Intellectual Freedom

While it can be a little awkward role playing this kind of situation, I found last week’s class to be an informative and practical exercise that will help us in our roles as intellectual freedom advocates in the library.

Working in a pubic library I expect to encounter many emotional challenges from parents and members of the community.  From our exercise, I learned how important it is for the librarian to remain calm and listen respectfully to the patron’s complaint.

Writing the response letter provided practice in defending why these books belong on the shelves in a professional manor.  This exercise illustrated how  important it is to be knowledgable of all the library’s policies as well as the Library Bill of Rights and ALA’s Core Values and Code of Ethics.  Even keeping copies at the references desk seems like a great idea!

Below is my sample letter:


Dear ______,

Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding the young adult novel, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.    Eleanor & Park has won many awards including the Booklist Editor’s Choice Award, School Library Journal Best Book Award, YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Award in 2014 and Horn Book Award for Fiction and has received highly favorable reviews.   

The Brooklyn Public Library’s Material Selection policy incorporates the “Diversity in Collection Development Statement” which states that, ” librarians have a professional respect to be inclusive, not exclusive, in collection development.”  Also, the American Library Association’s “Library Bill of Rights” states that “Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents – and only parents – have the right and responsibility to restrict the access of their children – and only their children – to library resources.  Parents who do not want their children to have access to certain library services, materials, or facilities should so advise their children.  Librarians and library governing bodies cannot assume the role of parents or the function of parental authority in the private relationship between parent and child.”

We have examined the material and discussed your concerns.  After careful consideration,  Eleanor & Park meets the requirements of the Material Selection Policy here at BPL and should remain in the collection.  

We appreciate your interest in the library. If you have any suggestions about alternative titles or materials you would like to see added to the collection, please let us know.

Thank you.





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