Well-intentioned individuals or groups occasionally question the inclusion of items in Library collections, displays, or the content of Library programs or services. This policy explains the Richards Memorial Library's commitment to providing open access to diverse information and describes the procedure that will be followed when a member of the Paxton community expresses a concern about the content of Library collections, programs, or services.
The Richards Memorial Library subscribes to the principles of intellectual freedom as stated in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution, the Library Bill of Rights and its relevant interpretations by the American Library Association Council, and the Freedom to Read Statement.
Collectively, these documents speak to:
The Library and Trustees recognize that individuals may object to Library materials, displays, programs, and services out of a genuine desire to safeguard the well-being of their fellow community members and for reasons arising from deeply held beliefs and opinions. However, we take the position that the risk of restricting access to information and ideas is greater than the risk of providing it, and that each person is capable of assessing information and making decisions for themself without undue interference from outside sources.
Library Practices in Support of Open inquiry and intellectual Freedom
As a community resource, the Richards Memorial Library is obligated to provide diverse resources and information to meet the varied needs of community members who have different backgrounds, experiences, beliefs, and world views. This includes providing material that opposes, as well as supports, particular beliefs, opinions, and viewpoints, including potentially controversial material, for the benefit of community members who wish to explore perspectives different from their own. The Library aims to support the growth and fulfillment of individuals in all aspects of their lives and therefore provides resources that meet needs for entertainment and leisure as well as for learning, growth, and edification.
The Library recognizes the right of Paxton community members to question Library materials, displays, programs, or services. Any individual or group seeking the reconsideration of an item in the Library's collections, or a Library program or service, may submit a Request for Reconsideration form to the Library Director. Upon receipt of the form, the Director will consult with Library staff, with the person submitting the request if needed, with the Board of Trustees, and with other relevant sources that may provide useful information in considering the request.
The Director will consider the nature and purpose of the item, program, or service itself; the Library's mission, goals, and policies; and American Library Association guidelines on intellectual freedom. The Director will make a timely decision regarding the request and will provide a written explanation of the reasons for the decision.
lf an individual is not satisfied with the Library Director's decision, they may appeal it in writing to the Board of Trustees. The Trustees will consider the appeal at their next regular meeting, or they may schedule an earlier meeting should circumstances present the need. lf Open Meeting Law or other circumstances prohibit the Board from meeting with sufficient speed when time is of the essence (i.e. an event is scheduled to happen), the Trustee Chair will consider the appeal. The decision of the Board of Trustees, or in extenuating circumstances, the Trustee Chair, will be final.
The Director and Trustees may take any of the following factors into account, as appropriate, in reconsidering an item, program, or service:
Factors that will not, in and of themselves, be considered appropriate reasons to remove an item from the collection or cancel a program or service include:
Evaluation of an item or program will be based on consideration of the item or presentation as a whole, not on selected individual sections. The Library will not alter or expurgate any individual section or sections of a work.
No item is to be removed from the shelf or be placed in a restricted-access status, and no program, display, or service is to be preemptively abridged, modified, or canceled, during the reconsideration process. No item in the collection is to be removed or restricted, and no program or service is to be canceled, because of a complaint except in accordance with this procedure. ltems that have become missing or lost but that are deemed to still be appropriate for the Library collection will be replaced.
The Library does not have control over the content of certain electronic collections, including those administered by the CWMARS consortium or the State of Massachusetts, or over materials that may be available through interlibrary loan from other libraries.
Approved by the Richards Memorial Library Trustees on February 7, 2023.