlesex Union Reciprocal Agreement Libraries.

III. The Old Bridge Township Community

Old Bridge is a large, sprawling, suburban township located in central New Jersey. The community is accessible to major highways that lead to New York, Philadelphia and Delaware. Educational institutions such as Rutgers University and Middlesex County College are located nearby. The residents of Old Bridge vary in age, ethnic background, and in educational and economic levels.

Old Bridge has several distinct sections: Cheesequake, Laurence Harbor, Browntown, South Old Bridge, etc. Each area is unique in its demographics. In developing the Library’s collections, the Selectors consider the different interests and needs of each community.

The Old Bridge Public Library consists of a large Main Library and a smaller Branch that is located in the Laurence Harbor section of the Township. Due to the diversity in culture, economics, and location, the Old Bridge Public Library provides different levels and quantities of material. Other local libraries are available to provide additional services to the community. Customers from other townships are encouraged to use the resources of the Old Bridge Public Library.

The collections of the Old Bridge Public Library strive to meet the educational and recreational needs of the customers. It is the responsibility of the Director and the Selectors to provide a full range of resources to ensure that these needs are met. Materials addressing these needs will be purchased and/or provided to the patron through the statewide interlibrary loan system.                                                                

IV. Materials Selection Responsibilities

The Director, the Adult Services Librarians and the Youth Services Librarians work together to develop policies and procedures for collection development. It is the responsibility of the Selectors to ensure that appropriate materials are purchased for the Library; in doing so, they make certain that their choices reflect the Collection Development Policy of the Old Bridge Public Library. In addition to purchasing items, the Selectors weed the collection to keep them current with need and demand, ensure that items are in good physical condition and spend their budgets in a timely and organized manner.

V. Placement of Material

Several factors determine the placement of material at the Old Bridge Public Library. Dewey Decimal Classification, which divides material by subject, is used to arrange the various collections. Staff members in the Acquisitions Department use the Dewey Decimal Classification and the Library of Congress subject headings to determine the location of the items in the Library. Material are classified under broad headings, such as “Adult Fiction”, “Juvenile Nonfiction”, “Young Adult Fiction”, “Mystery”, and “Reference”. Items within the nonfiction collections are further divided by subject. Professional reviews recommending age appropriateness of material aid Librarians in selecting and placing material.

All of the Library’s collections are available to customers of all ages. The location of items in a collection is determined by the classification scheme, professional reviews, and the Librarians’ expertise. It is the responsibility of the parents, not the Library staff, to monitor Library use by children.

VI. Methods for Selection

Selection is a discerning and interpretive process that involves a general knowledge of the topic and an understanding of the community’s needs. Selectors judge an item on the content and style of the work as a whole, not by particular passages. The criteria for selection include, but are not limited to: popular interest, currency of information, appropriateness of the item for the collection, number of other materials owned in that subject area, literary merit, enduring value, accuracy, authoritativeness, contemporary significance, patron request, cost and availability in other local public libraries. Quality and suitability of the format are also considered. Selectors should choose material that will build a well-rounded collection; which includes varying viewpoints and opinions that will meet supplementary study needs.

VII. Selection Tools

The Librarians consult a number of resources in selecting items for the collection. These resources include, but are not limited to: professional journals, trade publications, reputable Internet sites, subject bibliographies and publishers’ promotional material. The Library staff welcomes suggestions from customers; these requests provide Librarians with useful information about interests or needs that may not be adequately met by the collection. Librarians will use the decision-making process described above when considering whether to purchase items suggested by patrons.

VIII. Standing Orders

Items that are updated annually or every few years are placed on standing order so that the new editions are automatically received by the Library. The list of these materials is reviewed by the Selectors on a periodic basis.

IX. Materials Format

Materials are purchased in the most appropriate format for Library use. It is the responsibility of the Old Bridge Public Library to meet the varied needs and interests of a broad public audience. Therefore, the Library does not purchase textbooks and other scholarly material.

The majority of the resources that are housed within the Old Bridge Public Library are unabridged or complete in their entirety. However, the Library does also collect abridged and/or edited versions of some materials. When deciding whether to purchase an item in an abridged or unabridged format, Selectors consider factors such as patron requests and the materials budget.

The Library collects and maintains books-on-CD and Playaways. These collections contain abridged and unabridged items. The Library also provides access to ebooks and eaudio materials through various sources such as eLibraryNJ, OneClickDigital and iBistro.

The Library subscribes to current periodicals. Magazines are selected according to their suitability for the widest possible audience. Therefore, the Library does not purchase academic journals, although some articles from such publications may be obtained through online databases. The Library also subscribes to several local and national newspapers.

Videos and DVDs purchased for the Library included feature films, documentaries, classical movies, and children’s stories. The Library also houses collections of CD-ROMs and musical CDs.

The Library has several special collections. A “New Jersey” collection, an English as a Second Language collection and several non-English language collections, Braille materials for children, and local school textbooks (donated by the Old Bridge Township Board of Education) are available.

Collections in foreign languages may be established provided there is adequate evidence of community need, support for cataloging, and collection development.

Selectors will consider adding materials in new formats. Survey results, patron suggestions, and industry reports will be used to determine this. In addition, the Selectors will advise on the availability of materials in the format, the cost per item, and the Library’s ability to obtain and store the items. These considerations will also influence the decision to delete a format from the Library’s collection.

X. Multiple Copies

Although the Library does not have the budget to buy multiple copies of every title, it does purchase multiple copies of titles having high customer demand. The numbers of copies of a particular title that are purchased, and the format in which it is ordered, are determined by the individual Selector. When there are three or more holds per copy of a title, additional copies may be purchased. In subject areas such as cookbooks and computer tutorials where the interest is in the topic rather than in a particular title, the Library prefers to buy one or two copies of several different titles rather than numerous copies of one title. Through this approach, the Library offers a variety, depth, breadth, and relevance to the needs of the community.

XI. Gift and Donations

Gifts of materials are accepted by the Friends of the Library with the understanding that they will be considered for addition to the collection in accordance with the Collection Development Policy. If materials are not placed in the Library’s collection, they may be placed in the Friends’ ongoing or annual book sale. Materials that are in poor condition may be disposed of in other ways. Items will not be held for specific individuals.

If the title is already in the collection, it will be added only if it in good condition, if a duplicate is needed, if copies need replacement and/or if the title has not been superseded.

If the title is not in the collection, it will be evaluated according to the following factors: physical condition, currency and reliability of information, historical value and local interest. In general, collections of materials which necessitate special housing or which prevent integration of the items into the general collections cannot be accepted.

Special gifts may be recognized with a bookplate at the discretion of the Library.

The Old Bridge Public Library will not assign a value to any gift material. The Library will, however, provide a receipt for the number of books, DVDs magazines and other materials donated.

Gifts of funds are always welcomed and appreciated. Recommendations from the donor are honored so far as the suggestions are in accordance with the Collection Development Policy.

Because the goal of the Library is to acquire current materials on a variety of subjects, the Library does not serve as a repository for out-of-print books. Items that are selected for inclusion in the collection are judged on factors such as merit and value. In deciding whether to add an item to the collection, the Selector will determine what other materials on the subject the Library owns and how this new title is needed. If it is accepted, it will be added to the collection and treated as any other item. If it is lost or damaged, the Selector will decide whether it should be replaced. If the book is not added to the collection, it may be given to the Friends of the Library to place in its book sale. The Library will not establish a “Rare Book Room”.

XII. Evaluation of the Collection

To be certain that the Library is fulfilling its mission to provide current, accurate, and reliable materials to the public, the Selectors must continuously evaluate the collection. Resources such as circulation reports, material turnover rates, fill rates, volume counts, customer requests, and community surveys are studied to determine how the collection is being used and how it should change to meet customers’ needs. The collection is checked against standard bibliographic tools, subject specialty catalogs and online resources. Selectors examine the physical condition and frequency of use of items in the collection. Through ongoing quantitative and qualitative methods, the Director and the Selectors monitor the collection to ensure that it is serving the public.

XIII. Weeding of Materials

The Collection Development Policy serves as a guide for weeding and maintaining the collection as well as for the selection of material. Librarians may remove titles from the collection through systematic weeding or because items have been damaged. Material that has been lost or damaged may be replaced using the same criteria as for selection. Other factors which Selectors must consider when deciding whether to discard an item include the number of copies of a title that the Library owns, the last circulation date, the availability of newer material on the subject, the importance of the work in its field and its cost.

Systematic weeding of the collection is required of every Selector. This process enables the Library to serve customers’ needs, to ensure the currency and accuracy of the collection and to create space for newer material. Weeding identifies damaged items, obsolete sources, ephemeral material that is no longer used and extra copies which are not in circulation. Weeding also enables the Selector to evaluate the collection by identifying areas where additional material is needed, older editions that need to be updated; and subjects, titles, or authors that are no longer of interest to the community.

XIV. Reconsideration of Library Material

The Old Bridge Public Library endorses and adopts as part of this Policy, the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, The Freedom to Read Statement, The Freedom to View Statement and the Access to Library Resources and Services for Minors

Copies of these documents are included in the Appendix.

It is the mission of the Old Bridge Public Library to provide information on a broad range of topics to people of all ages. To fulfill this obligation, the Library collects material reflecting different points of view. The Library does not endorse particular beliefs, ideas, or viewpoints; the selection of an item does not imply endorsements of the viewpoints of the author. Materials will not be sequestered on the basis of their contents.

Customers are encouraged to express their opinions of the contents of the Library’s collection. These recommendations often provide Librarians with information about areas of the collection that may not adequately fulfill the needs of the community. Although the Library welcomes the suggestions of its users, it will be governed by the Collection Development Policy when deciding whether to add or delete an item from the collection.

Customers who request the reconsideration of library material must complete and sign the Request for Reconsideration of Library Material form. A copy of this document is included in the Appendix. Provided that this form includes the name and telephone number of the individual(s) making the request, it will be forwarded to the Library Director.

Upon receipt of a formal written request, the Director will obtain information from the Library staff regarding the decision for ordering the material in question. In order to understand the importance of the item to the subject area, the Director may consult with outside professionals in the field.

After studying this information provided by the Selector(s), the Director will respond in writing to the person who initiated the request for reconsideration. The Director will inform the Board of Library Trustees of all requests for reconsideration of Library material and disposition of their requests.

In the event that the person(s) who initiated the request is not satisfied with the decision of the Director, he/she may request a meeting before the Board of Library Trustees by making a written request to the Board President. Upon receipt of the request, the Board may place the issue on its agenda. The person(s) who initiated the request will be notified of the time and place of the Board meeting. The Board of Library Trustees reserves the right to limit the length of presentation and the number of speakers at the meeting.

After hearing from the person(s) making the reconsideration request, the Board will determine whether the request has been handled in accordance with the stated policies and procedures of the Old Bridge Public Library. It will consider the information provided by Library staff, the position of the customer(s) and the decision of the Director.

APPENDIX I.

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.

  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.

Adopted June 18, 1948
Amended February 2, 1961 and January 23, 1980
inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996
by the ALA Council.

APPENDIX II.

THE FREEDOM TO READ STATEMENT

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:

  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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

A joint statement by:
American Library Association
Association of American Publishers

Subsequently endorsed by:
American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
The Association of American University Presses, Inc.
The Children’s Book Council
Freedom to Read Foundation
National Association of College Stores
National Coalition Against Censorship
National Council of Teachers of English
The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression

Appendix III: Freedom to View Statement

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 expression. Therefore these principles are affirmed:

  1. 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 guarantees of freedom of expression.
  2. To protect the confidentiality of all individuals and institutions using film, video, and other audiovisual materials.
  3. To provide film, video, and other audiovisual materials which represent a diversity of views and expressions. 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 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.
  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.

Endorsed by the ALA Council January 10, 1990

Appendix V: Access to Library Resources and Services for Minors

(formerly titled “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 American Library Association’s 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, sound, images, data, games, software, and other formats.1 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.2 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 or not content is 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.

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, or format. This principle of library service applies equally to all users, minors as well as adults. Lack of access to information can be harmful to minors. Librarians and library governing bodies must uphold this principle in order to provide adequate and effective service to minors.

Note:

  1. See Brown v. Entertainment Merchant’s Association, et al. 564 U.S. 08-1448 (2011): a) Video games qualify for First Amendment protection.  Like protected books, plays, and  movies, they communicate ideas through familiar literary devices and features distinctive to the medium..  And ‘the basic principles of freedom of speech . . . do not vary’ with a new and different communication medium.”
  2. 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 under previous name “Free Access to Libraries for Minors”; and July 1, 2014.

 

Appendix V: Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials

It is the mission of the Old Bridge Public Library to serve all residents of our community. As a public library, we serve people from all walks of life and with a variety of backgrounds, viewpoints and tastes. Materials for the informational, educational and recreational needs of members of the community are selected by librarians to meet these diverse needs. The Library Board of Trustees has adopted a Collection Development Policy, the American Library Association Bill of Rights, the ALA Freedom to Read and the ALA Freedom to View statements. The right to read and view is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America and is central to a democratic society. The Old Bridge Public Library supports the belief that the right to read and the right to free access to library collections for persons of all ages are essential to all individuals’ freedom of thought.

Request for Reconsideration form (PDF)

Approved by the Library Board of Trustees: October 14, 2015