B.2 Intellectual Freedom (Old Number 53)

 


B.2.1 Library Bill of Rights (Old Number 53.1)

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 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 June18, 1948.  Amended February 2,1961,  June 27, 1967, and January 23, 1980, by the ALA Council (PDF, 1 pg)

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B.2.1.1 Challenged Materials (Old Number 53.1.1)

Challenged materials that meet the criteria for selection in the materials selection policy of the library should not be removed under any legal or extra-legal pressure.

Adopted 1971, revised 1990. ( See ‘‘Policy Reference File’’: Challenged Materials: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights: 1989-;90 CD #61.2. - PDF, 1 pg)

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B.2.1.2 Expurgation of Library Materials (Old Number 53.1.2)

The act of expurgation denies access to the complete work and the entire spectrum of ideas that the work is intended to express. This is censorship. Expurgation based on the premise that certain portions of a work may be harmful to minors is equally a violation of the Library Bill of Rights.

Adopted 1973, revised 1990, 2008. (See “Policy Reference File”: Expurgation of Library Materials: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights, revised, 2007-2008 ALA CD#19.6. - PDF, 2 pgs)

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B.2.1.3 Access to Resources and Services in the School Library Media Program (Old Number 53.1.3)

Members of the school community involved in the collection development process employ educational criteria to select resources unfettered by their personal, political, social, or religious views. Students and educators served by the school library media program have access to resources and services free of constraints resulting from personal, partisan, or doctrinal disapproval. School library media specialists resist efforts by individuals or groups to define what is appropriate for all students or teachers to read, view, hear, or access via electronic means.

Adopted 1986, amended 1990, 2000, 2005. (See “Policy Reference File”: Access to Resources and Services in the School Library Media Program: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights: revised, 2007-2008 ALA CD#19.3. - PDF, 3 pgs)

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B.2.1.4 Free Access to Libraries for Minors (Old Number 53.1.4)

Lack of access to information can be harmful to minors. Librarians and library governing bodies have a public and professional obligation to ensure that all members of the community they serve have free, equal, and equitable access to the entire range of library resources regardless of content, approach, format, or amount of detail. This principle of library service applies equally to all users, minors as well as adults. Librarians and library governing bodies must uphold this principle in order to provide adequate and effective service to minors.

Adopted 1972, amended 1981, 1992, 2004, and 2008. (See “Policy Reference File”: Free Access to Libraries for Minors: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights, revised, 2007-2008 ALA CD#19.7. - PDF, 3 pgs)

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B.2.1.5 Evaluating Library Collections (Old Number 53.1.5)

Evaluation of library materials is not to be used as a convenient means to remove materials that might be viewed as controversial or objectionable.

Adopted 1973, amended 1981, 2008. (See “Policy Reference File”: Evaluating Library Collections: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights, revised, 2007-2008 ALA CD#19.5. - PDF, 2 pgs)

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B.2.1.6 Restricted Access to Library Materials (Old Number 53.1.6)

Attempts to restrict access to library materials violate the basic tenets of the Library Bill of Rights. Policies to protect library materials for reasons of physical preservation, protection from theft, or mutilation must be carefully formulated and administered with extreme attention to the principles of intellectual freedom. All proposals for restricted access collections should be carefully scrutinized to ensure that the purpose is not to suppress a view point or to place a barrier between certain patrons and particular content. A primary goal of the library profession is to facilitate access to all points of view on current and historical issues.

Adopted 1973, amended 1981,1991, 2000,and2004. (See “Policy Reference File”: Restricted Access to Library Materials: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights: 1999-2000 CD#19.4. - PDF, 9 pgs)

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B.2.1.7 Labeling and Rating Systems (Old Number 53.1.7)

Prejudicial labeling and ratings presuppose the existence of individuals or groups with wisdom to determine by authority what is appropriate or inappropriate for others. They presuppose that individuals must be directed in making up their minds about the ideas they examine. The American Library Association affirms the rights of individuals to form their own opinions about resources they choose to read or view.

Adopted 1951, amended 1971, 1981, 1990, 2005, 2009. (See "Policy Reference File": Labeling and Rating Systems: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights: 2008-09 ALA CD #19.7. - PDF, 13 pgs)

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B.2.1.8 Exhibit Spaces and Bulletin Boards (Old Number 53.1.8)

Libraries maintaining exhibit spaces and bulletin boards for outside groups and individuals should develop and publish statements governing use to assure that space is provided on a equitable basis to all groups that request it. A publicly supported library may designate use of exhibit space for strictly library-related activities, provided that this limitation is viewpoint neutral and clearly defined. Libraries may include in this policy rules regarding the time, place, and manner of use of the exhibit space, so long as the rules are content neutral and are applied in the same manner to all groups wishing to use the space.

Adopted 1991, amended 2004. (See “Policy Reference File”: Exhibit Spaces and Bulletin Boards: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights. - PDF, 6 pgs)

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B.2.1.9 Meeting Rooms (Old Number 53.1.9)

Libraries maintaining meeting room facilities should develop and publish statements governing use. These statements can properly define time, place, or manner of use; such qualifications should not pertain to the content of a meeting or to the beliefs or affiliations of the sponsors. If meeting rooms in libraries supported by public funds are made available to the general public for non-library sponsored events, the library may not exclude any group based on the subject matter to be discussed or based on the ideas that the group advocates. A publicly supported library may limit use of its meeting rooms to strictly ‘‘library related’’ activities, provided that the limitation is clearly circumscribed and is viewpoint neutral.

Adopted 1991. (See ‘‘Policy Reference File’’: Meeting Rooms: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights. - PDF, 5 pgs)

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B.2.1.10 Library Initiated Programs as a Resource (Old Number 53.1.10)

A policy on library-initiated programming should set forth the library’s commitment to free access to information and ideas for all users. Library staff select programs based on the interests and information needs of the community. Libraries servicing multilingual or multicultural communities should make efforts to accommodate the information needs of those for whom English is a second language.

Adopted 1982, revised 1990, 2000. (See “Policy Reference File”: Library Initiated Programs as a Resource: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights: 1999-2000 CD #19.4 - PDF, 7 pgs)

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B.2.1.11 Diversity in Collection Development (Old Number 53.1.11)

Librarians have a professional responsibility to be inclusive, not exclusive, in collection development and in the provision of interlibrary loan.  Access to all materials and resources legally obtainable should be assured to the user, and policies should not unjustly exclude materials and resources even if they are offensive to the librarian or the user.  This includes materials and resources that reflect a diversity of political, economic, religious, social, minority, and sexual issues.  A balanced collection reflects a diversity of materials and resources, not an equality of numbers.

Adopted 1982, amended 1990, 2008. (See “Policy Reference File”: Diversity in Collection Development:  An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights, revised, 2007-2008 ALA CD#19.4. - PDF, 2 pgs)

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B.2.1.12 Universal Right to Free Expression (Old Number 53.1.12)

The American Library Association believes that freedom of expression is an inalienable human right, necessary to self-government, vital to the resistance of oppression, and crucial to the cause of justice, and further, that the principles of freedom of expression should be applied by libraries and librarians throughout the world.

Adopted 1989. (See ‘‘Policy Reference File’’: The Universal Right to Free Expression: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights: 1990-91 CD #18.1. - PDF, 2 pgs)

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B.2.1.13 Access for Children and Young Adults to Nonprint Materials (Old Number 53.1.13)

Recognizing that librarians cannot act in loco parentis, policies which set minimum age limits for access to nonprint materials and equipment with or without parental permission abridge library use for minors. Nevertheless, ALA acknowledges and supports the exercise by parents of their responsibility to guide their own children’s viewing, using published reviews of films and videotapes and reference works that provide information about the content, subject matter, and recommended audiences.

Adopted 1989, revised 1991and 2004. (See “Policy Reference File”: Access for Children and Young Adults to Nonprint Materials: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights:1988-89CD#92.6. - PDF, 7 pgs)

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B.2.1.14 Economic Barriers to Information Access (Old Number 53.1.14)

The American Library Association opposes the charging of user fees for the provision of information by all libraries and information services that receive their major support from public funds. All information resources that are provided directly or indirectly by the library, regardless of technology, format, or methods of delivery, should be readily, equally, and equitably accessible to all library users. The ALA opposes any legislative or regulatory attempt to impose content restrictions on library resources, or to limit user access to information, as a condition of funding for publicly supported libraries and information services.

Adopted 1993. (See also Policies B.4.2, B.5.2, B.3.1, and B.8.10.1). (See ‘‘Policy Reference File’’: Economic Barriers to Information Access: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights: 1992-93 CD #26.6.2. - PDF, 2 pgs)

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B.2.1.15 Access to Library Resources and Services Regardless of Sex, Gender Identity, Gender Expression, or Sexual Orientation (Old Number 53.1.15)

The American Library Association stringently and unequivocally maintains that libraries and librarians have an obligation to resist efforts that systematically exclude materials dealing with any subject matter, including sex, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation. The Association also encourages librarians to proactively support the First Amendment rights of all library users, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression.

Adopted 1993, amended 2000, 2004, 2008, 2010. (See "Policy Reference File": Access to Library Resources and Services Regardless of Sex, Gender Identity, or Sexual Orientation: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights: revised, 2007-2008 ALA CD#19.2 - PDF, 3 pgs

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B.2.1.16 Privacy (Old Number 53.1.16)

In a library (physical or virtual), the right to privacy is the right to open inquiry without having the subject of one’s interest examined or scrutinized by others. Confidentiality exists when a library is in possession of personally identifiable information about users and keeps that information private on their behalf. Protecting user privacy and confidentiality is necessary for intellectual freedom and fundamental to the ethics and practice of librarianship.

(See “Policy Reference File”: Privacy: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights: 2001-2002 CD#19.6. - PDF, 5 pgs)

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B.2.1.17 Use of Filtering Software in Libraries (Old Number 53.1.17)

The ALA affirms that the use of filtering software by libraries to block access to constitutionally protected speech violates the Library Bill of Rights.

(See “Policy Reference File”: Resolution on the Use of Filtering Software in Libraries, 1996-97 CD #19.4 - PDF, 1 pg)

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B.2.1.18 Intellectual Freedom Principles for Academic Libraries (Old Number 53.1.18)

The general principles set forth in the Library Bill of Rights form an indispensable framework for building collections, services, and policies that serve the entire academic community. Among many other requirements, academic libraries must protect the privacy of their users; develop collections without consideration of personal values; maintain a balance of materials; provide open and unfiltered access to the Internet; promote a service philosophy that affords equal access to information for all in the academic community without discrimination of any kind; and ensure a procedure of due process for dealing with the removal or addition of library resources, exhibits, or services.

Adopted 2000. (See “Policy Reference File”: Intellectual Freedom Principles for Academic Libraries: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights: 1999-2000 CD #19.8 - PDF, 2 pgs)

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B.2.1.19 Access to Digital Information, Services, and Networks (Old Number 53.1.19)

Freedom of expression is an inalienable human right and the foundation for self-government. Freedom of expression encompasses the freedom of speech and the corollary right to receive information. Libraries and librarians protect and promote these rights regardless of the format or technology employed to create and disseminate information.

Adopted 1996, amended 2005, 2009. (See "Policy Reference File": Access to Digital Information, Services, and Networks: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Ri ghts: 2008-09 ALA CD #19.5 - PDF, 4 pgs).

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B.2.1.20 Services to Persons with Disabilities (Old Number 53.1.20)

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution mandates the right of all persons to free expression and the corollary right to receive the constitutionally protected expression of others. A person's right to use the library should not be denied or abridged because of disabilities.  The library has the responsibility to provide materials “for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves.”  (See also the Library Bill of Rights.)  When information in libraries is not presented in formats that are accessible to all users, discriminatory barriers are created.

Adopted 2009. (See “Policy Reference File”: Services to Persons with Disabilities: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights: revised, 2008-2009 ALA CD#19.3 - PDF, 3 pgs)

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B.2.1.21 Importance of Education to Intellectual Freedom (Old Number 53.1.21)

Importance of Education to Intellectual Freedom Libraries of all types foster education by promoting the free expression and interchange of ideas. Libraries use resources, programming, and services to strengthen intellectual and physical access to information and thus build a foundation of intellectual freedom: collections (both real and Virtual) are developed with mUltiple perspectives and individual needs of users in mind; programming and instructional services are framed around equitable access to information and ideas; and teaching of information skills is integrated appropriately throughout the spectrum of library programming and leads to empowered lifelong learners. Through educational programming and instruction in information skills, libraries empower individuals to explore ideas, access and evaluate information, draw meaning from information presented in a variety of formats, develop valid conclusions, and express new ideas. Such education facilitates intellectual access to information and offers a path to intellectual freedom.

Adopted 2009. (See “Policy Reference File”: Importance of Education to Intellectual Freedom: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights: 2008-09 CD#19.6)

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B.2.1.22 Minors and Internet Interactivity (Old Number 53.1.22)

The First Amendment applies to speech created by minors on interactive sites. Usage of these social networking sites in a school or library allows minors to access and create resources that fulfill their interests and needs for information, for social connection with peers, and for participation in a community of learners. Restricting expression and access to interactive Web sites because the sites provide tools for sharing information with others violates the tenets of the Library Bill of Rights. It is the responsibility of librarians and educators to monitor threats to the intellectual freedom of minors and to advocate for extending access to interactive applications on the Internet.

Adopted 2009. (See “Policy Reference File”: Minors and Internet Interactivity: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights: 2008-09 #CD 19.8)

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B.2.1.23 Prisoners' Right to Read (Old Number 53.1.23)

The American Library Association asserts a compelling public interest in the preservation of intellectual freedom for individuals of any age held in jails, prisons, detention facilities, juvenile facilities, immigration facilities, prison work camps and segregated units within any facility. Those who cherish their full freedom and rights should work to guarantee that the right to intellectual freedom is extended to all incarcerated individuals. Adopted 2010.

(See Policy Reference File: Prisoners’ Right to Read: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights: 2009–2010 ALA CD#19.3 - PDF, 2 pages)

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B.2.2 Freedom to View (Old Number 53.2)

The American Library Association endorses Freedom to View, a statement of the American Film and Video Association.

(See ‘‘Policy Reference File’’: Freedom to View, revised 1990; 1989-90 CD #61.5. - PDF, 2 pgs)

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B.2.3 Freedom to Read (Old Number 53.3)

The American Library Association endorses Freedom to Read, a joint statement by the American Library Association and the Association of American Publishers. Adopted 1953, revised 1972, 1991, 2000, and 2004.

(See “Policy Reference File”: Freedom to Read: 2003-04 ALA CD#19.11 - PDF, 17 pgs)

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B.2.3.1 Linguistic Pluralism (Old Number 53.3.1)

The American Library Association opposes all language laws, legislation, and regulations which restrict the rights of citizens who speak and read languages other than English, and those language laws, legislation, and regulations which abridge pluralism and diversity in library collections and services. The Association works with state associations and other agencies in devising ways to counteract restrictions arising from existing language laws and regulations, and encourages and supports the provision of library resources and services in the languages in common use in each community in the United States.

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B.2.4 Governmental Intimidation (Old Number 53.4)

The American Library Association opposes any use of governmental prerogatives that lead to the intimidation of individuals or groups and discourages them from exercising the right of free expression as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. ALA encourages resistance to such abuse of governmental power and supports those against whom such governmental power has been employed.

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B.2.5 Support of Academic Freedom (Old Number 53.5)

The American Library Association reaffirms the principles of academic freedom embodied in the American Association of University Professors’ “Statement on Academic Freedom and Tenure” (1940), and opposes any legislation or codification of documents (e.g. the “Academic Bill of Rights” (ABOR)) that undermine academic or intellectual freedom, chill free speech, and/or otherwise interfere with the academic community’s well-established norms and values of scholarship and educational excellence.

(See “Policy Reference File”: Resolution in Support of Academic Freedom 2005-2006 ALA CD 36 - PDF, 9 pgs).

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B.2.6 Shield Laws (Old Number 53.6)

The American Library Association supports the enactment by Congress of a broad and effective federal shield law. The Association exhorts its chapters to work vigorously for the enactment of broad and effective shield laws in every state.

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B.2.7 Loyalty Oaths (Old Number 53.7)

The American Library Association protests conditions of employment predicated on inquiries into library employees’ thoughts, reading matter, associates, or memberships in organizations. The Association also protests compulsory affirmations of allegiance as a condition of employment in libraries and calls on libraries not to impose loyalty tests or oaths as conditions of employment.

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B.2.8 Destruction of Libraries (Old Number 53.8)

The American Library Association deplores the destruction of libraries, library collections and property, and the disruption of the educational process by that act, whether it be done by individuals or groups of individuals and whether it be in the name of honest dissent, the desire to control or limit thought or ideas, or for any other purpose.

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B.2.9 Libraries: An American Value (Old Number 53.9)

Libraries in America are cornerstones of the communities they serve. Free access to the books, ideas, resources, and information in America’s libraries is imperative for education, employment, enjoyment, and self-government. 

Libraries are a legacy to each generation, offering the heritage of the past and the promise of the future. To ensure that libraries flourish and have the freedom to promote and protect the public good in the 21st century, we believe certain principles must be guaranteed.

To that end, we affirm this contract with the people we serve:

  • We defend the constitutional rights of all individuals, including children and teenagers, to use the library’s resources and services;

 

  • We value our nation’s diversity and strive to reflect that diversity by providing a full spectrum of resources and services to the communities we serve;

 

  • We affirm the responsibility and the right of all parents and guardians to guide their own children’s use of the library and its resources and services;

 

  • We connect people and ideas by helping each person select and effectively use the library’s resources; We protect each individual’s privacy and confidentiality in the use of library resources and services; We protect the rights of individuals to express their opinions about library resources and services;

 

  • We celebrate and preserve our democratic society by making available the widest possible range of viewpoints, opinions and ideas, so that all individuals have the opportunity to become lifelong learners – informed, literate, educated, and culturally enriched.

 

  • Change is constant, but these principles transcend change and endure in a dynamic technological, social, and political environment.

 

  • By embracing these principles, libraries in the United States can contribute to a future that values and protects freedom of speech in a world that celebrates both our similarities and our differences, respects individuals and their beliefs, and holds all persons truly equal and free.

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B.2.10 Violence in the Media: A Joint Statement (Old Number 53.10)

The American Library Association endorses Violence in the Media: A Joint Statement, a statement of the Association of American Publishers, Inc.

(See “Policy Reference File”: Violence in the Media: A Joint Statement: 2000-2001 CD #19.3 - PDF, 6 pgs)

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B.2.11 Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology and Privacy Principles  (Old Number 53.11)

All businesses, organizations, libraries, educational institutions, and non-profits that buy, sell, loan, or otherwise make available books and other content to the public utilizing RFID technologies shall:

  1. Implement and enforce an up-to-date organizational privacy policy that gives notice and full disclosure as to the use, terms of use, and any change in the terms of use for data collected via new technologies and processes, including RFID.
  2. Ensure that no personal information is recorded on RFID tags, which, however, may contain a variety of transactional data.
  3. Protect data by reasonable security safeguards against interpretation by an unauthorized third party.
  4. Comply with relevant federal, state, and local laws as well as industry best practices and policies.
  5. Ensure that the four principles outlined above must be verifiable by an independent audit.

Adopted 2005. (See “Policy Reference File”: Resolution on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology and Privacy Principles: 2004-05 CD#19.1 - PDF, 6 pgs)

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B.2.12 Threats to Library Materials Related to Sex, Gender Identity, or Sexual Orientation  (Old Number 53.12)

The American Library Association supports the inclusion in library collections of materials that reflect the diversity of our society, including those related to sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression. ALA encourages all American Library Association chapters to take active stands against all legislative or other government attempts to proscribe materials related to sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression; and encourages all libraries to acquire and make available materials representative of all the people in our society.

Adopted 2005, Amended 2009, 2010. (See "Policy Reference File": Resolution on Threats to Library Materials Related to Sex, Gender Identity, or Sexual Orientation, 2004-2005 ALA CD#57)

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