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Seymour Public Library Policies

Seymour Public Library

Patron Behavior Policy


To ensure appropriate use of the library, its grounds, and its resources as well as the personal comfort and public safety of all library patrons, the following code of conduct has been established by the Seymour Public Library Board of Directors.

  1. Patrons shall be engaged in activities associated with the use of the public library while in the library.
  2. Personal items may not be left unattended on Library property for any reason. Any such items may be removed by Library Staff and relocated at the Staff’s discretion. The Library is not responsible for any loss of personal items or information left on Library property.
  3. Smoking and/or vaping is not permitted in the building.
  4. Capped beverages may be brought into the Library.
  5. Patrons are responsible for properly disposing of or taking with them any items brought into the building upon leaving the building.
  6. Parents or legal guardians are responsible for the behavior of their children while in the library. In accordance with Ct General Statutes, children under the age of 12 may not be left unsupervised in the library. The guardian or family member supervising the child that is under the age of 12 must be at least 16 years of age.

Sec. 53-21a. Leaving a child unsupervised in place of public accommodation or motor vehicle. Failure to report disappearance of a child.

  1. Creating disturbances will not be allowed in the library whether through excessive noise, running, loud talking, audio device, or another medium and/or disruptive behavior.
  2. Patrons will refrain from exhibiting any threatening or intimidating behaviors, e.g., profanity or abusive language, threats of violence or harassment of any nature, behavior considered potentially unsafe or harmful to self or others.
  3. All animals, other than identified service animals, must remain outside of the library.
  1. Shoes and shirts must be worn at all times.
  2. Sleeping, soliciting, littering, or loitering is not allowed in the library.
  3. Photographing, filming, and audio recording of Library patrons, Library staff, and Library interior or programs without prior approval of the Library Management is prohibited.
  4. Defacing, damaging, vandalizing or misuse of library resources, equipment, or property is prohibited.
  5. Theft of library resources, equipment, or property may result in arrest or prosecution.
  6. Threatening, harassing, endangering, or physically harming library staff or patrons is prohibited. If it occurs, patrons are asked to notify staff.


The Seymour Public Library staff has been authorized to administer the Patron Behavior Policy and, if needed, pending approval of the Library Supervisor, may modify and/or adapt the Patron Behavior Policy to special circumstances. Users who do not comply with the Patron Behavior Policy or any reasonable request of the staff may be asked by Library Management to leave the Library premises and may ultimately loose library privileges through a range of actions. Continued or extreme willful noncompliance may result in action ranging from suspension or termination of Library privileges to prohibiting access to the Library premises. Illegal actions or egregious behavior will be reported to the police.


When a patron’s use of the library is suspended or terminated, a report of the incident and the suspension will be given in writing to the Library Board of Directors.  The patron does have the right to appeal this decision.


Any patron who feels that he or she has lost their privileges unfairly shall submit a written report of the incident and treatment to the President of the Library Board within seven (7) business days after the notification of loss of privileges. The President of the Library Board will review the report in a meeting with the Library Board and the Library Director. The Patron will be notified of the outcome within three (3) days after said meeting. During the time of any appeal process, the suspension will remain in effect.


The Seymour Public Library Board of Directors reserves the right to amend this policy as it deems appropriate and in response to changing conditions.


Approved SPL Board of Directors 6/18/2015

Amended SPL Board of Directors 12/17/2015

Amended SPL Board of Directors 9/21/2020

Amended SPL Board of Directors 5/19/22


Internet Policy

Seymour Public Library is committed to providing access to informational, educational, recreational, and cultural resources for all library users. The Library provides access to the Internet through library computers connected to the Internet, and through wireless Internet access during open library hours.

Please be aware that the Library's wireless networks are offered as unsecure wireless networks.  Users should use wireless access accordingly.

The library’s computers are available for use on a “first-come-first-served” basis. Patrons access the Library Public computers through their library bar code. If a patron doesn’t have a bar code one can be obtained at the circulation desk for a one day internet use. Computer sessions are limited to 120 minutes ( 2 hrs.) per day.

All online resources at the Library are provided equally to all library users.  Availability may not always match demand. The Library reserves the right to end an Internet session when time limits are exceeded, when the Library is closing, and/or to designate computer terminals for specific purposes. If patron behavior when using the Internet becomes inappropriate for a library setting, the library reserves the right to end a patron's session.

Patrons should be aware that electronic communications and files could become public.  The Library adheres to ALA policies and state and federal laws. However, due to the nature of the Internet, all users who release personal information, including personal identifying information, credit card or bank account numbers etc. do so at their own risk.  The library will not be responsible for loss or damage resulting to a user from (such) a breach of privacy or confidentiality.

The Library has no control over the information accessed on the Internet, nor can the library guarantee that the information accessed is accurate, complete, correct or appropriate. The Library expressly disclaims any liability or responsibility arising from access to or use of information obtained through its electronic information systems, or any consequences thereof.

Parents/guardians, not the library, are responsible for information accessed by their children. Parents/guardian are strongly advised to supervise their children’s sessions as the library does not filter or screen the Internet sites. In accordance with library policy, Children under the age of twelve must have a parent/guardian accompanying them. Parents/Guardians of children under the age of 12 must sign an internet waiver permission slip if they wish their children to use the SPL Computers.

Computers in the children’s room of the SPL are specifically for the use of patrons under the age of 18.

Downloading and sharing protected material is a violation of the federal Copyright Act of 1976. Library computers cannot be used to conduct illegal file sharing. Protected materials may include text, photographs, songs, movies, graphic illustrations and other computer software. If inappropriate activity is detected the Seymour Public Library reserves the right to enforce corrective actions.

Computer users may not install or download software programs or files onto the library computer’s hard drive.  Users are not to attempt to breach the library’s computer security systems or attempt to access the hard drive, other files, networks, or computer systems of the library.

The user, regardless of age, is responsible for any damage to Library computers.

Library computers may be used for lawful purposes only.  Computer and/or Internet sessions or privileges will be suspended or revoked if use is not in keeping with this policy.  Illegal acts involving the library’s computers may be subject to criminal prosecution.

Printing information from the computers is permitted at a cost established by the library.

The Library Board of Directors reserves the right to amend this policy as it deems appropriate and in response to changing conditions.

Approved by Seymour Public Library Board of Directors 6/02/2015

Internet Waiver Permission Slip for Underage Patrons


The Seymour Public Library is committed to providing the best possible service to all of our patrons. The Internet is a resource that offers unlimited global access to information. The library staff is unable to and will not monitor or control the content, accuracy, completeness, or type of information available through this medium. Parents/guardian are strongly advised to supervise their children’s sessions as the library does not filter or screen the Internet sites. In accordance with library policy, Children under the age of twelve must have a parent/guardian accompanying them. Parents or guardians of children under the age of twelve (12) are responsible for their children’s use of the Internet.

Child’s Name (please print) _______________________________________________________

Child’s Date of Birth ______________________________________________________

I, the parent or guardian of the above-named child under the age of twelve (12), have read the above information and SPL’s attached policy and give permission for my child or ward to access the Internet at Seymour Public Library. I am further aware that if the Library’s rules governing Internet use are not followed, Library internet privileges may be suspended or revoked.

Parent/Guardian’s Signature _______________________________________________________

Parent/Guardian’s Telephone Number _______________________________________________

Date __________________________________________________________________________



Verification by Staff Member ___________________________________________________________

Date _______________________________________________________________________

The Library Board of Directors reserves the right to amend this policy as it deems appropriate and in response to changing conditions.

Approved by the Seymour Public Library Board of Directors 6/02/2015

Policy for Unattended Children After Hours

Parents and guardians are expected to be aware of the closing times of the library, bearing in mind that these can and do change. Power failures can occur and require unexpected evacuations. Children left alone on library grounds could be vulnerable. Every effort will be made to contact parents or guardians prior to closing.

If the child is left unattended at the library after closing time, when possible, two staff members will remain with the child for fifteen minutes. During this time, every effort will be made to contact the parents or guardians. Parents or guardians must show identification and sign a waiver form before children will be released to them. If fifteen minutes elapses and the child has not been picked up, the police will be called. Library staff, under no circumstances, will offer to drive the child home. In accordance with Connecticut State Law, children under the age of 12 must have a parent, responsible family member or caregiver over the age of 16 available in the building while the child is using the library.

Policy Governing Use of Library Meeting Room

The Library has a large meeting room available, as a community service to non-profit Seymour civic groups.  Due to the volume of library programs, rooms cannot be booked more than three months (90 days) in advance.  Approved groups are welcome to use the library’s facilities subject to the following conditions:

  1. Library sponsored programs take precedence over all community use of library facilities.
  2. Food and Drink are generally not allowed in the meeting rooms but special permission may be granted upon application.
  3. FEES:

A non-refundable fee of $25.00 for each use of the Larger meeting room.

 **The fee may be waived by the Library Board of Directors by petitioning the Board at their regularly scheduled Board Meeting. Please speak to Library Management about this.

  1. A. Groups must be non-profit. A Certificate of Liability Insurance that names the Seymour Public Library as an additional name insured for the function is necessary to book a room.
  2. Admission fees, sales and or/solicitations will not be permitted; however, authors presenting a program may offer their books for sale & signing.
  3. The rooms are not available for private parties or social gatherings. Alcohol is not permitted on the premises.
  4.   Maximum capacity, per Seymour Fire Marshal, must be adhered to at all times as must all Fire Marshal dictates and fire codes.

                 Smoking is prohibited in the building.

                 Large meeting room: 82 capacity with tables and chairs are present, 175 capacity with chairs only

               Groups may not remain in the library after closing.

Meetings (or activities) may start as early as 9:30 a.m. Tuesday- Friday and 10:00 a.m. on Saturday

(except July and August when the library is closed on Saturday).

All activities must be over and the group vacates the room by 7:45 p.m. Tuesday & Wednesday, and 4:45 p.m. Thursday & Friday and 3:45 p.m. on Saturday.

All meeting room groups are expected to exercise care in the use of the Library’s facilities and property. Rooms are expected to be left clean and in good condition upon exit. If necessary, the group that booked the room will assume financial liability for loss resulting from their use or for any excess time expended by Library personnel on the cleaning of the room.

  1.   The Library is not responsible for equipment, materials, supplies, etc. owned by a group or individual and used in the meeting rooms or stored there before or after the meeting.
  2.   An officially designated representative of the group/organization must complete the attached meeting room application and their signature will indicate they have read and understood the policies governing the use of the Seymour Public Library meeting rooms.
  3. The Library Director (or other designated personnel) will assign available rooms according to group size, space needs or other logistic requirements based on demand and existing conditions. Be it noted that the library cannot guarantee on-going use of any specific room/equipment to groups/organizations that meet on a regular basis.
  4. The Library reserves the right to suspend or cancel meeting room privileges to any individual, group, or organization that fails to comply with the above stated policies.
  5. For safety reasons and as a courtesy to others conducting meetings or programs, children should not be left unattended or allowed to access the restrooms or water fountains without adult supervision.

The Library Board reserves the right to amend this policy as it deems appropriate and in response to changing conditions.

Adopted by the Library Board of Director, April 24, 1984

Revised March 16, 1989, September 17, 1992, December 15, 1994, October 16, 1997, June 19, 2003, April 18, 2013

Updated December 15, 2016 by the Seymour Public Library Board of Directors

Meeting Room Application

Seymour Public Library
46 Church ST
Seymour, CT  06483

 Meeting Room Application


Today’s Date:_______________________ (not to be in excess of 90 days from desired date)


Name of Organization/Group: ___________________________________


Address: __________________________                  Phone: _________________________


Name of Applicant: _______________________       Phone: _________________________


Notify: Applicant_____________   Group_________________ of approval.


Requested Date(s):__________________________________


Requested Time(s): __________________________________


How many people will attend? _______________________


Please indicate if preference in meeting rooms (large or small) here:__________


Please indicate items needed and desired amount:






Please note that though the library can provide chairs and tables, groups are responsible for their own set up and break down.



I have received a copy of Seymour Public Library governing use of the Meeting Rooms and understand that, once signed, this signifies my organization agrees to abide by the conditions specified therein.


Signature of Authorized Representative: ______________________________

Please note that submitting this request does not guarantee the use or availability of the room.



Library Use Only: Received By ________________________ Date: ______________

Forwarded To Library Director’s Office (Date): __________________

Approved___________ Disapproved________________ On _________________

Notified Above On________________

Fee: _____________   Received:_________________



Checks should be made out to “The Seymour Public Library”.

Seymour Public Library is not responsible for advertising this event.

Certificate of Insurance must be submitted and Fee must be paid prior to use of the room.


The library will accept books and other materials as donations or gifts from the public. Books that are donated must be in resalable condition.  Books that have mold or mildew will not be accepted for donation. The library cannot appraise said gifts or donations for tax purposes. Depending on the nature and condition, materials worthwhile and of informational or recreational value, will be kept for incorporation into the library's collection. Items which cannot be used will be sold or permanently withdrawn. Please call before bringing your used books to the library as our storage space is limited.

Material Selection Policy

  1. Purpose of Policy
    The Materials Selection Policy of the Seymour Public Library has been formulated to serve as a document for the Library Director and Board of Directors in the selection of library materials, and to inform the public clearly as to the principles upon which selections of library materials are made.
  2. Statement on Intellectual Freedom
    The Seymour Public Library subscribes to the Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read Statement, and the related supportive documents of the American Library Association, which affirms, among other principles, its belief in the following basic policies:
    1. As a responsibility of library service, books and other library materials selected should be chosen for values of interest, information and enlightenment of all the people of the community. In no case should library materials be excluded because of the race, gender, nationality, social, political, or religious views of the authors.
    2. Libraries have a responsibility to provide books and other materials presenting several diverse points of view concerning the problems and issues of our time. No library materials should be proscribed or removed from libraries because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
    3. Censorship should be challenged by Libraries in the maintenance of their responsibility to provide public information and enlightenment.
    4. The rights of an individual to the use of a library should not be denied or abridged because of age, race, gender, religion, national origins, or social or political views.

Copies of the Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read Statement, and other pertinent documents can be found in the appendix of this policy statement.

III. The Library’s Service and Collection Goals
The purpose of the Seymour Public Library is to provide free library service on an equal basis to all residents of the Town of Seymour, as well as, to library card holders from other communities throughout Connecticut under the deliverIT CT program. The Library seeks to provide such service to the best of its ability with the means available, and to increase those means whenever possible.

In order to provide useful and high-quality library service, the library acquires, organizes, and makes available materials for the educational, informational, cultural, and recreational needs of the community as determined by the Board of Library Directors and the Head Librarian. Such materials typically include, but are not limited to, books, magazines, newspapers, audio recordings, video, downloadable audio and eBooks and online databases, i.e. Consumer Reports online.

  1. Responsibility for Selection of Materials
    Final responsibility for selecting new books and other library materials lies with the Library Director, who may delegate, to such staff members as are deemed qualified by reason of education and/or experience, authority to make selections in designated areas. Should there be community concern about specific items in the library collections, this should be brought to the Library Director for resolution. The Library Director will confer with the Library Board of Directors referencing the American Library Association Bill of Rights.

All materials etc. selections should be made in conformity with the principles and criteria set forth in this policy statement.

  1. Selection Sources
    Sources from which library materials will be selected for purchase include, but are not limited to, the following:
    1. Current review journals (Library Journal, School Library Journal, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, etc.).
    2. Newspaper review columns.
    3. Bibliographies/Biographies.
    4. Bookstores (First: local stores Second: national stores).
    5. Book salespersons.
    6. Displays at library meetings
    7. Publisher catalogs and announcements.
    8. Demonstrated usage of existing materials.
    9. Online resources.
  2. Criteria for Selection
    The selection of books and other library materials, whether acquired by purchase or gift, will be based on the following criteria:
    1. The appropriateness of the material in relation to the interests and needs of the Library’s users and of the community as a whole.
    2. The value of the material for educational, informational, cultural, and recreational purposes.
    3. The timeliness of information.
    4. The contribution of the material toward strengthening the existing collection or expanding its scope.
    5. The accuracy, authoritativeness, and competence of presentation.
    6. Requests from individuals to which the above criteria can be applied.
    7. The permanent value of the material based on literary or scholarly excellence and other inherent qualities, considered without regard to demand.
    8. Budgetary limitations.

It is the goal of the Library to build a balanced collection characterized by materials of current popular interest as well as materials of permanent worth. While popular demand is a significant basis for selection, it must be borne in mind that many great works of scholarship and literature are keystones of modern knowledge and culture but may not necessarily be high-demand items. It is Library policy to select, along with popular-demand items, materials of permanent value.

Textbooks will not be considered for purchase unless such items constitute the best available source of information in a subject. Such materials must serve the general public and the adult learning community in order to be considered.

Every attempt will be made through the Bibliomation Network or other equivalent resource to procure as many copies of title as possible for student projects or community activities. However, multiple copies cannot be purchased in response to student academic projects or related work, which the school curriculum should properly be expected to meet.

It is not the Library’s policy automatically to replace every item when lost or worn out. Need for replacement is weighed in relation to the number of duplicate copies already owned; existence of adequate coverage in the subject field; other similar materials in the collection; and the demand for the specific author, title or subject. It is often more desirable to purchase more up-to-date materials than to continue replacing older ones.

VII. Materials for Children and Young Adults
The children’s collection contains materials most suited to the abilities and interests of library users between the ages of pre-school and eleven, while young adult materials are those most suited to the abilities and interests of library users between the ages of twelve and fifteen.

Both children’s and young adult materials are selected with the same care and judgment, and following the same criteria, as are adult materials. Also like adult materials, they will be as varied in format, content, reading level, etc., as possible within existing budgetary limitations.

It is the Library’s policy to allow children and young adults free access to the adult collection for the use of advanced materials for personal and educational enrichment.

The Library recognizes and accepts the role of the parent or legal guardian in supervising the reading material of their child. The Library staff cannot be expected to know the content of every book in the Library or to supervise the reading of every young person who uses the Library. The staff is not in a position to judge parental concern and control of reading materials for juvenile users.

Selection of library materials for the wider community cannot be inhibited by the possibility that specific items of an advanced nature may come into the possession of children.

VIII. Censorship
The Library has a responsibility to provide books and other materials presenting several diverse points of view concerning the problems and issues of our time. It must, therefore, be understood clearly that ownership of library material does not in any way constitute an endorsement by the Library of the ideas or viewpoints expressed therein.

Selections of library materials are not made on the basis of any anticipated approval or disapproval by specific individuals or groups, but solely on the merits of the works in relation to building the collection and serving the needs of library users and the community as a whole. While the Library is aware that one or more persons may take issue with the selection of specific items, the Library does not have to remove from the collection items purchased in accordance with the criteria specified above. Nor will library materials be marked in such a way as to show approval or disapproval, and all materials will stand on open shelves, except to protect specific items from damage or theft or as a result of other unavoidable physical restrictions (materials placed on reserve, lack of sufficient shelf space necessitating basement storage, etc.).

  1. Weeding and Withdrawing
    Weeding is important to maintenance of a good library collection and should be performed with the same careful thought and judgment as is selection.

To keep the collection up-to-date and useful, materials should be re-evaluated at regular intervals, with decisions made as to whether to withdraw, repair, rebind, or replace. Materials that should be withdrawn include the following:
1. Those proven to be unused over significant periods of time, as defined in accepted professional standards.
2. Those known to be dated and no longer accurate.
3. Those too badly damaged, worn, soiled, etc. to be repaired or rebound, unless unique.
4. Those with unattractive formats (small print, yellowed paper, etc.), unless the contents are unique or irreplaceable.

Final responsibility for re-evaluating the library collection and making decisions to withdraw, repair, rebind, or replace lies with the Library Director, who may delegate, to such staff members as are deemed qualified by reason of education and/or experience, authority to re-evaluate designated areas. Items removed from the collection, if in suitable condition, may be distributed to the community for free provided this is accomplished in a fair and equitable manner.
Unusual problems are to be referred to the Library Director for resolution.

  1. Gifts
    As a rule, the Library will accept gifts without commitment as to final disposition, as follows:
    1. If the material is already in the collection, it will be added only if it is in good condition, if a duplicate is needed, if existing copies need replacement, and if the material has not been superseded.
    2. If the material is not already in the collection, it will be evaluated following the criteria specified in Section VI above. Currency and reliability of information, adequacy of the library collection in the subject field or the author’s work, historical value, local interest, and physical condition all must be considered before expending the time and money to add gifts to the collection.
    3. Gifts not needed, if in good condition and of the proper type, will be offered to other libraries or institutions.
    4. Gifts not usable in the library collection or elsewhere will be sold, disposed of, or placed in the Library’s book sale.
    5. Generally, collections of materials will not be accepted with donor restrictions or conditions which necessitate special housing or which prevent integration of the gift into the general library collection with like materials.
    6. Gift materials will be subject to the same standards of classification, cataloging, circulation, weeding, and withdrawal as are purchased materials.
    7. Librarians are not professional appraisers, and the Library cannot provide dollar valuations for gift materials received. The Library will provide the donor with a statement showing the number of items and type of material accepted.
    8. The Library welcomes gifts and bequests of money made by individuals or groups for the purchase of library materials. Such gifts may be restricted to the acquisition of specific types of materials, provided they conform to the criteria specified in Sections VI and VII above. Otherwise, choice of materials purchased with these monies will be determined by the Head Librarian, in conformity with this policy.
  2. Local History and Genealogy
    A collection of useful materials pertaining to the history and genealogy of Seymour, the Naugatuck River Valley, New Haven County, and the State of Connecticut will be maintained. Materials such as books and manuscripts can be accommodated. Artifacts or other items which, in the judgment of the Library Director, the Library is unable to care for will be referred to the Seymour Historical Society or to other appropriate agencies.

XII. Extending Resources
The Library endeavors to add as many new and varied materials to its collection as possible within the confines of budgetary limitations, but cannot purchase every item needed or requested. It will at all times attempt to extend its resources through cooperation with other libraries and information resources and through active use of the interlibrary loan system.

XIII. Requests for Reconsideration of Materials
Individuals with objections to specific materials in the Library’s collection should bring their concerns to the attention of the Library Director. If, after discussing their concern with the Library Director, the patron wishes to pursue the matter further, they will be required to state their specific complaint in writing by completing the Seymour Public Library’s “Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials” form (copy attached). All parts of the form must be completed and the form signed and dated. The form will then be reviewed carefully by the Head Librarian and a reply will be made to the patron after the review process is completed.

If still dissatisfied, the patron may, at this time, ask that their “Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials” form be brought before the next meeting of the Board of Library Directors. Such a request must be made only after the Library Director has reviewed and denied the original request. The Board will then review its original request and the decisions of the Library Director, discuss the issues raised, and respond to the patron after the review process is completed. The decision of the Board of Library Directors will be final.

Review of Materials Selection Policy
This policy will be reviewed periodically, if changes are required then the Library Board of Directors will vote on such changes proposed. This material will be distributed to all new members of the Library Board and the original copy will remain with the Library Director.

As approved by The Board of Library Directors 12/12


Seymour Public Library Request for Reconsideration of  Library Materials

The Board of Directors of the Seymour Public Library has established a materials selection policy and developed a procedure for requests for reconsideration of particular resources in the collection. Completion of this form is the first step in that procedure. If you wish to request reconsideration of a resource, please return the completed form to the library director.

Seymour Public Library
46 Church ST
Seymour, CT 06483

Date ___________________________________________________________
Your Name __________________________________________________________
Address ________________________________________________________
City ____________________________ State/Zip _______________________
Phone __________________________ Email __________________________

Do you represent self? ____ Or an organization? ____ Name of Organization ___________________________

  1. Resource on which you are commenting:
    ___ Book (e-book) ___ Movie ___ Magazine ___ Audio Recording
    ___ Digital Resource ___ Newspaper ___ Other

Title ________________________________________________________________________

Author/Producer _______________________________________________________________

  1. What brought this resource to your attention?


  1. Have you examined the entire resource? If not, what sections did you review?


  1. What concerns you about the resource?


  1. Are you aware of the judgement of this material by literary or educational critics?


  1. Please state the age group for which you feel this resource would be suitable.


  1. Are there resource(s) you suggest to provide additional information and/or other viewpoints on this topic?


  1. What action are you requesting the committee consider?



ALA 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.

I. 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.

II. 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.

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

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

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

VI. 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.

VII. All people, regardless of origin, age, background, or views, possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use. Libraries should advocate for, educate about, and protect people’s privacy, safeguarding all library use data, including personally identifiable information.


Adopted June 19, 1939, by the ALA Council; amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; February 2, 1961; June 27, 1967; January 23, 1980; January 29, 2019.

Inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996.

ALA Freedom to Read

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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.



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