Library Bill of Rights

Adopted June 18, 1948

Amended February 2, 1961 and June 27, 1967 by the ALA Council

The Council of the American Library Association reaffirms its belief in the following basic policies which should govern the services of all libraries.

  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 or nationality or the social, political, or religious views of the author.
  2. Libraries should provide books and other materials presenting all points of view concerning the problems and issues of our times. No library materials should be proscribed or removed from the library because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
  3. Censorship should be challenged by libraries I the maintenance of their responsibility to provide public information and enlightenment.
  4. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgement of free expression and free access to ideas.
  5. The rights of the individual to the use of the library should not be defined or abridged because of his age, race, religion, national origin or social or political views.
  6. As an institution of education for democratic living, the library should welcome the use of meeting rooms for socially useful and cultural activities and discussion of current public questions. Such meeting places should be available on equal terms to all groups in the community regardless of the beliefs and affiliations of their members, provided that the meetings be open to the public.

The Freedom to Read

A joint statement by the American Library Association and Association of American Publishers originally issued in May, 1953:

  1. It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those which are unorthodox or unpopular with the majority.
  2. Publishers, librarians, and book sellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation contained in the books 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 books should be published or circulated.
  3. It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to determine the acceptability of a book on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.
  4. There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed for adolescents or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression.
  5. It is not in the public interest to force a reader to accept any book with the prejudgment of a label characterizing the book or author as subversive or dangerous.
  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.
  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, bookmen can demonstrate that the answer to a bad book is a good one, the answer to a bad idea is a good one.
Note: “Books” as used in this statement include all kinds of materials purchased for library use.