In recent months, the Rhode Island Library Association (RILA) has observed a few individuals and organizations advancing the proposition that the voices of the marginalized have no place on library shelves. They have launched campaigns demanding the censorship of books, resources, and instruction that provide information and depict the authentic experiences of marginalized individuals. Falsely claiming that these materials are subversive, immoral, or worse, these groups induce elected and non-elected officials to abandon Constitutional principles, ignore the rule of law, and disregard individual rights in order to promote government censorship of library collections.
RILA is committed to upholding our core values, which include equitable access to knowledge, social justice, and intellectual freedom. We stand firm in opposing any effort to censor materials, suppress knowledge, label views as “controversial,” or dictate what is orthodox in history, politics, or belief. The unfettered exchange of ideas is essential to the preservation of a free and democratic society.
RILA stands with the American Library Association (ALA) and condemns book challenges and the removal of books from libraries across the country that some community members may find objectionable. Efforts to censor any library resources or materials that consider or discuss racism, slavery, Black American history, Indigenous history, LGBTQ+ history and issues, and related issues and concerns pose a real and present threat to libraries’ ability to fulfill their role as trusted community institutions that provide factual and accurate information that reflects the breadth of the American experience.
Libraries manifest the promises of the First Amendment by making available the widest possible range of viewpoints, opinions, and ideas, so that every person has the opportunity to freely read and consider information and ideas, regardless of their content or the viewpoint. This requires the professional expertise of librarians who work in partnership with their communities to collect materials that serve the information needs of all their users.
RILA is committed to defending the Constitutional rights of all individuals of all ages to use the resources and services of libraries. We champion and defend the freedom to speak, the freedom to publish, and the freedom to read, as promised by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
RILA strongly condemns acts of censorship and intimidation that target the safety and livelihoods of library workers, educators, and board members who have dedicated themselves to public service, informing our communities, and educating our youth. RILA pledges to join with library workers and libraries to oppose any proposal to censor materials, curricula, or programs. Further, we commit to supporting libraries, library workers, public libraries, schools, colleges, and universities facing these challenges and developing tools that will prepare library workers to defend their collections, counter falsehoods, and engage their communities in important conversations about injustice and empowering everyone to fully participate in our democratic society.
Questions about RILA’s position on this and related issues may be directed to email@example.com.
The Importance of Policies: Promoting Our Principles in Practice
In this presentation recorded on September 21, 2022, Martin Garnar discusses current concerns about library resources and services and learn about best practices for library policies that support us in promoting intellectual freedom and social justice.
Martin Garnar, PhD, is the director of the Amherst College Library and the editor of the 10th edition of the Intellectual Freedom Manual. His professional activities and speaking schedule reflect a profound inability to say no. A native New Yorker, Martin lives in western Massachusetts with his husband Mark and their impossibly cute miniature dachshunds.
Share the following list of resources to inform your public about how to respond to book challenges:
The list below provides just a sample of resources available to library workers and community members in addressing challenges to library materials: