B.8 Services and Responsibilities of Libraries (Old Number 52)


B.8.1 Literacy (Old Number 50.6)


B.8.1.1 Literacy and State Library Agencies (Old Number 50.6.1)

The American Library Association supports the achievement of national literacy through educational activities utilizing the historical and cultural experience of libraries and librarians.

The American Library Association urges state library agencies to address the problems of illiteracy and give high priority to solutions in their short and long range plans for library development and use of federal and state funds.


B.8.1.2 Literacy and the Role of Libraries (Old Number 50.6.2)

The American Library Association reaffirms and supports the principle that lifelong literacy is a basic right for all individuals in our society and is essential to the welfare of the nation. ALA advocates the achievement of national literacy through educational activities utilizing the historical and cultural experiences of libraries and librarians.

ALA confirms that libraries of all types, as appropriate to their mission, have the responsibility to make literacy a high priority in planning and budgeting for library services. As pioneer and equal partners in the national literacy movement, libraries will continue to take a strong leadership role and must join with other literacy providers to urge local, state, federal, and private agencies to promote active development of literacy on a policy level and to support funding of the literacy services in libraries.


B.8.2 Service to Detention Facilities and Jails (Old Number 52.1)

The American Library Association encourages public libraries and systems to extend their services to residents of jails and other detention facilities within their taxing areas. ALA instructs its Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies in cooperation with the Public Library Association, The Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations, and other interested units to design a plan to assist public libraries in extending their services to local jails and detention facilities.


B.8.3 Preservation (Old Number 52.2)


B.8.3.1 Definition of Digital Preservation and the Revised Preservation Policy (Old Number 52.2.1)

Digital preservation combines policies, strategies and actions to ensure the accurate rendering of authenticated content over time, regardless of the challenges of media failure and technological change. Digital preservation applies to both born digital and reformatted content.

Publishers and distributors of content in digital form must address the usability and longevity of their electronic works. The Association encourages publishers to provide metadata that will facilitate the life cycle management of works in digital formats and to deposit digital works in repositories that provide for the long-term persistence and usability of digital content. The Association will work with the publishers to develop guidelines on digital preservation to help ensure that such information will not be lost when publishers can no longer retain and disseminate it. The Association encourages research on metadata, software, operating systems, and life cycle management techniques that may affect the preservation of digital works.

ALA affirms that the preservation of library resources protects the public's right to the free flow of information as embodied in the First Amendment to the Constitution and the Library Bill of Rights.

The Association supports the preservation of information disseminated and published in all media and formats. The Association affirms that the preservation of information content and information resources are central to libraries and librarianship.

The Association will actively support its Divisions and other organizations in developing preservation guidelines and best practices that may serve as catalysts for official national and international standards.

It is the Association's official position that publishers, information distributors and manufacturers have an obligation and responsibility to libraries and to the public to report appropriate information about the usability, durability and longevity of media. The Association strongly urges publishers to use paper and other media that meet standards promulgated by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Standards Organization (ISO) for all publications of enduring value. Publishers should include a statement of compliance on the verso of the title page of a book or the masthead or copyright area of a periodical, and in catalogs, advertising, and bibliographic references.

The Association will engage in active education and public relations efforts to develop, promote, and publicize standards for the usability, durability, and longevity of information media; to engage both librarians and information producers in the preservation process; and to produce educational materials devoted to promoting the longevity of information resources. The federal government must provide leadership in developing an expansive and inclusive national preservation policy. The Association urges the federal and state government to take responsibility for the longevity of information that it publishes on paper, in microform, and in digital formats.

The Association, through its ALA Washington Office and its Legislation Agenda, will strongly support the efforts of librarians to increase Federal and state government funding for preservation programs.

The preservation of primary source documents is integral to our right to know about and understand ourselves and the communities in which we live. Libraries have an obligation (a) to inform donors, users, administrators, and local officials about the ephemeral nature of primary source materials, (b) to promote strategies for the proper care, handling, and storage of these materials, and (c) to recommend the use of durable media and methods of documentation.

(See “Policy Reference File” 2007-2008 CD#55, Resolution Adopting the Definition of Digital Preservation and the Revised Preservation Policy for the American Library Association.)


B.8.3.2 Recycled Paper (Old Number 52.2.2)

The American Library Association urges all publishers, including the government, to use recycled paper for publications normally issued on nonpermanent paper and urges librarians to dispose of discarded paper so that it is available for recycling.


B.8.4 School Library Media Programs (Old Number 52.2.3)


B.8.4.1 Instruction in the Role of Libraries in Teacher Education (Old Number 52.3)

The American Library Association and the American Association of School Librarians Division recommend instruction in the role of libraries and the use of information resources as an integral part of all teacher education programs. 



B.8.4.2 The School Library Media Program (Old Number 52.3.1)

The purpose of the library media program is to ensure that students and staff are effective users of ideas and information. Within the program, the school library media specialist serves as an information specialist, teacher, and instructional consultant.


B.8.4.3 School Library Media Programs: Materials Selection Policy Statements (Old Number 52.3.2)

The American Library Association recommends that every school district have a written materials selection policy-formally adopted by the school board that includes criteria and procedures for the selection and reconsideration of resources, following the principles of the Library Bill of Rights. The Association recommends that each school building have its own collection development plan that supplements the district selection policy and provides specific guidelines for developing the school’s collection. 


B.8.5 Confidentiality of Library Records (Old Number 52.4)


B.8.5.1 The Rights of Library Users and the USA PATRIOT Act (Old Number 52.4.1)

The American Library Association opposes any use of governmental power to suppress the free and open exchange of knowledge and information or to intimidate individuals exercising free inquiry. All librarians, library administrators, library governing bodies, and library advocates are encouraged to educate their users, staff, and communities about the process for compliance with the USA Patriot Act and other related measures and about the dangers to individual privacy and the confidentiality of library records resulting from those measures. (See “Policy Reference File” The USA PATRIOTt Act and Related Measures That Infringe on the Rights of Library Users: 2002-2003 CD #20.1 - PDF, 8 pgs)


B.8.5.2 Confidentiality of Personally Identifiable Information about Library Users (Old Number 52.4.2)

The American Library Association strongly recommends that the responsible officers of each library, cooperative system, and consortium in the United States:

  1. Formally adopt a policy which specifically recognizes its circulation records and other records identifying the names of library users with specific materials to be confidential.
  2. Advise all librarians and library employees that such records shall not be made available to any agency of state, federal, or local government except pursuant to such process, order, or subpoena as may be authorized under the authority of, and pursuant to, federal, state, or local law relating to civil, criminal, or administrative discovery procedures or legislative investigatory power.
  3. Resist the issuance or enforcement of any such process, order, or subpoena until such time as a proper showing of good cause has been made in a court of competent jurisdiction.

(See “Policy Reference File”: Policy Concerning Confidentiality of Personally Identifiable Information About Library Users: 2003-04 CD#19.9 - PDF, 2 pgs)


B. Protect Library User Confidentiality in Self-Service Hold Practices  (NEW)

ALA urges all libraries that implement self-service holds to protect patron identity by adopting practices and procedures that conceal the library user’s personally identifiable information in connection with the materials being borrowed; and, urges libraries, librarians, and the responsible bodies of ALA to work with vendors to incorporate applications into integrated library systems that enable libraries to conceal a library user’s identity in a cost-effective manner. Adopted AC 2011.

(See “Policy Reference File” Resolution to Protect Library User Confidentiality in Self-Service Hold Practices: 2010-2011 ALA CD#19.3-PDF, 4 pgs.)


B.8.5.3 Immigrants’ Rights to Free Public Library Access (Old Number 52.4.3)

The American Library Association in cooperation with REFORMA and other affiliates works to inform and educate public libraries and member constituents about alternate forms of identification that will encourage the use of free public library services by all immigrant populations. (See “Policy Reference File”: Resolution in Support of Immigrants’ Rights to Free Public Library Access, 2004-2005 ALA CD #65 - PDF, 1 pg)


B.8.5.4 Retention of Library Records (Old Number 52.4.4)

ALA urges all libraries to:

  • limit the degree to which personally identifiable information is collected, monitored, disclosed, and distributed;
  • avoid creating unnecessary records;
  • limit access to personally identifiable information to staff performing authorized functions;
  • dispose of library usage records containing personally identifiable information unless they are needed for the efficient and lawful operation of the library, including, but not limited to data-related logs, digital records, vendor-collected data, and system backups;
  • ensure that the library work with its organization's information technology unit to ensure that library usage records processed or held by the IT unit are treated in accordance with library records policies;
  • ensure that those records that must be retained are secure;
  • avoid library practices and procedures that place personally identifiable information on public view;
  • assure that vendor agreements guarantee library control of all data and records; and
  • conduct an annual privacy audit to ensure that information processing procedures meet privacy requirements by examining how information about library users and employees is collected, stored, shared, used, and destroyed.

ALA also urges all libraries and the library community to:

  • adopt or update a privacy policy protecting users' personally identifiable information;
  • communicate to library users how their information is used;
  • explain the limited circumstances under which personally identifiable information could be disclosed; and
  • advocate that records retention laws and regulations limit retention of library usage records containing personally identifiable information to the time needed for efficient operation of the library.


B.8.5.5 Support of Immigrant Rights (Old Number 52.4.5)

ALA strongly supports the protection of each person's civil liberties, regardless of that individual's nationality, residency, or status; and that ALA opposes any legislation that infringes on the rights of anyone in the USA or its territories, citizens or otherwise, to use library resources, programs, and services on national, state, and local levels.


B.8.6 Library Services for Youth (Old Number 52.5)


B.8.6.1 Youth Services (Old Number 52.5.1)

The American Library Association recognizes that the future of libraries and of society itself depends upon the preparedness of youth to carry adult responsibilities for business, government, parenthood and other leadership. Children and young adults cannot fulfill their potential or that of society without high quality library opportunities through both public and school libraries. ALA is committed to the support and development of resources and services for children and young adults through both school and public libraries.


B.8.6.2 Sex Education Materials in Libraries (Old Number 52.5.2)

ALA affirms the right of youth to comprehensive, sex-related education, materials, programs, and referral services of the highest quality; affirms the active role of librarians in providing such; and urges librarians and library educators to reexamine existing policies and practices and assume a leadership role in seeing that information is available for children and adolescents, parents, and youth-serving professionals.


B.8.6.3 Selective Service Information in Libraries (Old Number 52.5.3)

Librarians should have available information on the full range of alternatives within and without the military services for those young persons who are facing the prospect of conscription.


B.8.7 Instruction in the Use of Libraries (Old Number 52.6)

In order to assist individuals in the independent information retrieval process basic to daily living in a democratic society, the American Library Association encourages all libraries to include instruction in the use of libraries as one of the primary goals of service. Libraries of all types share the responsibility to educate users in successful information location, beginning with their childhood years and continuing the education process throughout their years of professional and personal growth.


B.8.8 Privatization of Publicly Funded Libraries (Old Number 52.7)

ALA affirms that publicly funded libraries should remain directly accountable to the public they serve. Therefore, the American Library Association opposes the shifting of policy making and management oversight of library services from the public to the private for-profit sector.


B.8.9 Disinformation, Media Manipulation and the Destruction of Public Information (Old Number 52.8)

The ALA opposes the use by government of disinformation, media manipulation, the destruction and excision of public information, and other such tactics, and ALA encourages its members to help raise public consciousness regarding the many ways in which disinformation and media manipulation are being used to mislead public opinion in all spheres of life, and encourages librarians to facilitate this awareness with collection development, library programming and public outreach that draws the public's attention to those alternative sources of information dedicated to countering and revealing the disinformation often purveyed by the mainstream media. (See “Policy Reference File”: Resolution on Disinformation, Media Manipulation and The Destruction of Public Information, 2004-2005 ALA CD #64 - PDF, 6 pgs)


B.8.10 Library Services to the Poor (Old Number 61)

The American Library Association promotes equal access to information for all persons, and recognizes the urgent need to respond to the increasing number of poor children, adults, and families in America. These people are affected by a combination of limitations, including illiteracy, illness, social isolation, homelessness, hunger, and discrimination, which hamper the effectiveness of traditional library services. Therefore it is crucial that libraries recognize their role in enabling poor people to participate fully in a democratic society, by utilizing a wide variety of available resources and strategies. Concrete programs of training and development are needed to sensitize and prepare library staff to identify poor people’s needs and deliver relevant services. And within the American Library Association the coordinating mechanisms of programs and activities dealing with poor people in various divisions, offices, and units should be strengthened, and support for low-income liaison activities should be enhanced.


B.8.10.1 Policy Objectives (Old Number 61.1)

The American Library Association shall implement these objectives by:

  1. Promoting the removal of all barriers to library and information services, particularly fees and overdue charges.
  2. Promoting the publication, production, purchase, and ready accessibility of print and non-print materials that honestly address the issues of poverty and homelessness, that deal with poor people in a respectful way, and that are of practical use to low-income patrons.
  3. Promoting full, stable, and ongoing funding for existing legislative programs in support to flow income services and for pro-active library programs that reach beyond traditional service-sites to poor children, adults, and families.
  4. Promoting training opportunities for librarians, in order to teach effective techniques for generating public funding to upgrade library services to poor people.
  5. Promoting the incorporation of low-income programs and services into regular library budgets in all types of libraries, rather than the tendency to support these projects solely with "soft money" like private or federal grants.
  6. Promoting equity in funding adequate library services for poor people in terms of materials, facilities, and equipment.
  7. Promoting supplemental support for library resources for and about low-income populations by urging local, state, and federal governments, and the private sector, to provide adequate funding.
  8. Promoting increased public awareness through programs, displays, bibliographies, and publicity of the importance of poverty related library resources and services in all segments of society.
  9. Promoting the determination of output measures through the encouragement of community needs assessments, giving special emphasis to assessing the need so low-income people and involving both anti-poverty advocates and poor people themselves in such assessments.
  10. Promoting direct representation of poor people and anti-poverty advocates through appointment to local boards and creation of local advisory committees on service to low-income people, such appointments to include library paid transportation and stipends.
  11. Promoting training to sensitize library staff to issues affecting poor people and to attitudinal and other barriers that hinder poor people's use of libraries.
  12. Promoting networking and cooperation between libraries and other agencies, organizations, and advocacy groups in order to develop programs and services that effectively reach poor people.
  13. Promoting the implementation of an expanded federal low-income housing program, national health insurance, full-employment policy, living minimum wage and welfare payments, affordable daycare, and programs likely to reduce, if not eliminate, poverty itself.
  14. Promoting among library staff the collection of food and clothing donations, volunteering personal time to antipoverty activities and contributing money to direct-aid organizations.
  15. Promoting related efforts concerning minorities and women, since these groups are disproportionately represented among poor people.


B.8.11 The Role of Libraries in Providing E-Government and Emergency Services (Old Number 50.16)

The American Library Association urges governments at all levels to acknowledge and support the essential role local libraries play in providing e-government and emergency response/recovery services, and to include libraries in relevant legislative or other policy actions. The American Library Association also encourages continued research documenting library needs and capacity to provide effective e-government and emergency response/recovery services, and help libraries develop best practices and train staff to deliver these essential services.