Alcohol, Tobacco, & Drug Policy.
Bulletin Board and Flyer Posting Policy.
Collection Management Policy.
Community Hall Policy.
Computer Lab Use for Non-Library Events.
Computer Usage Policy.
Credit Card Policy.
Discrimination and Harassment Policy.
Electronic Sign Policy.
Emergency & Safety Policy.
Hours of Operation Policy.
Inter-Library Loan (ILL) Policy.
Library Card Policy.
Lost and Found Policy.
Maker Equipment Policy.
Overdue and Lost or Damaged Items Policy.
Printing, Copy & Fax Policy.
Study Room Policy.
Unattended Child Policy.
Appendix I: The Freedom to Read Statement.
Appendix II: Library Bill of Rights.
Appendix III: E-Reader and Tablet Checkout.
Appendix IV: Materials Complaint form.
Alcohol consumption is prohibited on library grounds
Smoking is prohibited on library grounds. Smokers may go to the south alley or the north street.
Illegal drug use is prohibited. The police will be notified.
Please also see the Unattended Children Policy
The goal of the Ashland Public Library is to create a welcoming, safe environment for both staff and patrons. Individuals are expected to treat the library property, other customers, and staff with courtesy and respect.
The following actions and forms of conduct are not permitted in the Ashland Public Library or on library property:
- Any action or behavior which is disruptive, disturbing, disorderly or potentially harmful to others.
- Any loud, unreasonable and/or disturbing noises created by persons, electronic devices or cell phones. Extended cell phone usage should be limited to the lobby area.
- Intentionally damaging, destroying, or stealing any library property or a patron’s or staff property.
- Loitering, sleeping or putting legs or feet on the table.
- Not wearing shoes or shirt, or wearing clothes unbuttoned or unzipped.
- Possession of open food or drink at or around any computer.
- Use of tobacco or electronic cigarettes in the building or within 100 feet of any entrance.
- Possession or consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs or being under the influence of same.
- Soliciting, surveying, selling of any kind, political campaigning, and distribution or posting of materials not specifically authorized by the Library Director.
- Leaving a child under seven years of age unattended by a responsible person for any amount of time; leaving a child of any age an excessive period of time or beyond closing. Adult supervision is recommended for all elementary-school aged children while in the library.
- Animals in the building, except assistance animals.
- Carrying weapons of any type.
- Any illegal acts or conduct in violation of Federal, State, or local law, ordinance or regulation.
In most cases, patrons who are behaving inappropriately in the library will be given one warning by the library staff and asked to behave in an appropriate manner. Patrons who refuse to behave more appropriately after one warning will be asked to leave the library. Serious violations, which include behaviors that are absolutely unacceptable, do not require a warning, but can result in the loss of library privileges for as long as the director deems necessary.
In the cases in which a patron poses a clear danger to her/himself or others, deliberately violates the law, or refuses to leave the library after being asked to leave by the staff, the police will be called to handle the situation.
Adopted 3/12/2012, Revised 10/15/2014
The bulletin board by the main entry is available for public use. Staff will maintain the board based on currency or condition of the flyers and space. Individuals posting may not remove or cover other flyers.
If there is a lack of space please leave flyer with staff.
Staff must grant permission for flyers to be posted elsewhere in the library.
Please see the Library Card Policy for acceptable identification.
Please see the E-Reader and Tablet form for their check out information.
Please see the Overdue and Lost or Damaged policy regarding overdues.
Up to 10 items may be checked out, with proper identification, for 3 weeks and one renewal with the following exceptions:
New Adult Section books 4 items 2 weeks
Videos 2 items 1 week
Magazines 2 items 1 week
Holds may be placed on any item checked out. Library staff will call when the item is available, which will be held for 5 days.
All items may be renewed twice, provided there are no holds.
Adopted 2/8/2012, Revised 4/15/2015, 5/18/2016, 10/24/2018
The ultimate responsibility for selection and removal of materials rests with the library director, operating within the framework of policies determined by the library board.
The library gathers materials, both print and non-print, on all subjects of interest to the community. In collecting these materials, the library adheres to the principles embodied in the Library Bill of Rights and this policy statement.
Selection of materials follows standard guidelines.
- At least one of the following criteria will be used in material selection: needs and interests of the library’s users and anticipated users, accuracy and responsibility of the author, effective expression, significance of the subject, or the item’s relationship to the rest of the collection and to the interest of the community.
- Selection criteria for audio-visual and other non-print materials include such factors as artistic and technical standards in addition to content-related values.
- Standard book review and selection tools, such as but not limited to book reviews from professional journals, best seller lists, and other professional library publications, are used to determine usefulness of all print and non-print materials. On order materials will be reviewed by the Board if at least 3 written complaints are received before the receipt of the item.
- Patron requests are considered when it is felt the material suggested will be of use in the collection.
The library collection presents opposing views on controversial topics.
- The library maintains a vigorous program on behalf of intellectual freedom.
- Care will be taken so that no one patron or group determines the selection or withdrawal of materials because of biased opinions
Materials will be removed taking into consideration the factors in which materials are selected.
Materials will be removed from the collection based on the following criteria: condition, lack of relevance to the community, lack of use, inaccurate, outdated, or a newer edition is acquired.
The library mainly accepts unconditional donations.
The Director evaluates accepted donations using the Selection and Removal sections of the Collection Management policy.
Donations not added to the collection will be discarded at the library’s discretion. The library will attempt to discard the materials through book sales, donations to other organizations and other possible means, before recycling.
The Community Hall is open to all groups in the community, regardless of the beliefs and affiliations of their members. When not in use for Ashland Public Library sponsored events, the meeting room is available for educational, civic, social, or cultural purposes.
Schedule of Fees
All fees, including the custodial deposit, must be paid within three days of booking, in order to receive approval. Room fees and cleaning deposits may be paid with cash, check or credit. Please see the Credit Card policy regarding credit card fees.
A). Non-Profit Groups, defined as literacy oriented, 501(c) 3, educational, governmental, or civic/community, will not be charged a fee.
B). Social events, such as birthday parties, baby showers, etc. or Non-profits hosting an event closed to the public or charging a fee will be charged $10 per hour for half the room and $20 per hour for the whole room.
C). For-Profit Groups will be charged $20 per hour for half the room and $40 per hour for the whole room.
D). Any damaged item(s) will result in charges for repair or replacement of the item(s). If a carpet tile is damaged, there is a replacement fee for the cost of the tile.
Refundable Custodial Deposit
The $25.00 refundable custodial deposit is required from all groups. At the conclusion of your meeting, return the room setup (i.e. tables, chairs, equipment, etc.) to the way the room was previously arranged. In the event this task is not satisfactorily completed, the problem should be corrected before the group leaves or the deposit will not be refunded. This deposit covers library staff time spent putting the room back in order, as well as any additional cleaning, if the organization does not return the room to an approved state.A library staff member must approve the room condition before the custodial deposit is given back to the person/organization responsible for the meeting or event. Deposits will be returned by check from the City of Ashland, via mail. Please allow for up to a month to process.
Guidelines for Use
The library reserves the right to revoke permission to use any meeting room to any individual, group or organization which violates or refuses to comply with the rules and regulations established for use of the meeting rooms.
A). Reservations must be made online at http://ashland.evanced.info/spaces. Events may be scheduled between three days and six months in advance. First time users will need to setup an account. The Community Hall is available both during and outside of regular library hours.
B). To encourage use of other library services and materials, the individual booking the room must have an Ashland Public Library card in good standing.
C). Any special table or seating arrangements shall be the responsibility of the group using the meeting room. When scheduling, groups should allow extra time for setting up the room before the meeting is to start and for returning it to its original condition when the meeting is over.
D.) Neither the library nor its employees shall assume responsibility for any property of groups, individuals or organizations. The library will not store any property before meetings, and at the end of each meeting, all of an organization’s property must be removed from the library.
E). Groups may arrange to use library audio/visual equipment where it is available. However, no one shall operate library equipment unless they are properly trained. This may require that a member of the group make an appointment with a library staff member prior to the meeting to receive training. Staff cannot guarantee that personal electronic items will work with library audio/visual equipment.
F). The Meeting Room capacity may not exceed the capacity set by the Fire Marshall. Please inquire with library staff for acceptable capacity.
G). Meeting room groups must adhere to all the Library’s policies.
Food and Refreshments
Food and beverages may be served. The ovens and microwave are available for use in the warming kitchen. The refrigerator may be used for temporary storage only; all other contents are for library use only. Certain other items may be available for use upon checking with library staff. All other contents of the warming kitchen are for library use only. All other equipment is the responsibility of the group hosting the meeting. Please keep food and drinks inside the meeting room.
Beverages containing alcohol cannot be served on city property.
Groups canceling a scheduled meeting must report the cancellation to the library. If the meeting is cancelled within three (3) days or fewer, prior to the meeting date, the group forfeits the meeting room fee. If the group cancels more than three (3) days in advance or must cancel at the last minute due to inclement weather, the fee will be refunded. The Library reserves the right to cancel any reservation no less than 2 weeks before the scheduled booking.
Approved 11/19/2014, Revised 3/18/2015, 9/16/2015, 1/25/2017, 10/24/2018
The computer lab may be used by other organizations, with the permission of the Library Director. The Director has the right to refuse use, taking into consideration infringement of public use, library hours, building security and other factors.
Use outside of normal Library hours will not be considered, due to building security.
Community Hall fees may be applied for the use of the lab.
This document constitutes a Library-wide policy for the management of public computers and wireless network resources. In agreement with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA ~ Public Law 106-554, which is codified in 47 USC 254), all Library public access workstations use filtering software to access the Internet. Adults 18 or older who need unfiltered access for any lawful purpose may request it from a staff member. Unfiltered access will be granted on a per-session basis.
All users of public computers:
- Have a library account in good standing*
- Sign up for only one computer at a time.
- Report any loss or theft of their library card immediately.
- Observe the legal protections provided by copyright and license law, and computer abuse laws.
- Observe posted time limits and regulations.
- Limit computer usage to a maximum of two people per computer station.
- Assume full responsibility for filing electronic forms.
- Report equipment problems promptly to Library staff.
*Users from outside the Ashland-Greenwood School District are not required to purchase a card. A temporary guest account will be generated for computer use.
It is the Library’s policy that parents or legal guardians must assume responsibility for deciding what electronic and online resources are appropriate for their children. There will be some resources that parents may feel are inappropriate for their children. Parents are responsible for informing their children as to which materials are and are not suitable for use by the child. Parents should supervise their child’s Internet sessions.
In agreement with CIPA regulations, all Library public-access workstations use filtering software to access the Internet. No filtering software can control access to all materials that an individual may deem inappropriate. The Ashland Public Library does not guarantee the total effectiveness of technological protection measures such as filtering software.
Information on teaching children and teens to avoid the dangers that exist on the Internet can be found at NetSmartz: http://www.netsmartz.org/index.aspx. This site is sponsored by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Copyrighted works are protected regardless of the medium in which they are created or reproduced; thus, copyright extends to digital works and works transformed into digital format. Any copyright statements or symbols should be retained when printing a digital document.
Printing is available for a per page fee from most computer workstations, and patrons are responsible for full payment for any printing done at the Library.
No envelopes, labels, transparencies or other paper or materials not provided or approved by the Library may be placed in Library printers.
In order to provide equitable patron access, computer usage is limited to a finite amount of time per day. All computer sessions, regardless of length, count towards the total time use. Time limits may vary by location of workstation.
Computers will be shut down a designated number of minutes before the Library closes. The Library is not responsible for the loss of any information or data that may occur as a result of shutdown procedures.
The Library buildings may be subject to power surges and power outages, which may affect personal equipment and transactions taking place on public computers. The Library assumes no liability for any loss or damage to users’ data or devices, invasion of the user’s privacy, or for any personal damage or injury incurred as a result of using the Library’s computing resources.
The Library is not responsible for the theft of personal computers or other devices, personal property loss or damage.
The Ashland Public Library assumes no responsibility for any damages, direct or indirect, arising from use of its Internet server (home pages), Internet connections (wireless or wired) or from its connections to other Internet services. The Library does not guarantee that individual users are protected from accessing information they personally may deem undesirable or disturbing.
Users acknowledge that security errors and hacking are an inherent risk associated with any wireless Internet service, and agree that they knowingly assume such risk, and further agree to hold the Library harmless from any claim or loss arising out of, or related to, any such instance of hacking or other unauthorized use or access into the user’s computer.
Adopted 5/7/2009, Revised 2/25/2015, 8/19/2016
State law stipulates confidentiality of library records, i.e. Law 84-712.05, “Records which may be withheld from the public”, states that “The following records, unless publicly disclosed in an open court, public entity pursuant to its duties, may be withheld from the public by the lawful custodian of the records ….(1) Records or portions of records kept by a publically funded library which, when examined with or without other records, revealed the identity of any library patron using the library’s materials or services.”
It is the policy of the Ashland Public Library to maintain complete confidentiality of all library circulation records.
As part of the City of Ashland, the Ashland Public Library is able to accept credit/debit cards for library fees and services only, as listed in other library policies. We are unable to provide cash back services.
The City of Ashland has entered into an agreement with Forte to provide this service. Forte will charge a “Convenience Fee” of 2.5%, with a minimum payment of $ 1.95, for credit/debit cards processed using this service. The “Convenience Fee” is not part of your library charges or fees, and the Ashland Public Library, or the City of Ashland, will not receive any portion of the fee associated with this service.
Any donations to the library must be made by check or cash.
The City of Ashland who oversees the Ashland Public Library will promptly investigate all allegations of discrimination and/or harassment in as confidential a manner as possible and take appropriate corrective action if warranted.
The Ashland Public Library and the City of Ashland Government will have access to create notices and displays on the Electronic Sign. Library events will not be placed on the sign unless sponsored or cosponsored by the Library or City of Ashland Government.
Requests from other parties to have notices and information included on the sign will not be accepted.
Adopted 9/16/2015, Revised 8/17/2016
- Snow–If schools are closed, the library will try to remain open. A notice will be posted on the public entrances and Facebook, if any change. City Hall will be notified.
- Tornado or Violent Storm–The library staff will monitor the weather conditions. In the event of a tornado warning staff will move everyone to the restroom shelters. Patrons who do not go to the shelter must leave the building, for security purposes. If a patron remains in the building, rather than go to the shelter loss of library privileges may result.
- Fire–Staff will evacuate the building and call 911. If the location of the fire is known and can be put out with an extinguisher staff will do so. If the location is unknown, staff must fully evacuate the building, before attempting to locate the fire. Patrons may reenter the building when deemed safe by the Fire Department.
- Loss of Utilities–Call city hall.
- Plumbing Problems–Call city hall. Next step may be to call plumber.
- Bomb Threat–The building should be cleared and the police notified.
- Armed Incident– Staff will take cover and assist those nearby if possible. If near a room that is easily secured, attempt to get as many people in the room and secure it. If near an exit, attempt to exit the building. Notify police if safely possible.
- Medical Issues–A first aid kit is available for minor wounds. Staff may provide the contents of the kit, but should not treat the wounds or administer medication. In the event of a medical emergency call 911. If the individual has any medication, which will relieve the emergency, such as an epi pen for an allergic reaction, staff may administer that medication. If necessary, an accident report needs to be made out, signed by injured person, possibly parent/guardian and a staff member.
- Reporting Injuries-All emergency information will be reported to the city. The Library Board of Trustees should be informed.
- Patron Unruliness or Violence– Please see Behavior Policy. The police may need to be called.
Adopted 3/12/2012, Revised 8/26/2015
The Ashland Public Library has a genealogy machine for public use. The materials deal with the Ashland Gazette newspaper: births, marriages and deaths. The time period covered is March 28, 1879-December 27, 2001. Copies can be made at $0.15 a sheet.
Requested genealogy information which must be done by a library staff member has a charge of $10.00. The staff member will look up the requested material, make copies of the information, either e-mail or write the person saying we either have information or we don’t. If we do, we will wait until the requester sends us the $10.00 and then we’ll send the copied information to the requester. No money, no information.
Extensive searches cannot be accommodated.
Monday & Tuesday: 9am-7pm
Wednesday & Thursday 9am-8pm
Friday: 9am – 5pm
Saturday: 1pm – 5pm
½ day P.M. on New Year’s Eve (only if falling on M-F)
New Year’s Day
½ day P.M on Christmas Eve (only if falling on M-F)
Fourth of July
When Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on a Saturday, the ½ day (P.M.) for the respective “Eve” holidays will be observed as determined by City management.
Adopted 2/8/2012, Revised 11/14/2012, 2/14/2014, 4/15/2015
Items not owned by the Ashland Public Library or multiple copies of a title may be request via an Inter-Library Loan. Staff will provide a form to collect the need information and will request the item(s). A fee to ship the item(s) back will be charged. The fee will be determined by the postage amount required to send the item(s) to the Ashland Public Library.
Any charges and fees (overdue or lost/damaged fees, etc.) from the loaning library will be passed on to the borrowing patron.
To get a library card, proof of address is required. A photo ID with current address or a photo ID, with two forms of address verification, are require as proof. The two forms of address verification must include a recent date on the document, such as postmarked mail, bills, rental agreements, postal change of address verification, etc. Any Ashland-Greenwood School District student, 15 years or older, may use their current Student ID to receive a card. All residents within the Ashland-Greenwood School District may receive a card at no charge.
For residents outside the school district there is a $25.00 fee, which will cover up to 5 cards (per household), for up to a year of library use. Each additional card will be $5 per card. This fee will be waived for children opted into the Ashland-Greenwood School District after providing a current student ID or proof of enrollment.
The library card will provide access to the following:
- Borrowing of physical materials
- Use of ebooks and digital audiobooks
- Online resources paid for by the library
- Computer use
A parent or guardian must provide proof of address and sign for individuals between the ages of 5 and 14.
Lost cards are $1.00 to replace.
The library card is good at the following libraries: Ashland, Mead, Wahoo and Yutan Public Libraries and Ceresco Community Library.
In order to insure the accuracy of patron accounts, the library account will expire every year. In order to renew your account, you must present the proof of address required to get a library card to renew the account. Any non-resident must also pay the $25.00 fee.
In order to check out materials, a library card or photo ID (driver’s license, state ID, school ID, etc.) must be presented at the time of check out. For those unable to acquire a photo ID, it is preferred that a library card be presented; however, a photo may be attached to the library account to provide identification.
Adopted 2/8/2012, Revised 10/9/2013, 6/17/2015, 5/18/2016, 1/25/2017
Any personal items left at the library will be place in the Lost and Found and displayed the first week of the month, after which time the library will donate or dispose of the items, at the Library Director’s discretion.
The Ashland Public Library has multiple types of maker equipment for use by the public. Any member of the public may use the equipment provided they have been trained to use it. Appointments may be made with library staff for training. Those who misuse or abuse the equipment may loss further privilege to use the equipment. Use of the equipment is free; however, fees may be associated to cover costs of materials or use of equipment parts that require regular replacement.
All fees include 7% sales tax and are as follow:
Individuals may bring their own laminating pouches of either 3 or 5 millimeter thickness. Pouches will also be available at the library for purchase.
4×6-inch Pouch- 10₵
Letter Size Pouch- 15₵
Legal Size Pouch- 25₵
11×17-inch Pouch- 40₵
Button Machine Fees
Individuals may bring their own button supplies for 1-inch or 2.25-inch button machines. The Library encourages individuals to review the different kits available for use with the button machine, as not all types will be available for purchase at the library. The following types of button supplies will be available at the library for purchase.
1-inch pin- 15₵
1-inch magnet- 35₵
2.25-inch pin- 15₵
2.25-inch mirror- 35₵
2.25-inch magnet- 35₵
The following overdue fines do not apply towards tablets and e-readers. Please see the policy regarding tablets and e-readers for their overdue fees.
Once an item becomes overdue, all privileges requiring a library card number will be suspended, until it is returned and all overdue fees are paid or if all lost or damaged fees are paid. However, an item may be renewed up to 7 days after the due date. No renewals will be granted for items more than 7 days overdue. Items returned before we open will be checked in as if they were returned the previous day the library was open.
Patrons with overdue items will have a 7 day grace period, where no overdue charges will be assessed. Starting on the 8th day an item is overdue, a $0.50 charge will be applied each day the item is overdue, up to $15.00 per item.
Once an item is 38 days overdue, a bill for the item(s) will be mailed out. If the item(s) is not returned, a replacement charge equal to the cost of the item and a $10 processing fee will be assessed. However, if the item is returned only the $15 overdue fee will remain.
Notifications will be sent at the following intervals
- A reminder will be sent 3 days before an item is due, via text or email only.
- A text, email, or phone message will be made once an item is 6 days overdue.
- A letter will be mailed once an item is 14 days overdue.
- A bill for the replacement and processing cost will be mailed at 38 days overdue.
Patrons with a lost or seriously damaged item will be charged a replacement cost plus a $10 processing fee. Replacement items will not be accepted unless cleared with the Library Director, and the $10 processing fee is paid.
In the case of lost items, a refund, of both the replacement charge and the processing fee, may be issued, if the item is found within 60 days of the due date. If any overdue charges were accrued on that item, those charges will apply and the refund may be applied towards it.
Patrons returning a damaged item that is deemed useable by the Library Director will be charged at the discretion of the Library Director, but less than the cost of the replacement charge. Patrons returning a book missing the library barcode will be charged $2.00.
Adopted 10/10/2012, Revised 9/18/2013, 2/15/2017
Black and white copies and printouts are $0.15 apiece, color pages are $0.50
Faxes are $1.00 for each page, incoming and outgoing. If desired, the cover sheet also costs $1.00. A fax confirmation sheet can be provided at no additional charge.
Adopted 9/15/2010, Revised 5/14/2014
The two Study Rooms are available for small meetings or individuals on a first come, first serve basis, during regular library hours. On rare occasions the rooms may be reserved after speaking to library staff. For large groups or events please see the Community Hall Policy.
The library telephone cannot be used by anyone other than library staff.
To protect an individual’s security and privacy, library staff will not inform any caller if a specific individual is present in the library, regardless of relationship. Library staff will not be responsible for conveying messages to individuals, who may be using or will be using the library.
Adopted 3/12/2009, Revised 10/19/2016
Please also refer to the Behavior Policy.
The Ashland Public Library welcomes library use by children. Staff members are available to assist children with library materials or services. The Library desires to provide a safe and appropriate environment for visitors of all ages. The Library, however, is a public building with staff trained to provide public library services. The Library is not equipped -and it is not the Library’s role- to provide long- or short-term child care.
For the safety and comfort of children, a responsible adult or caregiver should accompany children while they are using the Library. While in the Library, parents and caregivers are responsible for monitoring and regulating the behavior of their children.
Unattended children are children of any age who are apparently unaccompanied by a parent, guardian, and/or responsible caregiver. Children who are unable or unwilling to care for themselves may not be left alone in the Library and must have adequate supervision while in the Library. The Library is not responsible if children leave Library property unattended.
All ACRC visitors are expected to follow the Ashland Public Library Behavior Policy. Children who exhibit inappropriate behavior may be asked to leave the Library. If the child is not allowed to leave the Library without an adult, he/she should not be in the Library without an adult.
All children should have the telephone number of someone who can assist them in an emergency. If a child is found to be unattended, Library staff will attempt to locate the parent/caregiver in the Library and inform him/her of the Unattended Child Policy. If the parent/caregiver cannot be located, Library staff will contact the Ashland Police Department to assist the child.
Teenagers are considered adult users. However, they are the legal responsibility of their parent/legal guardian and should have an emergency contact available.
Library staff members will be guided by this policy in situations, such as
- An unattended child is found frightened or crying in the Library
- An unattended child is perceived to be endangering him or herself, or that another person in the library poses a perceived threat to the unattended child
- An unattended child exhibits specific inappropriate behavior
- An unattended child has not been met by a responsible caregiver at closing time
After evaluating the situation, Library staff members will attempt to contact the parent or guardian of an unattended child. In the event that the parent or guardian cannot be reached, the child will be placed in the care of the Ashland Police Department.
Violations of this policy are grounds for suspension of library privileges
*Note: ACRC and Library are used interchangeably, and are used to represent the entire building.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
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
Endorsed by the Ashland Public Library Board 3/18/2015
The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.
- 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.
- 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.
- Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
- A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
- 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.
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.
Endorsed by the Ashland Public Library Board 3/18/2015E-Reader Agreement
Materials Complaint form