Guidelines for Reconsideration Committees

Under the best professional standards, reconsideration policies ask those charged with reviewing a challenged book to set aside their personal beliefs and evaluate the work in light of the objective standards outlined in the library’s materials selection policy.  Listed are some best practices for Reconsideration Committee members.

  • Bear in mind the principles of the freedom to read and base your decision on these broad principles rather than on defense of individual materials. The freedom to read is essential to our democracy.
  • Read all materials referred to you including the full text of the material in question and read available reviews.
  • Review library mission statement, policies, and professional guides.
  • The general acceptance of the materials should be checked by consulting standard evaluation aids and selection policies.
  • Challenged materials should not be removed from the collection while under reconsideration.
  • Passages or parts should not be pulled out of context. The values and faults should be weighed against each other and the opinions based on the materials as a whole.
  • In order to prevent a tie, the library director should recruit an odd number of members for the committee.
  • While it may be prudent to state what area/role a committee member represents in the makeup of the committee (ie, teacher, librarian, community member, administration, parent, etc), the personal identification should remain anonymous to protect the objectivity of the deliberation.
  • While there may be a need for public comments to be heard, the reconsideration committee meeting should be closed. Public Comments can be directed to the director or governing body.
  • The committee’s recommendation is to be an objective evaluation of the material within the scope of a library’s collection policy.
  • Your report, presenting both majority and minority opinions, should be presented to the governing body with a recommendation to retain the material in its original location, to relocate the material to an advisory location, or to remove the material.
  • Establish a procedure for communicating the committee’s recommendation to the governing body and to the person who made the formal reconsideration request. For example, the committee communicates its decision to the director, who then communicates the decision to the person who make the challenge as well as to the library’s governing board.

Sample Reconsideration Committee Report

Title: ____________________________________________ Author: ________________________________________

Has every member of the committee read the material entirely?  If not, why?

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Resources consulted: (include policies, articles, reviews etc.)

________________________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Reconsideration committee recommends:

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Justification and comments: (include majority and minority positions)

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Signatures of Reconsideration Committee Members:

 

Date: ____________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Printable PDF including the Freedom to Read Statement 

Updated 2017