Intellectual Freedom and the Right To Read: An Affirmation of Core Library Values

As news stories around book challenges abound, the Maine State Library reaffirms its commitment to the right of all Maine residents to seek information in all formats. MSL stands in steadfast support of Maine’s libraries’ mission to provide equitable access to the widest range of viewpoints, opinions, and ideas and to stand opposed to censorship of any kind. State Librarian Jamie Ritter released the following statement:

“The Right to Read and the Right to Freedom of Thought are innate values that define our commitment to ideas, thoughts, and the ability to learn. These timeless values are essential to a functioning democracy, and libraries have been long-standing champions of these fundamental values and rights. The Maine State Library will forever support the Freedom of Thought and the Right to Read.” 

The American Library Association and its eight divisions released a joint statement in response to widespread attempts to censor books in U.S. schools and libraries.

The American Library Association’s Freedom to Read statement

Additional resources from the American Library Association about Censorship, the Library Bill of Rights, Interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights, and Addressing Challenges to Books by Problematic Authors Q & A.

The Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association has prepared a Fight Censorship webpage in response to the recent uptick in local and statewide book challenges. This clearinghouse will help library staff, trustees, and library advocates prepare for and respond to challenges if they arise in your community. 

For Library Boards, Trustees, and Friends Groups

The United for Libraries Intellectual Freedom Task Force has compiled two new resources to support Trustees and libraries to prepare for program, material, and access challenges.

Both Tip Sheets are featured on the United for Libraries resource page "Trustee Resources for Program & Material Challenges."

Privacy and Patron Confidentiality Policy Development
We know it is important to continually review and update our library policies and to develop new policies to address emerging issues in our facilities. The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom advises libraries to have a patron privacy policy. In Maine, the law concerning patron library records can be found here . The Maine State Library has provided some FAQs about Maine’s patron confidentiality law here.

When creating your library's privacy policy, consider these questions. The Library Freedom Project offers a template for libraries to develop their own privacy policies here.

Below are some model privacy and confidentiality policies from Maine libraries:

For Children's and Youth Library Staff
The Intellectual Freedom Committee of the Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC) created a toolkit for library staff that work with young readers to raise awareness of intellectual freedom and information literacy in fun and engaging programming. 

For Everyone
Intellectual Freedom books are available through the Maine State Library professional collection. Here are a few to start with.  

Many of the book challenges are happening in schools, and the Maine Association of School Libraries stands strong for intellectual freedom. MASL has partnered with Maine’s education organizations in a joint statement affirming and protecting students' rights to intellectual freedom. Visit their Intellectual Freedom webpage for more information and resources. 

Want to Learn More?

Now is a good time to brush up on your knowledge and understanding of how Intellectual Freedom relates to library services in YOUR library. Check out these free on-demand courses in Niche Academy in the Fundamentals of Librarianship collection.

Do you need to review your policies? Check these out.

Subscribe to the Intellectual Freedom Blog, a weekly compilation of news by the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom. 


Follow the Conversation on Twitter

Libraries and library supporters across the country are sharing their experiences. Add your voice to the conversation on Twitter using  #intellectualfreedom and #FReadom. Make sure to tag MSL @MaineStLibrary.