For immediate release | July 3, 2018

Council adopts three revisions to Library Bill of Rights interpretations

At ALA’s Annual Conference in New Orleans, ALA Council adopted three Library Bill of Rights interpretation revisions — proposed by the Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) — that cover meeting rooms, library-initiated programs, and services to people with disabilities.

IFC strengthened the 1991 “Meeting Rooms: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights” by adding legal citations; expanding the text on the purpose of meetings rooms; and clarifying the description of admission fees. The interpretation cites specific examples of groups that may choose to use meeting rooms.

“If a library allows charities, non-profits, and sports organizations to discuss their activities in library meeting rooms,” states the interpretation, “then the library cannot exclude religious, social, civic, partisan political, or hate groups from discussing their activities in the same facilities.”

A follow-up Q&A about meeting rooms is planned to address specific questions raised by library workers when the interpretation draft was distributed for feedback.

Library-Initiated Programs as a Resource: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights” — adopted in 1982 and amended in 1990 and 2000 — now includes a section on accessibility and services to people with disabilities, and a statement on defending the First Amendment rights of both speakers and attendees.

The committee reformatted the 2009 interpretation “Services to Persons with Disabilities” to make clear connections between each Library Bill of Rights article and library services provided to people with disabilities. The title was also changed to “Services to People with Disabilities: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights.” The interpretation contains guidance on collections, vendors, technology, training and partnerships.

“The three updated interpretations provide current guidance to the library community and remind us that the Library Bill of Rights and its interpretations continue to be significant and relevant documents,” said Helen Adams, the outgoing IFC chair.

The three interpretations will be included in the 10th edition of the Intellectual Freedom Manual, published by ALA Editions. The committee estimates that at least 13 additional intellectual freedom documents will need revisions before the manual is published in 2020. Interpretation drafts will be published on ALA Connect for members to provide feedback.

All Library Bill of Rights interpretations can be found on the ALA website.

About the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee

The ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee, a committee of Council, recommends policies, practices and procedures to safeguard the rights of patrons, libraries and librarians, in accordance with the First Amendment and the Library Bill of Rights.

About the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom is charged with implementing ALA policies concerning the concept of intellectual freedom as embodied in the Library Bill of Rights. Established in 1967, the office provides library resources on a range of intellectual freedom subjects. OIF supports the work of the Intellectual Freedom Committee.


Eleanor Diaz

Program Officer

Office for Intellectual Freedom