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 Resources (Old Number 53.1.1)

Libraries: An American Value” states, “We protect the rights of individuals to express their opinions about library resources and services.” The American Library Association declares as a matter of firm principle that it is the responsibility of every library to have a clearly defined written policy for collection development that includes a procedure for review of challenged resources. Collection development applies to print and media resources or formats in the physical collection. It also applies to digital resources such as databases, e-books and other downloadable and streaming media.  Adopted 1971, amended 1990, 2014.

(See ‘‘Policy Reference File’’:  Challenged Resources: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights:  2013-2014 ALA CD#19.7_63014_act - PDF, 9 pgs).  Formerly titled: Challenged Materials: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights).

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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.

Note:  At the 2014 Annual Conference, the ALA Council amended the wording in and title to Expurgation of Library Materials: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights; now titled: Expurgation of Library Resources.  The policy abstract was not revised.

Adopted 1973, revised 1990, 2008, 2014. (See “Policy Reference File”: Expurgation of Library Materials: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights, revised, 2013–2014 ALA CD#19.10_63014 - PDF, 7 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 have access to resources and services free of constraints resulting from personal, partisan, or doctrinal disapproval. School librarians resist efforts by individuals or groups to define what is appropriate for all students or teachers to read, view, hear, or access regardless of technology, formats or method of delivery. Adopted 1986, amended 1990, 2000, 2005, 2008, 2014.

(See Policy Reference File”:  Access to Resources and Services in the School Library: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights, revised, 2013-2014 ALA CD#19.5 - PDF, 15 pgs).  Formerly entitled: Access to Resources and Services in the School Library Media: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights).

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B.2.1.4 Access to Library Resources and Services for Minors (Old Number 53.1.4)

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, or format. This principle of library service applies equally to all users, minors as well as adults. Lack of access to information can be harmful to minors. Librarians and library governing bodies must uphold this principle in order to provide adequate and effective service to minors. 

Adopted June 30, 1972; amended: AC 1981; AC 1991; AC 2004; AC 2008; and AC2014.   (See Policy Reference File”:  Access to Library Resources and Services for Minors: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights, revised, 2013-2014 ALA CD#19.4. (Formerly entitled: Free Access to Libraries for Minors: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights; also incorporates content from Access for Children and Young Adults to Nonprint Materials, B.2.1.13 (old number:  53.1.13) - PDF, 22 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)

Participation in a democratic society requires unfettered access to current social, political, economic, cultural, scientific, and religious information. Information and ideas available outside the prison are essential to prisoners for a successful transition to freedom. Learning to be free requires access to a wide range of knowledge, and suppression of ideas does not prepare the incarcerated of any age for life in a free society. Even those individuals that a lawful society chooses to imprison permanently deserve access to information, to literature, and to a window on the world. Censorship is a process of exclusion by which authority rejects specific points of view. That material contains unpopular views or even repugnant content does not provide justification for censorship. Unlike censorship, selection is a process of inclusion that involves the search for resources, regardless of format, that represent diversity and a broad spectrum of ideas. The correctional library collection should reflect the needs of its community. Adopted 2010, amended 2014.

(See Policy Reference File: Prisoners’ Right to Read: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights: 2013–2014 ALA CD#19.14_63014­_act - PDF, 12 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 that make bulletin boards available to public groups for posting notices of public interest should develop criteria for the use of these spaces based on the same considerations as those outlined above. Libraries may wish to develop criteria regarding the size of material to be displayed, the length of time materials may remain on the bulletin board, the frequency with which material may be posted for the same group, and the geographic area from which notices will be accepted.  Adopted 1991, amended 2004, 2014.

(See “Policy Reference File”: Exhibit Spaces and Bulletin Boards: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights, ALA 2013-2014 ALA CD#19.9_63014_act – PDF 8 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)

Library collections must represent the diversity of people and ideas in our society. There are many complex facets to any issue, and many contexts in which issues may be expressed, discussed, or interpreted. Librarians have an obligation to select and support access to content on all subjects that meet, as closely as possible, the needs, interests, and abilities of all persons in the community the library serves.  Adopted 1982, amended 1990, 2008, 2014.

(See “Policy Reference File”: Diversity in Collection Development:  An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights, 2013-2014 ALA CD#19.8_63014_act – PDF, 17)

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

The American Library Association is unswerving in its commitment to human rights, but cherishes a particular commitment to privacy and free expression; the two are inseparably linked and inextricably entwined with the professional practice of librarianship. We believe that the rights of privacy and free expression are not derived from any claim of political, racial, economic, or cultural hegemony.  These rights are inherent in every individual. They cannot be surrendered or subordinated, nor can they be denied, by the decree of any government or corporate interest. True justice and equality depend upon the constant exercise of these rights.

Adopted 1989, amended 2014. (See ‘‘Policy Reference File’’: The Universal Right to Free Expression: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights, ALA CD#19.17_63014_act – PDF, 7 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)

A service philosophy should be promoted that affords equal access to information for all in the academic community with no discrimination on the basis of race, age, values, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, cultural or ethnic background, physical, sensory, cognitive or learning disability, economic status, religious beliefs, or views.  Adopted 2000, amended 2014.

(See “Policy Reference File”: Intellectual Freedom Principles for Academic Libraries: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights: 2013-2014 ALA CD#19.11­_63014_act - PDF 4 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 Advocating for Intellectual Freedom (Old Number 53.1.21)

Libraries of all types foster education by promoting the free expression and interchange of ideas, leading to empowered lifelong learners.  Libraries use resources, programming, and services to strengthen intellectual and physical access to information and thus build a foundation of intellectual freedom: developing collections (both real and virtual) with multiple perspectives and individual needs of users in mind; providing programming and instructional services framed around equitable access to information and ideas; and teaching information skills and intellectual freedom rights integrated appropriately throughout the spectrum of library programming.  Adopted 2009, amended 2014.

(See “Policy Reference File” Advocating for Intellectual Freedom: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights: revised, 2013-2014 ALA CD#19.6_63014 - PDF, 6 pgs).  Formerly titled: Importance of Education to Intellectual Freedom: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights).

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

The First Amendment applies to speech created by minors on interactive sites. Use 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, amended 2014. (See “Policy Reference File”: Minors and Internet Activity: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights: 2013-2014 ALA CD#19.13_63014_act). Formerly titled: Minors and Internet Interactivity: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights).

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

Participation in a democratic society requires unfettered access to current social, political, economic, cultural, scientific, and religious information. Information and ideas available outside the prison are essential to prisoners for a successful transition to freedom. Learning to be free requires access to a wide range of knowledge, and suppression of ideas does not prepare the incarcerated of any age for life in a free society. Even those individuals that a lawful society chooses to imprison permanently deserve access to information, to literature, and to a window on the world. Censorship is a process of exclusion by which authority rejects specific points of view. That material contains unpopular views or even repugnant content does not provide justification for censorship. Unlike censorship, selection is a process of inclusion that involves the search for resources, regardless of format, that represent diversity and a broad spectrum of ideas. The correctional library collection should reflect the needs of its community. Adopted 2010, amended 2014.

(See Policy Reference File: Prisoners’ Right to Read: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights: 2013–2014 ALA CD#19.14_63014­_act – PDF, 6 pgs.  )

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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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