Hartfield Library Policy Manual | HCC

Hartfield Library Policy Manual

Revised: December 2022


Behavioral Expectations                                                 

Circulation Policies                                                        

Interlibrary Loan                                                            

Collection Development                                                 


Computer Ethics                                                            

Flyers and Notices                                                          

Group Study Room                                                          

Off-Campus Users Library Services Policy                          


Teaching and Instruction                                                  


Library Assessment and Planning                                      

Budget and Fiscal Management                                         



Behavioral Expectations

Visitors can expect:

  •    Excellent service
  •    Respect for your privacy
  •    A welcoming environment
  •    Appropriate resources

The library is a place intended to serve all of our campus community – students, staff, and faculty – as well as residents of Henderson, Union, and Webster counties. In an effort to make the library as inviting as possible, we ask that visitors avoid disruptive behavior. The library staff defines “disruptive behavior” as any behavior that interferes with library services or another person’s ability to use library services. This policy and others concerning patron behavior are in accordance with the KCTCS Code of Student Conduct.

Disruptive behavior includes, but is not limited to:

  • Possessing alcohol, illegal items, or a weapon anywhere on campus
  • Abusive or harassing behavior
  • Mutilating, defacing, or stealing library materials, library equipment, or the property of staff or visitors
  • Selling, polling, soliciting, panhandling, or loitering in the library
  • Being intoxicated or impaired
  • Exhibiting sexual behavior
  • Sleeping in the library
  • Emitting strong odors that disrupt others from using library services
  • Using audio devices or phones that disrupt others from using library services
  • Using library furniture or equipment in ways other than intended

Additional rules for the safety of visitors and staff and preservation of the facility include, but are not limited to:

  • Children under the age of 16 may not be left unattended in the library.
  • Smoking or the use of tobacco products is prohibited inside the library and near the library entrances.
  • Food is allowed in the library. Drinks must have secure lids and trash should be disposed of properly, and neither food nor drink should be placed where they could spill on computers.
  • Only service animals are allowed in the library.
  • Visitors who wish to take photographs or make recordings must receive permission from those (subjects of the photos or recordings) involved.
  • All briefcases, backpacks, purses, and bags may be inspected by library staff.
  • All visitors must wear footwear and shirts.
  • Visitors may not enter non-public areas unless accompanied by a library staff member.

Library policies regarding the behavior of children include:

  • Patrons are responsible for their children’s well-being and behavior.
  • A child under 16 years old must be accompanied by an adult when using the library.
  • If a child is crying or being disruptive, the library staff may ask that they are taken away from public areas until they calm down.
  • Patrons responsible for a child in the library must monitor the child’s computer use for his/her safety.
  • If a child is endangered, the library staff will report the incident(s) to the appropriate authorities.

Circulation Policies

Intellectual Freedom

Each visitor must determine for themselves what materials are appropriate for personal viewing or checkout. The Library staff will not monitor or restrict any visitor’s borrowing based on visitor’s age, background, or views. The Hartfield Library at Henderson Community College supports and defends the concepts of intellectual freedom as protected by the United States Constitution, the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights (See Appendix A), Freedom to Read statement (See Appendix B), and Freedom to View statement (See Appendix C).

Confidentiality and privacy

The Library staff will protect the confidentiality of the following:

  • Circulation records, including interlibrary loans
  • Registration records
  • Reserve records
  • Material request records
  • Reference search records

Library staff will not provide this information except under the following circumstances:

  • When compelled by legal authority, such as a subpoena
  • When authorized in writing by the visitor concerned
  • When performing a loan transaction with another library on behalf of the visitor concerned

Legal interpretations of the Federal Privacy Act will be followed.

Library Lending Policies

Use of the library card implies acceptance of borrowing policies.

Visitors are financially responsible for all resources checked out on their library card. Visitors must report lost or stolen library cards to library staff. Visitors must notify library staff of address changes.

The library assumes no liability for any damages caused by the use or misuse of library resources.

The following specifies policies for materials in different formats:

 1. Books: general collection

A. 2-week loan (90 day loan for faculty and staff).

B. 1 renewal is allowed if the item has not been requested by another patron.

C. Phone and email renewals are accepted. Overdue items will not be renewed.

D. There is no limit to the number of items that may be borrowed.

 2. Books: reference collection

A. Library use only.

B. Exceptions may be made by the Assistant Librarian.

C. Reference circulation transactions will be handled at the Reference Desk.

 3. Books: special collection

A. Library use only.

 4. Periodicals: hardcopies

A. Library use only for students and community patrons.

B. 2-day loan for faculty and staff.

 5. Audio-Visual Materials

A. 3-day loan (7-day loan to faculty and staff).

B. 1 renewal is allowed if the item has not been requested by another patron.

C. Phone and email renewals are accepted. Overdue items will not be renewed.

 6. Vertical file folders

A.  3-day loan (7-day loan for faculty and staff).

B.  Individual clippings may not be checked out, only complete folders.

C.  1 renewal is allowed if item(s) has not been requested by another patron.

 7. Reserve items

A.  Individual instructors may assign the loan period appropriate for class needs. Common loan periods are 2-hours, 1 day, and 1 week.

B.  Instructors may place limits on number of items borrowed from a particular class.

C.  Instructors may specify that an item is for “Library Use Only.”

 8. Headphones

A.  4-hour loan.

B.  1 renewal is possible if there is no waiting list.

C.  Library use only.

 9. Laptops

A. A computer usage form to be signed and dated and a photocopy of patron’s driver’s license.

B. 4-hour loan.

C. Library use only.

Visitors who do not have library cards with them

Visitors may borrow library materials without their library card if they provide a valid photo identification card showing their current first and last names.

Picking up materials for another library visitor

For confidentiality issues, visitors must have written permission to pick up holds for someone else.

Suspension of library privileges

Library privileges may be suspended when visitors do not follow library policies.

Fines and Fees

Overdue library materials

Student and community visitors keeping materials longer than the due date will be mailed notices. A “hold” will be placed on the student’s records in the Admissions Office. This “hold” will keep students from registering for classes, prohibit them from obtaining copies of transcripts, and discontinue library borrowing privileges. The library will not accept replacement items purchased by patrons and will consider damaged items as “lost.” In such situations, replacement fees will be applied.

Overdue fines and replacement charges

  • Notices are sent out 7 days after the due date. This is done again 14 days after the due date. (See Appendix E)
  • A replacement bill is sent 21 days after the due date. (See Appendix F)
  • Fines

o   Books: $ .10 per day to a maximum of $3.00.

o   Audiovisuals: $1.00 per day to a maximum of $10.00.

o   Reserves: $1.00 per hour to a maximum of $10.00.

  • Replacement costs

o   Books: $50.00 or the cost of the book, whichever is greater.

o   Audiovisuals: $60.00 or the cost of the item, whichever is greater.

  • Resources returned in good condition will be credited the replacement cost, leaving only the overdue fine to be paid.

Interlibrary Loan

Interlibrary loan (ILL) is a service offered by the library to aid students, faculty, and staff for research. Policies are based on the national Interlibrary Loan Code of the American Library Association, Copyright laws, and the relevant regulations of the lending libraries.

ILL requests will be processed as quickly as possible, although the speed of the lending libraries will be a determining factor.

The following items are usually unavailable for ILL:

  1.  Reference materials
  2.  Periodicals (photocopies or .pdf scans are usually provided instead)
  3.  Microforms (photocopies or .pdf scans usually are provided instead)
  4.  Audiovisual materials
  5.  Rare, valuable, bulky, or fragile materials

Students, faculty, and staff members of Henderson Community College are eligible for ILL requests. To get materials through ILL, a request must be made through the library using either the paper “ILL Request Form” available at the library’s circulation desk or online via the library’s web page.

Lending to other libraries

Any library may request materials from the Hartfield Library. These requests must come via an OCLC or ALA form, electronic mail, or in exceptional circumstances by phone.

In accordance with standard practice and national guidelines, the borrowing library is responsible for replacing any lost item.

Reciprocal agreements

The library will negotiate and maintain reciprocal agreements with area libraries that will facilitate greater access for students and staff to the services and collections of both the HCC library and the area libraries.

Collection Development

The purpose of the library’s collection development program is to enhance instruction and learning in a manner consistent with the philosophy and curriculum of Henderson Community College.

Responsibility for Selection of Materials

   1. The responsibility for the selection of instructional materials is delegated to the college’s professionally trained library staff. For the purposes of this statement, the term “instructional materials” includes printed, electronic, and audio-visual materials.

   2. While the responsibility for coordinating the selection and purchase of library materials rests with the library staff, the library staff encourages the participation of all segments of the college community in collection development. Recommendations from faculty, students, staff, and the community are accepted and evaluated according to the selection criteria. Individual titles are selected on the basis of student, faculty, and staff recommendations according to the following criteria:

  1.  Accuracy of content
  2.  Demand
  3.  Representation of a point of view or subject needed in the collection
  4.  Relevance
  5.  Reliability
  6.  Use or potential use
  7.  Format
  8.  Coverage
  9.  Cost

    3. Materials shall be chosen to foster respect for minority groups, women, and ethnic groups, and shall realistically represent our diverse and pluralistic society.

    4. Biased or slanted materials may be provided to meet specific curriculum objectives or will be directed toward maintaining a balanced collection representing various views.

    5. Physical format and appearance of materials shall be suitable for their intended use.

    6. As a general rule, the library will purchase only one copy of an item. Additional copies of a title will be purchased only when the need can be justified.

    7. Since a major purpose of the library is to provide curriculum support materials, in general the library will not purchase current textbooks. The library will accept textbooks as donations subject to the regular donation policy.

    8. The library recognizes the financial limitations in providing research materials to a diverse community. For this reason, a strong commitment will be made to provide access to collections of other libraries through online databases and interlibrary loans. Reciprocal agreements with other libraries will allow patrons of each institution to have access to the library resources of other libraries.


To build collections that represent the information needs of faculty and students, the librarians solicit input in various ways including:

  • Attending faculty division meetings.
  • Sending and receiving electronic publisher advertisements via college email.
  • Sending and receiving printed publisher advertisements through campus mail.
  • Attending individual appointments with academic program coordinators.
  • Electronic surveys (for faculty and staff) administered with the assistance of the college’s Institutional Research Office.
  • Electronic surveys (for students) administered with “clickers” at the beginning of on-campus information literacy sessions.
  • Soliciting title recommendations (from employees, students and the college community) through the library’s web page.


We gladly accept materials donated to the library on the following conditions:

  1. The donor gives full title and control of the material to the library, with the clear understanding that the library is not obligated to place or keep any material on the shelves.
  2. The library applies the same criteria to donated materials as it does to purchased materials.
  3. The library does not accept donations for tax purposes.

Discard and Weeding

Weeding, or the removal of materials from the library collection, is an integral part of an ongoing effort to build the collection and maintain its relevance. Decisions to remove materials may be made in consultation with the faculty representatives most directly concerned with possible future use of specific materials. The professional library staff is responsible for the weeding process.

Guidelines for weeding materials include the:

  • Physical condition
  • Accuracy of information
  • Currency of information
  • Frequency of circulation
  • Permanent value to collection (e.g., classic titles, etc.)
  • Space to house item
  • Discontinuation of format


The library’s building and budget do not allow for extensive conservation and preservation. Attempts will be made to keep necessary resources in the collection through mending and cleaning. Other preservation efforts may include transferring resources from one format to another as copyright allows.


  1. The cataloging department is responsible for all aspects of cataloging service for books and other materials acquired by the library.
  2. Cataloging service may be extended to collections acquired by departments on or off the Henderson Community College (HCC) campus, provided that:

A. The collection will be made accessible to the entire HCC community;

B. The cataloging records will appear in the library’s main catalog.

Cataloging functions

The cataloging department performs three important functions:

   1. Cataloging and classification:
This includes the determination of authorship, description of the item, assignment of subject headings, and class number. Currently, we use the OCLC online cataloging system to catalog all our new books, audiovisual items, and Special Collections.

   2. Physical preparation of material for use:
This involves property stamping, placing call number labels on the spine, and inserting date due slips.

   3. Maintaining catalog records:
The maintenance of the library catalog in machine-readable form is a function of the cataloging department. The department also maintains the integrity of the library’s cataloging archive records in electronic format and in hardcopy format. This is done via OCLC’s database, and the KCTCS database through Alma. A typical electronic archival function occurs when a withdrawn item necessitates the cancellation of the respective title form the OCLC database.

New book loans to library staff

Any library staff may borrow a newly arrived book and/or audiovisual item from the cataloging area. The items should be removed only in the presence of the Cataloging Technician and with the borrower’s name and the date noted on a manual checkout slip. All such items on loan to staff are due back to the cataloging area within one month and should be handed to the Cataloging Technician.

Rush items

  1. The Cataloging Technician will “rush catalog” an item when requested by an HCC faculty, staff, or student for circulation or assignment-related urgency. Any library staff member can receive a rush request and then inform the technician. The title and author of the item, the reason for the rush request, and the requester’s name and telephone number should all be noted.
  2. The Cataloging Technician will perform the needed work and will have the item ready one day from the date of the request.
  3. After the rush item is catalogued and processed, the item will be placed on Reserve (if it is a Reserve item) or will be placed on hold in the Circulation department. The Circulation department will be responsible for notifying the requester that the item is ready and held at the Circulation counter.
  4. An unprocessed item will not be made available to non-library personnel until the item has been cataloged.

New book loans to library staff
Any library staff may borrow a newly arrived book and/or audiovisual item from the cataloging area. The items should be removed only in the presence of the Cataloging Technician and with the borrower’s name and the date noted on a manual checkout slip. All such items on loan to staff are due back to the cataloging area within one month and should be handed to the Cataloging Technician.

Computer Ethics

The following policy guidelines pertain to library computing resources; please note that the library also adheres to the KCTCS Administrative Policies and Procedures 4.2.5 concerning computer usage.

The library makes computing resources available for faculty, staff, students, and to a limited extent, community patrons. The resources administered by the library are intended to be used for educational purposes and to carry out the legitimate business of the college.

The library subscribes to the following statement of software and intellectual rights distributed by EDUCOM, the non-profit consortium of colleges and universities committed to the use and management of information technology in higher education:

Respect for intellectual labor and creativity is vital to academic discourse and enterprise. This principle applies to the work of all authors and publishers in all media. It encompasses respect for the right to acknowledgment, right to privacy, and right to determine the form, manner and terms of publication and distribution. Because electronic information is volatile and easily reproduced, respect for the work and personal expression of others is especially critical in computer environments. Violations of authorial integrity, including plagiarism, invasion of privacy, unauthorized access, and trade secret and copyright violations, may be grounds for sanctions against members of the academic community.

By using library computers, visitors are agreeing to, but not limited to, the following:

  1. Appropriate use of computers, includes class work, independent study, research, and the official work of campus organizations during normal library operating hours.
  2. Computers may not be used for commercial purposes and/or financial gain.
  3. Viewing or using another person’s computer files, programs, or data without authorized permission is unethical behavior and an invasion of that person’s privacy.
  4. Engaging in any activity that is against the law is prohibited.
  5. Users are responsible for the use made of that account.
  6. Users must be sensitive to the public nature of the library, and take care not to display on screens images, sounds, or messages that could create an atmosphere of discomfort or harassment for others. Users must also refrain from transmitting to others in any location, inappropriate images, sounds or messages which might reasonably be considered harassing.
  7. Users are not allowed to tie up library computing resources with game playing or other trivial applications including the sending of frivolous or excessive mail, or the casual surfing of the Internet.
  8. No library user will prevent others from using shared resources by running unattended processes or placing signs on devices to reserve them without authorization from a librarian. A device unattended without authorization will be considered abandoned and any process running on that device will be terminated.
  9. No library user will create, send, or forward, electronic chain letters.

In conclusion, users should also be aware that there are federal and state laws that govern certain aspects of computer and telecommunications use. All library users are expected to respect these laws, and to observe and respect college rules and regulations.

Flyers and Notices

There is a bulletin board in the downstairs hallway for displaying flyers and advertisements. This is only place flyers may be hung without the permission of the Library Director or his/her designee. The library may deny requests and/or remove items at any time for any reason.

Group Study Room

The library provides one room for group or individual study. The room is available to all students and employees on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations for these rooms are made at the Circulation Desk. Reservations are for two-hour blocks during regular library hours.

Off-campus Library Services Policy

All students currently enrolled in off-campus or distance education classes are eligible for library services comparable to those provided to on-campus students.

Available services

Off-campus students who come to the library may receive individual help in finding and using materials. Off-campus students may check out materials, request interlibrary loans, use audiovisual viewing and listening facilities, and access the Internet. These patrons may access the library’s online catalog and databases via the library’s web page.

The library will maintain subscriptions to a number of online indexes and databases of periodical articles that allow off-campus patrons to retrieve full-text articles from magazines and journals. Access to these databases requires a password that can be obtained by calling the Reference Desk at (270) 831-9767 or submitting an email to hencclibrary@kctcs.edu. Verification of student status is required.

For articles that are not available in full-text via the web page or for books found in other libraries, off-campus students may request an interlibrary loan by completing the form. Requests may also be made by phone to the Reference Desk at (270) 831-9767 or by emailing a scanned form to hencclibrary@kctcs.edu.

Library instruction is also performed at the college’s instruction sites. This service is arranged through faculty who teach courses at the sites. Faculty determine the dates and times of the training as well as the content to be covered. Appointments are scheduled through the Assistant Librarian at 270-831-9766 or emailing hencclibrary@kctcs.edu.

The library staff is available between 7:45 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. CST, Monday through Thursday, and on Friday from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Weekend assistance is not available. Phone calls will be taken from off-campus students during the library’s regular hours. Requests for help made via e- mail will also be addressed during these dates and times. (Hours will vary between semesters and during holidays.)


Copyright Law stimulates the development of creative works by protecting the author’s rights to that work, including the right to receive financial benefits from its reproduction and distribution. Copyright Law gives these exclusive rights to the copyright owner, or to those to whom he/she sells these rights. The use of copyrighted materials by educators and students is governed by both the Copyright Law and by guidelines that have since been developed to interpret the Fair Use exception that is set forth in the statute.

Copyright as it relates to library copying 

Sections 108 and 107 of the Copyright Law address the limits to copying copyrighted materials.

  1. There cannot be any commercial advantage as a result of making a copy.
  2. Copies can be made from periodicals in the library, although no more than five articles may be copied per issue of a periodical. Additionally, only one copy per article is allowed per user. Also, this rule is true for other copyrighted works such as a poem in a book of poems – provided that each copy becomes the property of the user and that each copy will not be used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research. For books, ten percent (10%) is considered fair use for duplicating purposes, copying more is considered copyright infringement. If the item is a work of fiction, the ten percent must not contain the work’s “climax.”
  3. The library will prominently display, at the place where copies are made, a warning about copyright rules and infringement.
  4. The person making the copy has the liability for determining whether or not copying fits the criteria for Fair Use as described in Section 107 of the Copyright Law.
  5. The law specifically states that permission given in Section 108 does not include any musical work, pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work, motion picture, or other audiovisual work.

Teaching and Instruction

The library’s primary objective is to prepare individuals to make effective, productive and lifelong use of information resources and information systems. To this end the library will provide Information Literacy (IL) training and support for all HCC students including those on-campus, off- campus (instructional sites), and online. Tools such as the Information Literacy eCommunity in Blackboard will primarily serve the college’s distance learners; however, components will also be used for the student taking courses in-person. Library and IL instruction at Henderson Community College includes library orientation, IL training sessions, and the provision of online training resources and instruction. These will enable patrons to effectively find and utilize available information resources and services. This instruction acknowledges the Student Learning Outcomes identified by the KCTCS Library Services and Resources Peer Team, and endeavors to achieve these goals during the training process.


A Reference Desk is operated by a professional librarian between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Assistance is provided in-person and electronically from this workstation. The goals of the reference service are to:

  • Assist students, staff, and public patrons in accomplishing their goals and objectives by providing comprehensive reference and information services.
  • Maintain a high level of communication between the library and other departments.
  • Insure that all students and staff are confident in their use of the library and its resources.
  • Insure easy access to the reference staff.
  • Maintain a professional, highly trained reference staff.
  • Provide the most current library reference technologies.

Library Assessment and Planning

Henderson Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and has several programs accredited by discipline-specific accrediting bodies. To maintain accreditation with these agencies, the library will provide appropriate library resources and services. The library staff determines the level of “appropriateness” by evaluating the collections and services against criteria set forth by SACSCOC and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL). Updates to library services will be linked to the institution’s Strategic Plan in Campus Labs – Planning so that the library’s improvement activities support the college’s efforts and satisfy the expectations of the faculty, staff, students, and accrediting organizations.

Budget and Fiscal Management

The Director of Library Services is responsible for all library budget activities, including the development of an annual budget proposal, the disbursement of funds, and the reporting of budget activities through PeopleSoft Financials. The following outline clarifies the library’s budgetary process.

  1. The library’s fiscal year is July 1 through June 30th and all transactions must be finalized prior to June 1.
  2. Starting July 1, library staff members identify both short-term, long-term equipment and supply needs for the library.
  3. In addition to equipment and supplies, the library staff makes every attempt to acquire quality electronic and hardcopy material at the lowest possible cost so the library’s budgetary dollars are maximized. The Director of Library Services has signature authority and is ultimately responsible for maintaining records relating to acquisitions.


The library supports and adheres to policies found in the KCTCS Personnel Policy Manual. Additional policies are as follows:

  1. Henderson Community College strives to staff the library with fully qualified people. Cross-training will be encouraged.
  2. The library staff will be encouraged to participate in professional development activities with library travel funds distributed as equally as possible.

Work expectations

  1. The library maintains a “customer first” attitude. For this reason, the library staff will endeavor to make patrons welcome, and to serve them promptly, efficiently, and with the highest quality.
  2. The library will strive to keep the confidential nature of inter-staff conflict between only those persons affected. Conflict that occurs among library staff will be addressed as openly and directly as possible by the Director of Library Services. It will be the pledge of the staff to address concerns about a colleague’s performance, attitude, or behavior first of the person concerned, and then to the Director of Library services.

Code of ethics for library employees

The following statement sets the ethical obligations of the HCC library staff members.

  1. To maintain the principles of the ALA Library Bill of Rights, the Freedom to Read Statement, the Freedom to View Statement, and the Henderson Community College Library Mission Statement.
  2. To understand and execute the policies of the college library, and to express in a positive manner any concern or objection with the policies, philosophy, or programs of these institutions.
  3. To maintain an objective and open attitude of understanding, courtesy, and concern for the patrons’ needs.
  4. To protect the essential confidential relationship which exists between a library user and the library.
  5. To serve all patrons equally according to their needs.
  6. To make the resources and services of the library known and easily accessible to all current and potential users.
  7. To avoid any possibility of personal financial gain at the expense of the employing institution.
  8. To be aware of the obligations of employment and of what constitutes abuse of working conditions and benefits.
  9. To acknowledge the importance of the work done by all staff in all divisions and maintain a sense of loyalty to, and cooperation with, fellow staff members.
  10. To carry out assignments so that fellow staff members need not assume added responsibilities, except in times of emergency.
  11. To share knowledge, experience, and expertise with others.
  12. To use the resources of the library and college in an efficient and economical manner, consistent with the best service to the library user.
  13. To use care and discretion to distinguish between private actions and those which are taken in the name of the institution, consistent with the rights of an individual to take part in public debate and to engage in social or political activity.


Appendix A

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 that 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 19, 1939, by the ALA Council; amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; February

2, 1961; June 27, 1967; January 23, 1980; inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996.



Appendix B

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.

      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.

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 C

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 of 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 guarantee 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 expression. 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 January 10, 1990, by the ALA Council