The goal of the public library is to serve the total community, by providing free and open access to the ideas and information available on all subjects and in all media. The library shall select and make available materials for the enlightenment, cultural development, and the enjoyment of its public at all ages and levels of ability and interest.
The public library is the institution in our society which provides materials representing all points of view in all fields, including political, social, and religious, no matter how controversial, or how objectionable these ideas may be to some people. In a democratic society, individuals should feel free to explore any and all ideas in order to decide which are meaningful to them. The library, therefore, will include representative materials espousing divergent and unusual points of view.
The materials selected shall be developed to serve the library district most effectively. Consideration will be given to materials which may be of interest to a few patrons as well as those of interest to many patrons. The individual branch library shall try to meet the general needs of most of the people in its immediate community. The headquarters library shall have collections of greater depth, to serve the library district with specialized materials needed less frequently or by fewer people. Under a cooperative program, the library shall obtain, through interlibrary loan, materials owned by other libraries.
How the Library Selects Some Materials and Not Others
Ideally, all publications and all media should be available to everyone. Because the library is limited in its ability to purchase materials by its budget, the library has established qualitative standards. Librarians shall evaluate materials on the basis of recommendations from accepted professional and commercial review sources, bibliographies, and other professional selection tools. Part of the library’s purpose is to eliminate economic barriers to information and media, not to compete with other providers, such as video/DVD rental stores, or special and academic libraries, nor to duplicate their function in the same market.
Non-fiction selection is based on these criteria: significance of subject matter, accuracy, scope, presentation of informative point of view, current interest or relevance, acceptable format, and effectiveness of presentation.
Videos, compact discs, and other audio-visual materials are selected for artistic and technical quality and for the value of the content for individual and group appreciation and discussion. Materials are included which are representative of current trends in technique, that have been critically acclaimed, and that have significant permanent value.
Similar standards apply to materials selected primarily for children. Basic materials are chosen which help to develop literary and artistic appreciation in young readers. Media which treat social and human problems are selected for all levels of readers’ understanding.
Special consideration is given to materials which meet the needs and interests of young adults as adolescents, as students, and as mature readers.
Materials are purchased which are of value to patrons with limited reading ability or limited vision. ANY medium or format is considered if it helps to inform or to improve communication.
The library accepts gifts, with the understanding that the librarians will choose those materials which meet the library’s needs and the general standard of selection. Gifts of money, including memorial gifts, for the purchase of materials, are encouraged.
FREEDOM TO READ, SEE, AND HEAR
It is essential, in a free society, for all citizens to have access to all library materials. Therefore, no restrictions are placed on what anyone may read, see, or hear in the collection of the Henderson District Public Libraries. Well-intentioned persons or groups occasionally question one or another items in library collections. Although we understand and appreciate their fears and doubts about the effects of materials on an impressionable person, we take the position that the risk of not providing access to information and ideas is greater than the risk of providing it.
Sometimes suggestions are made regarding the restriction or removal of certain library materials, and we, therefore, wish to enunciate the following principles:
Controversial Materials. In an effort to provide our patrons with diverse sources of information and the widest possible range of ideas and viewpoints, we acquire some controversial materials. Some of this material may be offensive to individuals or groups because of perceived profanity, social, economic, and political ideas, religious viewpoints, the background of the author, the kinds of information provided or other reasons. Acquisition or use of any item does not imply approval or endorsement of the contents. Indeed, it cannot, since such a variety of ideas are collected. We do believe it is essential to provide such materials if the American ideal of freedom is to be retained.
Ratings. Some organizations have voluntarily applied content ratings to materials, notably music and motion pictures. Some users, particularly parents, may find these ratings helpful in selecting materials appropriate for their own or their children’s use. However, the library does not restrict materials from any user due to its rating, nor does the library use content rating as a basis for materials selection. The criteria for selection of rated materials are the same as that for any other material, as previously described.
Age. Judges, legislators, educators, and others are giving increasing recognition to the fact that children and young adults need access to all the information and ideas about the world they live in. Therefore, anyone, of any age, may have the use of any item in the library, and is not to have that privilege limited by any staff member. If parents wish to deny their children access to certain materials, they must take the responsibility themselves.
Labeling. It is sometimes suggested that a label be affixed to library materials indicating than an item is questionable or controversial. Such labeling suggests that Americans are incapable of making up their own minds, and this practice is contrary to the notion of the free marketplace of ideas. We do not subscribe to this practice.
We are willing to re-examine our position on any item in the library’s collection. In order to deal with objections, a procedure has been established. No item will be removed or restricted, because of a complaint, except in accordance with this procedure.
REVIEW OF LIBRARY MATERIALS
If citizens have concerns about a particular item in the library, they may request a Statement of Concern about Library Resources. The librarian will review the completed Statement and report back to the patron. Appeals may be addressed to the Board of Trustees.
Board of Trustees
Adopted April 1990
Revision approved by HDPL Board of Trustees
____Ann Small______________ ___Oct. 24, 2002__________
Board Chair Date
Upon signature of this policy statement by the Chair of the Board of Trustees, this document becomes official HDPL policy. This document is to be filed at the HDPL Administrative Office at Paseo Verde Library, 280 S. Green Valley Pkwy., Henderson, NV 89012.