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[NYLINE] Happy 75th anniversary of the Library Bill of Rights!

June 19, 2014

Happy 75th anniversary of the Library Bill of Rights!

Today we are pleased to commemorate the75th anniversaryof ALA’s adoption of theLibrary Bill of Rightson June 19, 1939 at the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco. The document – which is the basis for the work of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom – was created in the wake of several incidents of banning The Grapes of Wrathby John Steinbeck in the late 1930s. It also was inspired by the rising tide of totalitarianism around the world.



The first iteration of the Library Bill of Rights was a statement by the head of the Des Moines, Iowa, Public Library, Forrest Spaulding. It was adopted as policy by that library on November 21, 1938. Much of the wording remained the same for ALA’s version, although it was more universal.


Since its initial adoption, the Library Bill of Rights has been amended four times. There are alsoover 20 official interpretationson issues ranging from Meeting Rooms to Labeling and Ratings Systems. Many of these interpretations have Q&As associated with them to assist library boards and administrators adapt the policies to their specific circumstances.

To honor the Library Bill of Rights, take some time to read it and consider its meaning and relevance lo these many decades later. And if you’re on social media, share this post!

Jonathan Kelley

Program Officer

Office for Intellectual Freedom

American Library Association

50 E. Huron St.

Chicago, IL 60611

As the Library Bill of Rights celebrates its birthday, read in the Handbook for Library Trustees of New York State (2010 edition) the current Document as reaffirmed in 1996 by the ALA Council.


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.

I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

II. 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.

III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.

V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

VI. Libraries that make exhibit spaces 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.