top of page

Collection Development Policy

Approved by the York County Library Board of Trustees on June 4, 1991

Last revised by the Library Board of Trustees May 18, 2023


Because it is publicly financed, the York County Library will attempt to meet as many of the informational, educational, recreational, and cultural needs of York County residents as is possible. The library shall strive to maintain a well balanced, current, and representative collection within the budget and space limitations which must be considered when undertaking this charge.


The library’s mission is to acquire, organize, and make freely available to all people of the County informational, educational, and recreational materials in convenient format. This format may include books, periodicals, newspapers, audiovisual, online resources, and other materials as outlined in this policy statement.


The library endorses and will attempt to follow the concepts of the Library Bill of Rights and the Freedom to Read statements included in this document as Appendix I and Appendix II.



The purpose of this policy statement is to set the guidelines by which selection will be made and to define what limitations must be set in the selection and purchase of library materials. It is intended to inform the public, governing bodies, and others about the principles upon which selections are made and about the scope and nature of the collection. It is also intended to serve as a tool for meeting the objections of individuals or groups concerned with the inclusion or rejection of specific titles.


Legal Basis:

Pursuant to State Law and County Ordinance, the York County Library Board of Trustees is empowered to “Acquire books and other library materials and provide for use thereof throughout the county.”


This Collection Development Policy has, therefore, been approved by the Trustees, who have delegated to the Library Director the responsibility for administration of the Policy. The actual selection of materials is performed by various members of the library staff, appointed by the Library Director, who are qualified by reason of education, training, and experience.


Future Revision:

The changing information needs of the residents of York County should be reflected in the Collection Development Policy. This Policy should not, therefore, be seen as a final statement but rather a declaration of the current needs of county residents. It will be reviewed annually and revised as required to meet the future needs of the library’s users.

Selection Criteria:

No single standard can be applied in all cases when making an acquisitions decision. Some materials will be judged primarily in terms of literary merit, scholarship, or overall value to society. Some will be selected to satisfy the informational, educational, or recreational needs of county residents. Other materials will be selected because of widespread demand by patrons. The final decision will be made based on the application of some or all of the following criteria:


  • Interest of the community (known and potential)

  • Contemporary significance

  • Permanent value to the collection

  • Importance of the subject to balance the collection

  • Favorable review in standard selection source(s)

  • Appearance in special bibliographies or indexes

  • Availability of information elsewhere in the library or via reliable online resources

  • Authority of author(s), editor(s), or publisher(s)

  • Clear presentation and/or readability

  • Durability and appropriateness of the format to the subject matter

  • Price

  • Shelving or storage space available in the library


Standard Review Sources:

In choosing materials for addition to the collection, library staff members will use current, scholarly, vetted review sources such as print and online professional journals and bibliographies. A recommendation for purchase is sought from one or more of these sources before purchase of most library materials. Some publisher reviews from catalogs or online resources may also be used in selecting library materials.


Duplication of Titles:

The decision to purchase duplicate titles is made on the basis of the title’s importance and its continuing need or popularity. Many titles purchased are duplicated for use in the branch libraries. Standard, classic children’s titles should be duplicated as much as necessary. Bestsellers, whose popularity will be limited by time, should be duplicated through purchasing and/or leasing additional copies until the demand wanes.

Subject Areas: Adult:


000s — Generalities

Emphasis will be placed on the use and operation of computers including hardware and software. Representative coverage will be given to other subjects in this area as needs are recognized.


100s — Philosophy

Historical and classical standard works are purchased and maintained. Recent writings which examine issues and problems of human concern are also acquired. In the area of popular philosophy, parapsychology, and occultism, public demand is a major consideration in the library’s selection of materials.


200s — Religion

Important writers of both Western and Eastern countries, and the sacred or distinctive books of well-known religions and sects are represented. Popular religious writings offering spiritual guidance and comfort are selected. General Christian church histories and denominational histories are acquired as are explanations of doctrines directed toward the lay person. General books and histories of non-Christian religions and comparative religion are also selected. The mythologies of diverse cultures, with special emphasis on Greek and Roman mythologies, are acquired.


300s — Social Sciences

The library attempts to provide materials of general interest on all areas of the social sciences as it is the second most popular non-fiction area used by the public. Works dealing with current, controversial, and social issues (i.e., abortion, child abuse, crime, divorce, adoption, etc.) are collected. Issues relating to government, current events, and political science are acquired. Popular and standard materials are purchased on the subjects of personal finance, law, etiquette, vocational and career guides, and folk traditions and culture. Study guides for basic education, scholastic achievement tests, armed forces tests, and civil service exams are added frequently.


400s — Language

Materials selected include the history, study, and use of the English language. This includes up-to-date dictionaries and grammar. The collection includes books for teaching sign language to the deaf as well as learning aides for popular foreign languages, basic dictionaries, and grammar. Materials in foreign languages representing significant populations of non-English speaking patrons and foreign languages taught in local school curriculums will be collected as resources permit. Patron requests may also be met through consortial and interlibrary loan.

500s — Pure Sciences

The library purchases for the general, non-specialist reader to reflect today’s emphasis on scientific techniques and achievements and the current interest of lay persons in this field. It includes a representation of current, up-to-date materials in all branches of the pure sciences — mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, geology, paleontology, life sciences, biology, and zoology. Science fair project books are purchased to meet the demands of school assignments. Textbooks may be acquired when they provide the best up-to-date information.


600s — Applied Sciences and Technology

Collection development is intensive in this, the most popular area of adult non-fiction. Current, popular, and useful materials for the lay person in most fields of the applied sciences are acquired. Emphasis is placed on the addition of current, accurate treatment of medical subjects for the lay person. Home economics receives great attention by the addition of books on cooking, childcare, home decoration, and gardening. Interest in business administration is met by books on management and office practice with special attention paid to books for the small businessperson. Titles on automotive maintenance and repair are heavily purchased. Other areas singled out for new acquisitions include pet care, building, carpentry, engineering, and agriculture.


700s — The Arts

Certain subject areas are collected heavily in the arts as this is the third most popular category in the nonfiction classification. Materials on handicrafts, interior decoration, and sports receive special emphasis. Only art books intended for the lay person are selected for subjects such as architecture, sculpture, artists and their works, and photography. Art history and criticism for all periods and countries is acquired if it is written for the non-specialist. The section on music and the performing arts includes works on composition, orchestration, musicians, performers, musical instruments, collections of popular songs, and the history of music and the performing arts. Sheet music will not be collected. Music in audiovisual formats may be collected as resources allow. Individual subjects within this area will be covered as demand dictates.


800s — Literature

The collection in literature emphasizes critical studies and literary history and biography. The most important works of poetry, plays, essays, and other literary forms, including those of contemporary writers, are included. American literature receives the most extensive coverage, including minor as well as major works and their authors, but English literature is also heavily collected. The history of literatures of other countries and classics and other distinguished works of foreign authors in English translation are collected as demand dictates.

900s — History and Travel

The library collects works on the history of all areas and all periods. Heavy emphasis is placed on American history. The history of Europe also receives major emphasis. Items are chosen for the non-specialist lay person to meet informational needs as well as for the student needing supplemental educational materials. Travel books and guides are selected for all areas of the world to meet three basic needs: to help people making plans for travel; to provide current, up-to-date information about different countries and different cultures; and to provide reading material for the “armchair” traveler.



The collection is a basic representation, world-wide in scope, of lives of people whose acts, accomplishments, or thoughts have influenced civilization, with special emphasis given to collecting the biographies of Americans. Collective biography will be chosen to supplement rather than duplicate individual biographies.



Because of its nature, fiction offers an almost limitless variety of styles, subjects, types, levels of writing ability, command of language, etc. Fiction, more than any other category, should reflect local reading interests and the specific enrichment needs of the library’s patrons. Fiction titles by American, British, and other English language authors are acquired. Other languages are represented, selectively, in translation. Works of current, popular authors, best sellers, and genre fiction are acquired on the basis of local reading tastes.


Materials for the Visually Impaired:

The library feels a responsibility to make available to those with impaired eyesight a collection of large print books and materials in audiovisual formats so that they may continue an enjoyment of reading. The collection consists of fiction and non-fiction titles. In nearly all instances, titles selected for the large print collection are duplicates of titles available in regular print. To ensure the widest possible use of these materials, titles are rotated on a regular basis between the branch libraries and the main library.


Reference Collection:

The York County Library reference collection is selected and maintained to meet two basic goals: to provide answers to specific questions of any informational or educational nature from patrons’ in-person or telephoned requests; and to provide back-up reference assistance to York County Branch Libraries and the Bookmobile.

The materials in the reference collection will include, but not be limited to, the following types of publications:

  • Encyclopedias, almanacs, atlases

  • Handbooks, dictionaries, and directories in all fields of knowledge

  • Current and retrospective bibliographies and lists of “best books”

  • Indexes covering material already owned or being acquired in areas of potential patron interest; these indexes may also help to identify material which could be borrowed from other libraries

  • Computerized databases which are identified as filling an immediate need for information or which may respond to areas of potential patron interest

  • Books in high demand in the circulating collection that may be duplicated in reference; i.e., GED tests, resumes, Armed Forces test guides, etc.


Areas of special emphasis within the reference collection are literature, biography, health, business, history, and current information about South Carolina.


South Carolina Collection:

The main library houses the collection of local, regional, and state historical materials, the genealogy collection, and the collection of materials on the Catawba Indians. Because of the strong interest in York County in local history and genealogy, the York County Library will continue to build and maintain this collection. Costs, space requirements, and staff expertise dictate that this collection be centered at the Headquarters Library. The branch libraries will have very basic state, regional, and local history materials; their genealogical holdings will consist of general “how to find your ancestor” publications.


The local and regional historical materials include printed books and manuscript materials such as maps, reports, biographical sketches, newspaper clippings, and photographs pertaining to the region and its people. The Rock Hill newspaper is indexed on-line for material of historical importance and local current events. The genealogical collection includes print, manuscript, and microfilmed materials and electronic reference resources. Census records for all of South Carolina and parts of North Carolina, family histories, and church and cemetery records are included in this collection.


Secondary but important coverage is given to the State of South Carolina. County and family histories are acquired that are of value as genealogical and historical records. The Library is not a depository for Federal or State documents or publications and will acquire only very selective materials in this area.


The library will attempt to make as many of these materials available to the public as possible, either in print or online formats. However, the library reserves the authority to limit accessibility due to the fragility of materials, loss mitigation, and copyright limitations.

Young Adult Collection:

A collection of books, paperbacks, and magazines is maintained for middle school through senior high school students (ages 13 and up) with awareness of the variety of interests, backgrounds, reading skills, and development levels within this age group. This book collection is overwhelmingly fiction selected for recreational reading with emphasis on quality and critically acclaimed materials as demonstrated in awards and specialized bibliographies. The non-fiction titles in the collection are on subjects that meet the particular developmental needs of youth at different stages — such as dating, careers, and drugs — as well as titles of contemporary interest to this age group.


Titles in the Children’s and Adult collections may be duplicated in the Young Adult section when they are especially suited to this age.


Paperbacks are a format that has a special appeal to teens; therefore, a current circulating collection of popular and classic titles will be maintained. Paperbacks may include some duplication of hardcover titles in the Young Adult and Adult collections. The periodicals are teen oriented titles. The reference needs of young adults are to be met by the Adult Reference collection.


Juvenile Collection:

Literature for children is an integral part of all literature. It is judged by the same selection criteria used in choosing adult material. Format is an essential element in most children’s books. Paper should be high quality, print very legible, binding sturdy, and illustrations appropriate to the text. Content and format should synchronize so that both are suitable for the age group for which the book is written.


Fiction is provided for a wide range of interest and reading abilities including picture books, easy-to-read books, and stories for children. The kinds of tutorial-type textbooks used for the teaching of reading in the school systems are generally not acquired by the public library. Well written books of imaginative fiction and those which authentically portray a period, incident, or way of life are selected despite the occasional use of a questionable word or illustration, provided the total impact of the book meets other basic criteria.


Juvenile non-fiction is purchased that is accurate, informative, and up-to-date and selected in as wide a range of reading levels and interests as possible. Recommended books for children on sex and reproduction are not excluded because of the subject matter. Award-winning children’s titles are selected as a standard procedure.

Juvenile Language Collection:

The Juvenile Language Collection is designed to provide educational and recreational materials to the non-English-speaking children of York County, and to supplement local school curriculums. Individuals speaking English as a second language will also find materials in this collection useful as supplemental resources. The collection includes a variety of quality children's fiction, nonfiction, and picture books in bi-lingual and/or foreign language editions. When appropriate, English and foreign language versions of the same title may be packaged together and circulated as a single unit.


Collection development will be based on the same criteria that are used on all other library materials. Juvenile language materials will be available in all library locations. Depending upon space limitations and the demand for the materials, they may be designated by special labeling and shelved in the general collection, or they may be shelved as a separate collection.


Early Childhood Teacher Resource Collection:

The Early Childhood Teacher Resource Collection is a special collection of materials and resources for childcare teachers and administrators or any adult working with children between the ages of 0 and 5. This Collection also supports educational initiatives, such as First Steps to School Readiness or Success by Six, designed to improve school readiness for children in their preschool years.


Included in this Collection are books and other materials dealing with child development as it relates to education, childcare administration, curriculum and activities, and other issues pertaining to this age group. Materials within the Collection will be selected using the same criteria that are used for all other library materials.


The Collection is located in the Children's Room of the Main Library. As space in this Collection becomes limited, older titles will be rotated to their proper Dewey Decimal location in the adult book collection.



Paperback books are considered for purchase for the following reasons: to acquire a title not available in hardcover; to provide inexpensive duplicate copies of a title; to save money for the purchase of other titles. Paperback gifts are accepted and added to the collection, cataloged or un-cataloged, according to the “Criteria for Selection” but allowing for a wider acceptance of ephemera than would be considered for purchase.


Juvenile and Young Adult paperbacks receive brief cataloging for ease in finding series titles and/or placing holds.

Periodicals and Newspapers:

Periodicals are acquired to supplement the book collection with current research information and for recreational reading. Priority is given to those titles which are indexed online. Regional and genealogical publications are acquired as needed even though they may not be indexed. Quality of writing, the suitability of the publication, and public demand are important criteria for the purchase of periodicals for adults, young adults, and children. Daily and weekly newspapers are purchased to provide local, regional, state, and national coverage.


Video Formats:

Video formats enhance two primary goals of the library: to provide informational resources to the public while recognizing the value of offering specific types of information in a visual format.


Feature-length movies and strictly entertainment-style videos are readily available throughout the County in commercial rental stores. The library, therefore, concentrates its efforts on developing a video collection of informational or “how to” subjects that are rarely represented in commercial stores. These subject areas include, but are not limited to, the following: health, self-help, and exercise; business topics; parenting; documentaries and history; hobbies, crafts, and gardening; travel; children’s topics; the arts; sports; consumer information; literature; and teenage topics.


Video formats are carefully selected for the collection. Titles chosen for purchase must meet several criteria including some, or all, of the following: have received favorable reviews; are likely to be in high demand; are in a standardized format; and have a rating no higher than PG. Specific titles or subjects requested by patrons are considered if they meet the above criteria.


Audio Formats:

Audio formats enhance two primary goals of the library: provide informational and recreational resources to the public while recognizing the value of offering these resources in an audio format.


The wide availability of devices for travel and in the home, and the continuing improvement of the performance of print materials in audio formats have created an increasingly diverse and growing demand for this section of the library collection. The major part of this collection is contemporary fiction. Non-fiction, foreign language, classic adult fiction, young adult and juvenile titles are, however, also represented in the collection.


Following the selection criteria of the book collection, audio formats are carefully selected for this collection. Audio materials must be in a standardized format. Abridged and unabridged titles may be purchased. No music titles are purchased. Specific titles or subjects requested by patrons are considered if they meet the selection criteria.

Electronic Formats:

Subscriptions to databases in electronic format and links to Internet websites present libraries another means of supplying educational, business, and recreational information and reading materials to their patrons. Electronic formats permit libraries to reach outside their walls and to be “open for service” at the convenience of their patrons when the physical facility is closed.


Information in online subscription databases and Internet resources may fill requests in the following fields: philosophy, religion, social sciences, languages, natural sciences, applied sciences, literature, history and biography.


The standards for print materials contained within the York County Library Collection Development Policy such as authority, scope, accuracy, readability, writing style, and currency apply to materials in electronic format as well. In addition, electronic formats must be easily searchable, graphically appealing, and accessible without special equipment and software. In addition to those Standards for print materials, online resources should also meet the following criteria:


  1. Authority: a reputable institution, organization or business stands behind the website.

  2. Accuracy: The resource is current and is updated regularly. The hosting agency is stable and has a commitment to maintaining the site.

  3. Graphics: The visual effects enhance the resource. The use of audio, video, and virtual reality modeling is appropriate to the subject.

  4. User friendly: Commands are clearly visible and understandable. Help information is available. Operators and search engine operations are explained in laymen’s terms. Organization of the site is logical and appropriate to the subject. Interactive features, such as forms, work and are valuable to the site. Information can easily be retrieved from the site through reading, printing, or e-mailing.

  5. Links to additional resources on the Internet should be appropriate to the topic and for general access in a public setting.


“E-book” formats may also be provided and should follow the same standards for choosing print materials but also be user-friendly per the definition above.

Reconsideration of Library Materials:

In recent years, many books and other materials have appeared that reflect points of view and lifestyles of segments of society that some might consider unorthodox. The library will attempt to include serious works which provide a picture of all aspects of life and which will help provide an understanding of social problems. The library approaches the selection process in a positive manner. It attempts to judge a work as a whole and not on its isolated parts. Accordingly, no serious work will be excluded solely because of frankness, illustrations, or language some individuals find objectionable.


There is a wide variation of criteria used by parents/guardians to determine suitable titles for their children to read. For this reason, the library takes the strong position that the parent/guardian assumes the final responsibility over the book his/her child borrows from the library. This responsibility is affirmed by the parent/guardian when he/she signs the registration form giving permission for the child to borrow books from the library.


Any concerned person of York County who feels an inappropriate item has been selected for the library’s collection may complete a Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials form to submit to the library director. Forms can be picked up at any branch location or emailed. Those requesting a form will be given a packet of materials that includes the York County Library Collection Development Policy, Library Bill of Rights, and Freedom to Read Statement for review.


To be considered for review, the material being submitted for reconsideration must be read/viewed/heard in full. All questions on the Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials form should be filled out, and the concerned person must use their own words to respond. (No copying and pasting from a website or blog, for example.)


Because of the timeline for response and the amount of staff time that goes into a thoughtful and well-considered reconsideration request, submissions are limited to one per individual per month. If a title has already been submitted and considered, the decision rendered will remain in place for three years.

Reconsideration Process:

  1. Upon receipt of the Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials form, the library director will appoint a committee of five professional and paraprofessional staff to review the request and the material in question and consider whether its selection follows the criteria stated in the collection policy.

  2. The committee will then submit a written report of its findings with recommendations for actions to the library director.

  3. Within 15 days, the library director will make a decision and send a letter to the concerned person who requested the reconsideration, stating the reasons for the decision.

  4. If the individual is not satisfied with the decision, a written appeal may be submitted within 10 business days to the Board of Trustees. 

  5. If the Board plans to address the appeal at their board meeting, the individual will be notified when and where the meeting will be held.

  6. The Board of Trustees reserves the right to limit the length of public comments to five minutes per individual.

  7. The concerned person will be notified in writing of the Board’s decision following their discussion of the appeal. The decision of the board is final.

Consortial and Interlibrary Loans:

Limited resources and the diverse interests of our users make it impossible to purchase everything that people want to read or need for research. A consortium and an interlibrary loan network make it possible to obtain books from the South Carolina State Library, other public and academic libraries in the State, and in the Southeastern region. Through the resources of the State Library and OCLC, the York County Library can receive locations throughout the United States where books requested by County residents may be obtained. New books, genealogy materials (except microfilmed Census records), children’s books, bestsellers, and reference books generally are not available on interlibrary loan. In addition, some libraries do not loan audiovisual materials.


Because of situations out of control of the York County Library, there may be a significant time delay from the time materials are requested until they are received. The library recognizes, however, that interlibrary loans are a right, not a privilege, for the residents of the County, and every effort will be made to obtain the requested material by the date it is needed. The library makes no charges for interlibrary loan to its patrons and absorbs any charges made by the lending library. Subject requests may also be made to the South Carolina State Library if sufficient depth of information to meet the patron’s needs does not exist locally.


The York County Library encourages and accepts gifts of books, pamphlets, periodicals, and the like with the understanding that the gifts are added to the collection only if they meet the same standards required of purchased materials. Gift materials not meeting those standards, those that are out-of-date, unneeded duplicates of items already owned, or those in a form/format unsuitable for library use are given to other organizations, sold, or discarded.


Gift items are integrated into the regular library collection in normal sequence, available to all library patrons, and otherwise handled as any other material belonging to the library. A letter for tax purposes may be given or sent to the donor if requested at the time the donation is made. The letter acknowledges receipt of the gift only; it does not set a value on the gift (see Appendix for a copy of the letter).


The York County Library maintains a very fine collection of local history and genealogical material at the Main Library. Donations of this type of material from county residents or interested people become a part of this special collection to ensure all such items are available in one location in the county system.


The library is not a museum and rarely accepts objects other than printed or manuscript material. The decision to accept materials other than printed or manuscript items rests with the Director of the York County Library. Except for temporary exhibit purposes, the library does not accept storage responsibility for historical documents or objects owned or controlled by groups or individuals.


Whenever a gift is no longer needed, it is disposed of in the same manner as material purchased. For historical documents that are no longer usable by the library, a reasonable attempt is made to return it to the original donor or a local historical society before the decision is made to discard the material.


Commemorative Donations:

The York County Library welcomes gifts of books or other appropriate materials given in memory of a deceased individual or in honor of an individual or group. Materials accepted must conform to the same criteria for selection as materials purchased with library funds. The donor may make a specific request for use of his/her contribution, but the selection will be left to the discretion of the library staff. If the person or group being honored or remembered has or had a specific field of interest, staff will attempt to order materials reflecting that interest if the interest area specified meets current library needs. A bookplate is placed in the front of each book given in memory or in honor of someone stating the name of the donor and the person or group being remembered. The library staff will complete the appropriate form, found in the Appendix, for memorials.

Collection Maintenance:

Systematic weeding is an integral part of the selection process which helps maintain the quality of the library’s collections. The same care, thought, and judgment is used in this process as in the original selection. There are many factors which figure in the weeding process: the relationship of the book to other books on the same subject; the money available for more satisfactory titles; consideration of the degree to which the library wants to represent older material on a particular subject; or the possible usefulness of the particular title to some special group in the County.


There are certain categories of books which are the most obvious candidates for weeding. There are the duplicates of titles, purchased when the book was in heavier demand and now no longer needed. Superseded editions of books may be replaced. Books that are in poor physical condition that are not suitable for repair or rebinding are candidates for being discarded. Unfortunately, there will be mistakes in selection — books which were judged to be of interest and use but which turned out to be shelf-sitters — which can be weeded. Books which have become obsolete in content, style, or theme are candidates for weeding. Finally, books which have declining or nonexistent use patterns are considered for weeding. Circulation figures must be used carefully, however, because there are titles which have attained a status of “classic” which may not circulate well but which must be a part of the library’s collection.


Weeding is done in all areas of the library’s collection, not just books. Careful, judgmental decisions are also made in the area of periodical holdings, electronic formats, and audiovisual materials. Unfortunately, space is also a factor when considering the length of time back issues of periodicals are kept. Physical condition plays a large part in determining the shelf life of audiovisual materials.


Rarely is a single criterion used to determine whether an item should be withdrawn from the library’s collection. These decisions are made on a combination of criteria and the librarian’s experience.


Rebinding and Mending:

In determining titles which should be sent to the bindery for repair, the following criteria are used:

  • Value and use of the title

  • Possibility of replacement

  • Physical condition including quality of paper, margins, illustrations, etc.

  • Cost of rebinding versus cost of replacement

  • Number of copies of the title available in the system or the consortium


In determining titles which should be considered for mending, the following criteria are used:

  • Value and the use of the title

  • Possibility of replacement

  • Cost of mending versus cost of replacement


While the library tries to have copies of all standard and important works, it does not attempt to replace each title withdrawn because of loss, damage, or wear. Decisions are based on the following criteria:

  • Demand for the specific item

  • Number of copies available in the system

  • Existing coverage, within the system, of the subject

  • Availability of newer and better materials on the subject

  • Price of replacement copy

Appendix I: Library Bill of Rights:

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 in 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 space 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 June 19, 1939, by the ALA Council.


Amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; February 2, 1961; June 27, 1967; January 23, 1980; inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996.

Appendix II: The Freedom to Read:

  1. It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those which are unorthodox or unpopular with the majority.

  2. Publishers, librarians and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation contained in the books they make available. It would conflict with the public interest for them to establish their own political, moral or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what books should be published or circulated.

  3. It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to determine the acceptability of a book on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.

  4. There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, or confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression.

  5. It is not in the public interest to force a reader to accept with any book the prejudgment of a label characterizing the book or author as subversive or dangerous.

  6. It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people’s freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large.

  7. It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians to give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing books that enrich the quality and diversity of thought and expression. By the exercise of this affirmative responsibility, bookmen can demonstrate that the answer to a bad book is a good one, the answer to a bad idea is a good one.


(Excerpts from a Joint Statement of the American Library Association and the Association of American Publishers.)


Adopted June 25, 1953, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee; amended January 28, 1972; January 16, 1991; July 12, 2000; June 30, 2004.

bottom of page