Collection Development Policy

Section I
The Materials Collection


The purpose of this policy is to give our material selectors guidance and principles for the many difficult value judgments they must make when evaluating, selecting and deselecting our library’s collections.  We intend for our public to use this document to understand how we try to anticipate which titles they'll want, how we weigh individual needs against the popular needs of the community, and how we decide which titles we will retain and which we will discard.  We refer to this policy when we respond to patron requests for library materials or title reconsiderations.

Philosophy and Principles

The St. Joseph County Public Library staff is dedicated to providing popular and important materials in all appropriate formats for the residents of our library district.  We recognize in our mission statement our role to provide materials for the information needs, current interests, and lifelong learning goals of our community.

For many years the St. Joseph County Public Library Board has placed a high priority on providing an adequate budget for the maintenance of our collections.  The Board has the ultimate responsibility for material selection and approves the Collection Development Policy. The Library Board, in turn, delegates to the Library Director the authority to interpret and guide the application of the selection policy. The Director assigns professional librarians qualified by education and experience to apply this policy in building and maintaining collections.

Our librarians and support staff all work as a team to select, acquire, catalog, process, shelve, circulate and maintain this collection.  We continually adapt our methods and assumptions based on publishing trends, feedback from our public, circulation and in-house use patterns of the materials, and advances in new technologies.

We select titles with the wants and needs of our public in mind.  These materials are promptly ordered in sufficient quantities to anticipate and meet demand.  As we state in our long-range plan, "We provide easy access to the most wanted and needed library materials of all types so you can reach your goals and satisfy your whims."

We are accountable to the total community and focus on the greater needs rather than the narrow interests.  As such, the St. Joseph County Public Library remains a popular materials library. We purchase items in demand for the educational, informational, and entertainment needs of our public within the financial constraints of our materials budget.

With few exceptions, we build and maintain an active collection rather than an archive.  We expect most of our materials to earn a place in our collection through usage.  With limited space, we withdraw items that do not circulate.

For materials beyond our scope, we maintain an Interlibrary Loan service or refer our public to the many excellent academic libraries in our county.

Overview of Our Library Collections

Through our Main Library, Branch Libraries and mobile collections we provide convenient access points to our collection for our patrons within our service area.  Each location has a collection to fit its role within the overall library system.

At our Main Library, we maintain our largest collections and house our special interest services.  The Main Library offers a broader and deeper range of materials than at our branches.  Through our hold and reserve system, Main serves as backup to the smaller branch collections.

In addition to multiple copies of current and popular print and non-print titles, we offer comprehensive collections of popular authors and balanced collections on popular topics.  We maintain a Classics Collection and retain New York Times and American Library Association Notable Books for at least ten years.  Our Magazine Collection is primarily a browsing collection, but it also complements our full-text Online Databases for non-academic and secondary school researchers.  We maintain the Reference Collection at Main to enable the Reference staff to answer questions as specified in the SJCPL Information Services Policy.

The materials collections at our branch locations fall into three categories based on the size of the community each serves.  At Francis Branch and Centre Branch, our area branches, we include a full range of current and popular print and non-print materials.  We retain active older works of popular authors and topics, and a Classics Collection selected with students and general readers in mind.  We have active Ready Reference Collections for the public and the staff.

At River Park Branch, Tutt Branch, LaSalle Branch, and Western Branch, our neighborhood branches, we include collections of current and popular materials.  With both the adult and children’s collections, we emphasize popular fiction and non-fiction hot topics.  We focus non-print collections on current favorites for all ages.  Older titles are retained if they are frequently used.  We select Classic Collections, primarily in paperback, mostly for students.  We have small Reference Collections for the public and the staff to answer basic reference questions and cover staff needs.  These may include encyclopedias and almanacs.

At North Liberty Branch and Lakeville Branch, our mini-branches, we provide collections that reflect popular fiction and non-fiction bestsellers, with some local interest titles and practical non-fiction titles.  Our non-print collections include only the most popular titles.  We have small Reference Collections to help the staff select materials, answer basic Reference questions and recommend books for patrons.

For our Local History collection we purchase and archive historical and genealogical resource materials that relate to Indiana, St. Joseph County, and the ethnic groups that have settled here.  In Local History we are a partial state depository site.

For our Special Services collection we purchase materials with practical uses for our various special needs communities including ESL resource materials.

Once again, the range and scope of all of our branches is augmented by our hold, reserve and delivery systems, transferring materials between locations on a patron’s request.


Our Service Points Are Not Just Our Bricks and Mortar Locations

We provide access to our collections through telephone service, Online Reference, home access to databases, and sometimes even taking our collections to a patron.

We provide telephone service to our patrons who may need quick answers from our Reference and Online collections.  Our librarians hold or reserve materials for telephone patrons.  We have also established Electronic Reference services in our public service departments to answer questions and provide information through e-mail and Live Reference Chat services.

We provide access to electronic resources such as the Internet and locally created and leased databases for patrons.  We design our Internet web pages to serve as portals as we organize and evaluate the resources of the World Wide Web for our patrons.  We select Online Databases to complement our materials collections or to fill gaps in free Internet resources.  Wherever possible, we provide access to these resources for our home users and at all of our library locations.

For individuals and groups of people who are unable to come to one of our buildings, we provide Homebound Delivery service of library materials.  The Special Services staff in the Adult Reading Center strongly supports and works closely with local literacy agencies by providing learning and teaching materials.  We provide mobile collections to introduce materials and programming to at-risk children.

A Note on Controversial Materials in Our Collections

Our collections reflect the diversity of opinions and cultures in our service area.  The Library Bill of Rights, the American Library Association statement which we support, states that the rights of an individual to the use of a library should not be denied or abridged because of age, race, religion, national origins or social or political views. An interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights, which was adopted by the American Library Association Council on June 30, 1972 and amended on July 1, 1986, is available upon request.  It states that the parent, and only the parent, may restrict a child from access to library materials and services.  The Library and its staff are not in loco parentis. We do not take the place of the parents.

The collection contains materials that express a wide variety of views and are not suitable for all ages and abilities. It is, therefore, the responsibility of parents to monitor what their children use from our collections.

Library personnel does not mark or identify controversial library materials to show approval or disapproval of the contents, and no item will be kept behind a desk except for the express purpose of protecting it from damage or theft.  The Library will designate no material, therefore, as harmful to minors. The responsibility for reading, listening to, viewing and using library materials and equipment rests with the parents or legal guardians.

Material Reconsideration

We recognize the right of patrons to question the inclusion of materials in the library collection.  We will give serious consideration to each patron’s opinion.  Patrons may seek to have the library remove materials from the collection or change the material’s location in our collection. 

Individuals who question library materials may state their opinion in writing on a form provided by the library.  The Head of Collection Development will consider the request for reconsideration and review the material in question with the Selection Committee.  The committee will decide if the material was properly selected, cataloged or made available.  The Head of Collection Development will reply to the patron in writing.

Patrons unhappy with a response may appeal the decision to the Library Director or the Library Board.  In the event that a patron appeals a reconsideration decision to the Board, as the library’s governing body, the board will make the final decision.


We gratefully accept donations of money or materials for our collections at any of our agencies.  The Library Board must formally accept any donations worth over $500.  We may choose to decline gifts or donations if the material does not meet our selection guidelines or current needs.  We accept the donations on behalf of our Friends of the Library Organization who sell the items that we do not add to our collections.  We retain or deselect donated items by the same criteria we use for our regularly selected materials.

We are happy to attach memorial gift plates to donated items but we reserve the right to approve the wording on them.

Section II
Print Materials


Our goal is to have the books and other print materials our public wants, when they want them. To accomplish this, we purchase multiple copies of books from high demand authors and on high demand topics. We establish title limits to ensure that we have resources to buy sufficient numbers of copies of the most popular books.  We order these books before their publication dates to ensure they are available when people want them.  We also purchase single copies of titles that we expect to circulate well.

We utilize patron requests and holds to anticipate demand for new titles and to identify after publication date any titles we miss.  We purchase most patron requests but may reject suggestions for titles that are too specialized for our collections.  Examples of titles we don’t generally purchase include graduate level research materials, textbooks, and most monographs of primary sources.  We may decline requests for expensive titles if the selector does not believe the title will be in demand.  We utilize Interlibrary Loan to fill any requests beyond our scope.

Adult Book Collections

We select the most popular and important fiction and non-fiction titles for our book collections. We purchase other fiction and non-fiction titles to fill patron need beyond the scope of our popular collections.  We always purchase Best Sellers, and strive to anticipate them. We select books based on the popularity of the authors or the subject matter, good reviews or the reputation of the publisher.

The adult book collection reflects the diversity of opinions and cultures in our service area. We purchase controversial books to provide balance to an issue, to provide critically acclaimed works, or when they are popular in the mainstream media.

We purchase non-circulating books for our reference collections and for our professional staff.  The reference collections are available for in-house patron use.

We purchase graphic novels for our adult collections, but librarians may choose to shelve them with their juvenile or teen collections.

Juvenile Book Collections

We select books for a child’s educational, informational and entertainment needs.  Our children’s collections represent the diversity of ethnic background and parenting styles found in our community.  We shelve books written for parents and caregivers on the Parent’s Shelf or in the adult non-fiction collection.  While we provide books for the educational needs of students, we do not buy textbooks or support specific curriculums.

We define children’s material as items written for eighth graders or younger.  These materials are available in the Children’s Department at Main and at our branches.  We offer Teen fiction titles for grades nine through twelve in the Magazines, Newspapers and Fiction Department. Branches may choose to display Teen titles in their children's areas or with their adult collections.

We purchase graphic novels for our juvenile collections, but librarians may choose to shelve them with their teen collections.

The Classics Collection and Notable Books

At the Main library, we maintain a large Classics Collection and purchase and retain New York Times and American Library Association Notable books.

The professional staff maintains a list of classics in adult fiction and non-fiction.  In the Children’s Services Department at Main and at the branches we maintain a classics collection of the Caldecott and Newbery Medal award winners.  We replace worn or lost copies of the classics and retain them regardless of demand.

We purchase all the titles on the annual New York Times and the American Library Association Notable Book lists, and retain them in the collection for a minimum of ten years regardless of usage. During this time we replace worn or lost copies, if they remain available.

We maintain Classics Collections at the area branches and neighborhood branches and purchase most of these titles in paperback.  The staffs at the mini-branches maintain smaller Classics Collections, mostly for students.

Other Language Collections

We select and maintain a collection of books in foreign languages based on demand from students, life long learners, immigrants, and native speakers.  These may be original works from authors writing in their native language or works translated from English. We will purchase non-fiction titles for native speakers in languages with larger constituencies, identified by demographic studies, high book circulation or in-house use.

Branch staff members select books in foreign languages based on demand. They deselect titles based on usage, condition and available shelf space.  Branch Heads may demonstrate demand through demographic studies of their neighborhood, high book circulation, or through patron requests.

Large Print Books

We select only fiction and non-fiction best sellers and the most popular classics for the large print collections at all of our locations.  We emphasize light fiction reading, and include popular authors in the Western, Romance, Mystery and General Fiction genres.  We retain large print books for as long as they are used and in good condition.

Government Documents

We are not a federal or state government depository library but may include such materials when our selectors see a need for them in our community.

Deselection and Replacement

Selectors are responsible for withdrawing unneeded titles their assigned collections.  In general, selectors should expect to withdraw an item for each item added to their collection.  Because we believe in dynamic, active collections, the size of these collections may only grow in relation to usage.  As usage increases, a collection may grow.  As circulation reduces, the size of the collection must shrink.

Selectors consider bibliographies such as Public Library Catalog and Fiction Catalog, circulation statistics, physical condition and currency when deselecting titles.  They withdraw and may replace shabby or damaged books.  They remove books with obsolete information from the shelves.

Selectors deselect paperbacks based on use, condition and available shelf space.  They keep paperback classics as long as they are in acceptable condition.  They may withdraw or retain book series together as a single title or may choose to specify a number of years that they will keep them.

Selectors replace heavily used titles if they are available from our vendors.

Section III



As with our print collections, our goal is to have the subscription materials our public wants, when they want them.  We select magazines, newspapers, databases, microfilm and ebooks for browsers and basic researchers.  We offer titles reflecting a range of opinions and viewpoints.  We will consider high or low subscription costs, available shelf space, circulation figures, and title availability when selecting our materials.  While our collections should be as diverse as our community, selectors may decline requests from narrow interest groups or researchers. We subscribe to controversial materials when they provide balance to an issue or when they are popular in the mainstream media.  We expect our collections to reflect the range of popular interests in our community.

Magazines and Newspapers

We select magazine and newspaper titles that have broad interest to browsers and basic researchers.  We offer popular local and national magazines reflecting a range of opinions and viewpoints.  We purchase multiple copies of current browsing magazines to meet walk up demand.  We purchase titles for basic research only when they are well used and only if they are not available through our full-text databases.

We purchase teen and juvenile magazines for entertainment and educational purposes.  We purchase comic books for our teen and juvenile collections based on their availability and age appropriate content.

We select magazines, newsletters, family newsletters, and journals for our Local History collection.  We purchase national and popular genealogy or history magazines and other titles that relate to Indiana or to the ethnic groups that have a large population in St. Joseph County.  We keep and or bind items depending on their significance and relevance to St. Joseph County and Indiana.

We select newspapers based on local interest and timely availability.


We select databases considering patron demand, ease of use, system requirements, and compatibility with currently owned titles, our other collections, and free Internet resources. Whenever possible, we purchase web-based databases that are accessible for the branches and our home-based cardholders.


We purchase national and local newspapers, census data, and local historical records on microfilm. We select microfilm based on expected or measured usage, local interest, and whether or not we have access to an index for the information.

Deselection and Replacement

We devise a collection development plan for each magazine and newspaper title at our agencies. Some titles we keep for five or ten years, while we may keep some newspapers for two or six months or a year.  Our staff should base collection development plans on in-house and circulation use statistics, whether titles appear in indexes, available shelf space and availability online or on microfilm.  We archive historical materials used by general researchers. In general, we do not replace lost or damaged magazines or newspapers, but we will replace microfilm.  As for databases, microfilm, and ebooks, we track their usage and retain subscriptions when they are well used by the public or the library staff.

Section IV

Non-Print Materials

Our goal is to have the non-print materials our public wants, when they want them.  We purchase multiple copies of non-print titles from high demand authors, artists, musicians and directors, and on high demand topics. We may purchase popular titles despite poor reviews.  We utilize media trends, patron requests, suggestions and holds to anticipate demand for new titles and to identify older titles for replacement.  We may deny patron requests for expensive items or titles for which we expect to have a small audience.  We purchase controversial materials to provide important information, to provide critically acclaimed works, or when they are popular in the mainstream media.

Visual Media

We maintain a visual media collection to meet the entertainment and informational needs of our patrons.  We purchase many copies of the most popular theatrical films before release date, based on expected demand.

We anticipate public demand by consulting review sources, bestseller charts, past demand for the artists, and announced advertising budgets.  We establish title limits for new items to enable us to purchase sufficient quantities of best selling movies.  We will purchase visual media in the most popular formats.

While we order non-fiction titles, the main focus of our visual media collections is on popular entertainment.  We purchase popular and educational juvenile titles.

Music and Spoken Word
We maintain a music collection that reflects the diverse interests of our citizens.  We select the most popular music titles based on expected chart position and the relative popularity of the artist.  We buy multiple copies of the most popular music titles.  We consult review sources, bestseller charts, and consider previous demand for an artist’s work and requests from the public when choosing titles.  We establish title limits for new items to enable us to purchase sufficient quantities of best selling music.

We select rock, country, urban, Latin, jazz, religious, folk, soundtracks, reggae, comedy/spoken word and oldies music based on the popularity of the artist or genre.  We select folk or international music to maintain titles from a wide variety of countries and cultures.  We select classical and opera titles based on the popularity of the conductor, orchestra, soloists, or composers.  We buy sound effects collections.  We purchase all adult music on CD but may purchase children's titles on audiocassette or CD.

Audio Books
We purchase best selling fiction and non-fiction audio books for both children and adults in all popular formats. We may choose abridged or unabridged titles, based on patron preference. We purchase language tapes and other educational titles. We consider the circulation record of the print version of a title when evaluating an audio book, although we may order items from popular authors and on popular subjects in advance of publication of the print version.  We purchase book and tape combinations for the juvenile audio collection and for Special Services.


We purchase circulating CD/ROM software for games, educational assistance, reference and “how-to” titles.  We purchase titles for both adults and children. We consider bestseller charts, industry advertising, patron suggestions and the past use of similar titles when purchasing software.  We replace CD/ROM software when upgrades are available or if they are damaged.


We purchase toys and realia for the educational and entertainment needs of our patrons.  While we include the toys in our Children’s Collections, our Special Services staff members select realia such as flash cards and other learning tools for the Special Services Collection.  Branch staff may elect not to maintain collections of toys if they have little demand for the items.

Criteria for Juvenile items include safety and health considerations.  We may choose to not select consumables or items needing replacement parts or batteries.

Art Prints

We include Art Prints in our Sights and Sounds Collection at our Main Library.  We select prints for their artistic qualities with an emphasis on reproductions of masterworks and popular themes.

Deselection and Replacement Guidelines

We deselect non-print materials based on circulation figures, condition, and available shelf space.  It is important when withdrawing titles for space that we maintain the diversity of our non-print collections.  We will replace high demand items, within budgetary limits.  Selectors may allot a percentage of their budget for replacements.

Section V


Updating This Document

As we strive to ensure that our collections are both current and relevant, we will continue to review and evaluate our collection development philosophy and policy.  We will conduct a formal review approximately every two years and revise this document to reflect changes in publishing trends, patron needs and professional library standards.

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 which 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 18, 1948.  Amended February 2, 1961, and January 23, 1980,  Inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996, by the ALA Council.

The Freedom to Read Statement

The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label “controversial” views, to distribute lists of “objectionable” books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as citizens devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.

Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy: that the ordinary citizen, by exercising critical judgment, will accept the good and reject the bad. The censors, public and private, assume that they should determine what is good and what is bad for their fellow citizens.

We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe. We do not believe they need the help of censors to assist them in this task. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be “protected” against what others think may be bad for them. We believe they still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression.

These efforts at suppression are related to a larger pattern of pressures being brought against education, the press, art and images, films, broadcast media, and the Internet. The problem is not only one of actual censorship. The shadow of fear cast by these pressures leads, we suspect, to an even larger voluntary curtailment of expression by those who seek to avoid controversy.

Such pressure toward conformity is perhaps natural to a time of accelerated change. And yet suppression is never more dangerous than in such a time of social tension. Freedom has given the United States the elasticity to endure strain. Freedom keeps open the path of novel and creative solutions, and enables change to come by choice. Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it the less able to deal with controversy and difference.

Now as always in our history, reading is among our greatest freedoms. The freedom to read and write is almost the only means for making generally available ideas or manners of expression that can initially command only a small audience. The written word is the natural medium for the new idea and the untried voice from which come the original contributions to social growth. It is essential to the extended discussion that serious thought requires, and to the accumulation of knowledge and ideas into organized collections.

We believe that free communication is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture. We believe that these pressures toward conformity present the danger of limiting the range and variety of inquiry and expression on which our democracy and our culture depend. We believe that every American community must jealously guard the freedom to publish and to circulate, in order to preserve its own freedom to read. We believe that publishers and librarians have a profound responsibility to give validity to that freedom to read by making it possible for the readers to choose freely from a variety of offerings. The freedom to read is guaranteed by the Constitution. Those with faith in free people will stand firm on these constitutional guarantees of essential rights and will exercise the responsibilities that accompany these rights.

We therefore affirm these propositions:
1.            It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox or unpopular with the majority.

Creative thought is by definition new, and what is new is different. The bearer of every new thought is a rebel until that idea is refined and tested. Totalitarian systems attempt to maintain themselves in power by the ruthless suppression of any concept that challenges the established orthodoxy. The power of a democratic system to adapt to change is vastly strengthened by the freedom of its citizens to choose widely from among conflicting opinions offered freely to them. To stifle every nonconformist idea at birth would mark the end of the democratic process. Furthermore, only through the constant activity of weighing and selecting can the democratic mind attain the strength demanded by times like these. We need to know not only what we believe but why we believe it.

2.            Publishers, librarians, and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation 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 should be published or circulated.

Publishers and librarians serve the educational process by helping to make available knowledge and ideas required for the growth of the mind and the increase of learning. They do not foster education by imposing as mentors the patterns of their own thought. The people should have the freedom to read and consider a broader range of ideas than those that may be held by any single librarian or publisher or government or church. It is wrong that what one can read should be confined to what another thinks proper.

3.            It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.

No art or literature can flourish if it is to be measured by the political views or private lives of its creators. No society of free people can flourish that draws up lists of writers to whom it will not listen, whatever they may have to say.

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

To some, much of modern expression is shocking. But is not much of life itself shocking? We cut off literature at the source if we prevent writers from dealing with the stuff of life. Parents and teachers have a responsibility to prepare the young to meet the diversity of experiences in life to which they will be exposed, as they have a responsibility to help them learn to think critically for themselves. These are affirmative responsibilities, not to be discharged simply by preventing them from reading works for which they are not yet prepared. In these matters values differ, and values cannot be legislated; nor can machinery be devised that will suit the demands of one group without limiting the freedom of others.

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

The ideal of labeling presupposes the existence of individuals or groups with wisdom to determine by authority what is good or bad for the citizen. It presupposes that individuals must be directed in making up their minds about the ideas they examine. But Americans do not need others to do their thinking for them.

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.

It is inevitable in the give and take of the democratic process that the political, the moral, or the aesthetic concepts of an individual or group will occasionally collide with those of another individual or group. In a free society individuals are free to determine for themselves what they wish to read, and each group is free to determine what it will recommend to its freely associated members. But no group has the right to take the law into its own hands, and to impose its own concept of politics or morality upon other members of a democratic society. Freedom is no freedom if it is accorded only to the accepted and the inoffensive.

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, they can demonstrate that the answer to a “bad” book is a good one, the answer to a “bad” idea is a good one.

The freedom to read is of little consequence when the reader cannot obtain matter fit for that reader’s purpose. What is needed is not only the absence of restraint, but the positive provision of opportunity for the people to read the best that has been thought and said. Books are the major channel by which the intellectual inheritance is handed down, and the principal means of its testing and growth. The defense of the freedom to read requires of all publishers and librarians the utmost of their faculties, and deserves of all citizens the fullest of their support.

We state these propositions neither lightly nor as easy generalizations. We here stake out a lofty claim for the value of the written word. We do so because we believe that it is possessed of enormous variety and usefulness, worthy of cherishing and keeping free. We realize that the application of these propositions may mean the dissemination of ideas and manners of expression that are repugnant to many persons. We do not state these propositions in the comfortable belief that what people read is unimportant. We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.
This statement was originally issued in May of 1953 by the Westchester Conference of the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council, which in 1970 consolidated with the American Educational Publishers Institute to become the Association of American Publishers.

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