The Board of Trustees of Athens County Public Libraries affirm that our freedom to read, to speak, to hear, and to view is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; and subscribe to the Library Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read Statement adopted by the Council of the American Library Association.
It is the goal of the Athens County Public Libraries to provide the community with informational and recreational materials of all kinds, and to meet the needs and interests of all the diverse residents of Athens County. Such materials include books, magazines, newspapers, video recordings, sound recordings, microfilm, computer files, electronic databases, and all other forms of information provided by the Library to the community.
The Board believes that every person has the right of access to every shade of authoritative opinion on every subject at varying levels of difficulty, complexity and length. It is not the place of the Library to exclude any opinion merely because it is unorthodox or unpopular. The Board also believes that all people have the right to form their own opinions after reading, hearing or viewing materials suiting them for their own purposes, without interference by persons or groups who may wish to ban or prohibit some materials.
The Library recognizes the need to provide children with a wide variety of recreational and informational materials in all subject areas and on all reading levels. The purpose of this is to encourage reading for enjoyment and the acquisition of knowledge, and to increase understanding of oneself and the world at large. In light of this goal, children will be given access to the entire collection. It is the parents’ responsibility to supervise their child’s reading interests; it is the responsibility of the Library to provide information and a variety of viewpoints from which the child, under their parents’ supervision, may select.
The Library will provide access to legally obtainable materials, and will not exclude access to materials even if such materials offend a library staff member or some members of the community. When an item is considered for addition or retention, that item is evaluated as a whole, not on the basis of a particular section or sections. An item will not be added to, or barred from, the collection solely because of:
- An author’s race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or political or social views.
- A work’s depictions or descriptions of violence or sexual activity.
- A work’s controversial content.
- An author or work’s endorsement or disapproval by any individual or community group.
A policy cannot replace the judgment of librarians, but will assist them in choosing from the vast array of materials available. Selection of materials is performed by various library staff members as assigned. Final responsibility for materials selection rests with the director who administers under authority of the Board.
Because the ability to purchase and store materials is limited by the size of both budget and buildings, the Library has established criteria for the addition and retention of library materials. These criteria may be applied to all formats, and include, but are not limited to:
- Suitability of subject and style for the intended audience
- Present and potential relevance to community needs and interests
- Timeliness or permanent value
- Relation to existing collection, including the need to balance differing viewpoints of the same subject
- Reliability, completeness and up-to-dateness of the information
- Reputation of the author
- Attention of critics and reviewers
- Reputation and standards of the publisher;
- Scarcity of information in the subject area
- Availability of material elsewhere in the community
- Demand of library users
- Local interest (author or subject)
In order to maintain a collection that is current and relevant to the community’s needs, library staff periodically evaluate the collection as a whole, as well as specific items within it. When deciding what items to withdraw from the collection, staff may consider the material’s condition, use, timeliness, and accuracy, among other factors. When withdrawn materials cannot be readily or practicably sold by the Library, the Library may offer withdrawn materials to the Friends of the Library or other groups or organizations whose purpose is consistent with the Library’s mission. These groups may resell these materials, or use them for other purposes consistent with the Library’s mission.
If an individual, group of persons, or organization believes that a specific title or resource should not be in the collection, they should first discuss their concerns about the material with the library staff. If following the discussion they still wish the Library to reconsider the title or source, they must fill out a “Request for Reconsideration of Library Material” form. Because items are evaluated as a whole, an item will not be reconsidered unless the patron making the request has read/viewed/heard the entire item. A reconsideration form submitted without the name of the person making the objection will not be considered. If the material has been previously reconsidered, it will not be reconsidered again unless the more recent request is based on substantially different reasons than an earlier request.
The request will be referred to the director for review. The patron will be informed in writing of the receipt of the request and the decision. If the patron is not satisfied with the decision, he or she may appeal in writing to the Board. The Board will make a decision and inform the patron in writing, usually following the next regularly scheduled Board meeting. The title under consideration will remain in the collection throughout the process to support the freedom of other patrons to read, view, or listen.
Adopted September 21, 2021