Library Policy Manual

Table of Contents

Library Hours Policy

Outreach Services

Electronic Resources Policy

Special Collections

Confidentiality of Library Records

Library Conduct

Meeting Room Usage Policy

Community Bulletin Board Guidelines

Unattended Children and Child Safety

American Library Association Statements

 FOIA Procedures and Guidelines

Library Hours Policy

1.Library Hours Open to the Public

1.1 Main Library

Monday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Tuesday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Wednesday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

2. System-wide Holiday Closures

2.1 Holiday closures

New Year’s Day (January 1)

Good Friday (One half day)

Memorial Day (Last Monday in May)

Independence Day (July 4)

Labor Day (First Monday in September)

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Observance (Day after Thanksgiving)

Christmas Eve (December 24)

Christmas Day (December 25)

New Year’s Eve (December 31)

2.2 There may be other days as required throughout the year.

3. Emergency and Weather Closures

3.1 When conditions warrant the Library Director has the authority to close the library.

3.1.1 Such conditions might include severe weather, failure of library utilities, or any event that renders basic library services impossible for an extended period.

3.1.2 Announcement of closing will be made through the library’s website and posted on all entrances.

3.2 In the event of an emergency closure due dates for items will be extended and fines forgiven until the library is able to reopen.

Outreach Services

1. Group Presentations and Services

1.1. Library Director makes PowerPoint presentations to civic organizations upon request.

2. Services to Other Libraries

2.1. Interlibrary loan services

2.1.1. Services are provided to other libraries that are part of the loaning network.

2.1.2. Items check out for three weeks in most cases.

2.2. Services to other libraries or organizations

2.2.1. Services are available, provided staff and budget allows.

2.2.2. Special services must be approved by the Library Director.

Electronic Resources Policy

1. Library Catalog

1.1. Access to Portage Lake District Library catalog is provided three ways:

1.1.1. Through computers dedicated to the catalog at each location.

1.1.2. Through the library’s website at library Access.

1.1.3. Through the mobile OS app, BookMyne.

1.2. Access to the catalog is available to all patrons.

1.3. There is no charge for using the catalog.

1.4. From the catalog users with valid library cards and PIN (personal identification number) may:

1.4.1. Place a hold on an item.

1.4.2. Access their account to renew items, to view items checked-out, and view items on hold.

2. Library Website

2.1. provides access to the library catalog, online databases, and information about services offered.

2.2. The website is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

3. Public-use Computers

3.1. Computer Use

3.1.1. There is no charge for computer use for library card-holders or non-library card-holders. Printing costs 10¢ per page.

3.1.2. Computer use is on a first come/first use basis.

3.1.3. Computer time is limited to two (2) sessions per day system wide, with a maximum of 60 minutes per session.

3.1.4. Children’s Computers

• These computers are reserved for youth use (those 12 years of age or younger).

• Computer use is on a first come/first use basis.

• Reservations are not available for the Children’s Room’s computers.

3.1.5. Michigan Room Computer

• This computer is reserved for users of the room’s resources to conduct local history and genealogy research and Foundation Grant research.

• Anyone using these computers must be doing related research or with someone doing research.

• Computer use is on a first come/first use basis.

• Reservations are available for the Michigan Room’s computer.

4. Internet Access

4.1. Portage Lake District Library will make the resources available on the Internet accessible to all patrons.

4.2. Patrons 17 years of age or younger are not allowed at the adult work station. The Library does not monitor, and has no control over, the information accessed through the Internet and cannot be responsible for its content.

4.2.1. Library users should cast a cautious and critical eye on any and all data they discover.

4.2.2. The job of the library is access, not endorsement.

4.2.3. Filters are placed on all computers

• Parameters for Internet filters are provided by the software supplier not by the library. Software vendors are evaluated on an annual basis to ensure that the software continues to meet the needs of the community.

• Because of the ever-changing, expansive, and unmonitored growth of the Internet, Portage Lake District Library is unable to guarantee the reliability of filtering software.

• Patrons may find that some desired sites are blocked while some unwanted sites are displayed. This is due to the limitations of the filtering software.

• Adult patrons, 18 years of age and older, may ask to have the filters turned off during their time on the internet.

4.2.4. In utilizing the resources of the library, including the Internet, patrons are expected to be both law-abiding and civil.

4.2.5. Unacceptable use of the library’s resources may result in loss of library privileges or appropriate legal action.

5. Expectation of Privacy

5.1. There is no expectation of privacy or security on the Internet.

5.2. Staff encourages patrons to be diligent, careful, and suspicious when providing personal information on any website.

6. Wireless Internet Access

6.1. Wireless access to the Internet is also available throughout the district library.

6.2. Library policies concerning “Internet Access” and “Expectation of Privacy” also apply to wireless users.

6.3. Failure to adhere to these rules may result in the loss of wireless privileges.

7.Rules for Computer Use

7.1. To maintain the integrity and security of the library computer system patrons may not install other software, re-configure the software, change settings on any computer, or exit the software to initiate commands from the any of the Window’s set-up programs or the DOS command prompt.

7.2. Software is copyrighted, including any programs resident on the hard drive. It is a violation of copyright to copy software for any purpose.

7.3. Any work saved must be saved to a removable storage device.

7.3.1. The library is not responsible for any work saved to the hard disk.

7.4. The staff is available to answer basic software questions such as how to start a program, how to save a file, how to print a document, etc.

7.4.1. More in-depth questions will be answered as time allows.

7.4.2. There are reference books available for use, please ask at the Reference Desk.

7.4.3. Patrons who have never used a computer before should plan to spend two hours learning the basics and an additional two hours producing a document.

7.5. Please be aware of the time and complete all file saving and/or printing before the end of the time reserved.

7.6. Failure to adhere to these rules will result in the loss of computer privileges.

Special Collections

1. Reference

1.1. Specialized informational materials used to answer specific needs.

1.2. These materials are open to the public.

1.3. The collection is library use only but some items may be checked out.

1.4. Patrons may make black and white photocopies for .15c a copy from Reference materials.

2. Michigan Room (for Genealogy and Local History)

2.1. Genealogical collection contains materials dealing with family histories from Houghton County, and surrounding area.

2.2. Local History collections contains materials dealing with the history of the area.

2.3. We have a dedicated computer set aside for genealogy research and patrons can access Heritage Quest on our computer. Additionally, we have Polk Directories.

2.4. Some materials in this room may not be photocopied.

2.5. Most of these materials are open to the public.

2.6. Most items can be checked out. Copies designated with an “R” on the spine label are catalogued not to be checked out. Several items have multiple copies with one designated as Reference allowing patrons to check out these items, while still keeping a copy on our shelf.

3. Michigan History

3.1. A collection of materials dealing with Michigan history, government, travel, and other areas of interest about the area.

3.2. The collections can be found in Reference, Michigan Room, and the Non-Fiction collections.

3.3. Items in the Non-Fiction collection are available to check out.

4. Equipment

4.1. Portage Lake District Library provides limited use of some equipment.

4.2. All equipment is library use only and may not be removed from any library building.

Confidentiality of Library Records

1. Confidentiality Statement

1.1. Protecting the rights of library users to view and read materials without fear of intrusion, intimidation, or reprisal is the core value for libraries. To safeguard the privacy of individuals, Portage Lake District Library maintains the confidentiality of library records.

1.2. Library registration and circulation records are confidential.

1.2.1. Registration records include any information, such as address, telephone number, ID number, that users provide in order to access or borrow materials (including email address if provided).

1.2.2. Circulation records include all information that identifies a person as borrowing or accessing particular materials or information. Included in these records is Web browsing histories, reserve materials, and items checked out.

2. Library Law

2.1. Portage Lake District Library follows Michigan Library law. Certain public records exempted from inspection except on order of court) concerning privacy of library user records.

“The following public records are excluded from the application of Michigan Library confidentiality law and shall be subject to inspection only upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction: (a) public records containing information of a personal nature where the public disclosure thereof would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

3. Disclosure of Information

3.1. Staff is not allowed to reveal information to anyone other than the cardholder unless one of the following actions is taken:

3.1.1. Prior permission is given to allow family members or other friends to pick up materials or access the account.

3.1.2. The library card is given to the person who will access the account. (Possession of a library card implies consent to provide information on the account, unless the staff member has information to indicate that possession of the card was wrongfully obtained.)

3.1.3. A properly executed court order is received by the Library Director.

3.2. For juveniles 17 years old or younger:

3.2.1. Parent or guardian may be provided information of checked out materials if the primary purpose is to pay fines or recover missing materials.

3.2.2. Parent or guardian may present the juvenile’s library card for access.

3.2.3. Parent or guardian may access the juvenile’s account through the library’s website with the appropriate patron card number and PIN (personal identification number).

4. Patron Record Retention

4.1. Portage Lake District Library retains the following information on patrons.

4.1.1. Name, address, telephone number, birth date, ID number, and county of residence. For juveniles, the previous information and parent/guardian’s signature.

4.1.2. If provided by patron, email address and pin number.

4.1.3. Items currently checked out on an account. (Once returned and removed from an individual account, an electronic link is created to the last person who checked out a specific item which is replaced as soon as someone else checks out the item).

4.1.4. Overdue history, this includes the title information on any item that was returned beyond the due date.

4.1.5. Fine history, this includes the title information on any item that was assessed an overdue, billing, or damaged fine.

4.1.6. Canceled hold/reserve information, this includes the title information on a hold that was placed then canceled for any reason.

4.1.7. Informational messages created by staff members and placed on an account.

4.1.8. Any hold/reserve item where the patron opted for retention.

4.2. Interlibrary Loan request history

4.3. Reading History

4.3.1. The Library does not retain lists of items checked out by individuals other than items currently on an account.

Library Code of Conduct

1. Introduction

The Portage Lake District Library is open for specific and designated civic, educational and cultural uses, including reading, studying, writing, participating in scheduled Library programs, and using Library materials. In order to provide resources and services to all people who visit the Library facilities in an atmosphere of courtesy, respect, and excellent service, the Library Board of Trustees has adopted this Code of Conduct Policy. The purpose of the Library Code of Conduct Policy is to assist the Library in fulfilling its mission as a community resource enriching life, stimulating intellectual curiosity, fostering literacy, and encouraging an informed citizenry.

The following rules of conduct shall apply to all buildings – interior and exterior – and all grounds controlled and operated by the Library and to all persons entering in or on the premises, unless otherwise specified.

2. Rules for a Safe Environment

2.1. Violations of Law. Committing or attempting to commit an activity in violation of federal, state, or local law, ordinance or regulation (including but not limited to assault, larceny, or vandalism) is prohibited.

2.2. Weapons. Carrying guns, pistols or other weapons, except as specifically permitted and exempt from local regulation by law, is prohibited.

2.3 Alcohol; Drugs. Possessing, selling, distributing, or consuming any alcoholic or intoxicating beverage, illegal drug, or drug paraphernalia is prohibited.

2.4. Under the Influence. Persons noticeably under the influence of any controlled substance or alcoholic or intoxicating liquor are not allowed on Library property.

2.5. Use of Library Buildings and Grounds.

2.5.1. Use of skateboards, rollerblades, roller skates, or other wheeled form of recreational equipment is not allowed in the Library or on Library premises.

2.5.2. Library patrons must park bicycles or other vehicles only in authorized areas.

2.5.3. All doors and entrances must remain obstacle-free.

2.5.4. Animals or personal transport vehicles are not permitted in the Library other than those required by persons with disabilities, those used in law enforcement or for Library programming.

2.5.5. Smoking or chewing tobacco inside Library facilities is prohibited. Smoking is also prohibited within 20 feet of the building entrances. Smokers must use exterior ashtrays and refrain from littering with cigarette butts.

2.5.6. Shirts and shoes are required for health reasons and must be worn at all times inside the Library and on Library property.

2.5.7. The use of incendiary devices, such as candles, matches, and lighters, is prohibited inside the Library.

2.5.8. Patrons shall not be permitted in any areas designated as “staff only” unless otherwise permitted by the Library Director.

2.5.9. School groups using the Library must have approval of the Library Director and must have a teacher and other appropriate staff present to ensure that the students use the Library in conformance with these rules.

2.5.10. Patrons may not use the Library’s telephone unless approved by Library staff.

3. Rules for Personal Behavior.

3.1. Personal Property. Personal property brought into the Library is subject to the following:

3.1.1. The Library personnel may limit the number of parcels carried into the Library.

3.1.2. The Library is not responsible for personal belongings left unattended.

3.1.3. The Library does not guarantee storage for personal property.

3.1.4. Personal possessions must not take up seating or space if needed by others.

3.2. Food and Beverages. Food is prohibited inside of the Library building except when offered in connection with a Library sponsored or co-sponsored program.

3.3. Unauthorized Use. Patrons must leave the Library promptly at closing time. Further, any patron whose privileges to use the Library have been denied may not enter the Library. Any patron whose privileges have been limited may not use the Library in any manner that conflicts with those limits placed on the patron by the Director, his or her designee, or the Library Board.

3.4. Engaging in Proper Library Activities. Patrons shall be engaged in activities associated with the use of the Library while in the building. Patrons not engaged in reading, studying, writing, participating in scheduled Library programs, and using Library materials shall be required to leave the building.

3.5. Considerate Use. The following behavior is prohibited in the Library and in the Library Building.

3.5.1. Spitting;

3.5.2. Running;

3.5.3. Putting feet or legs on furniture;

3.5.4. Using obscene or threatening language or gestures.

3.6. Panhandling or Soliciting. Panhandling or soliciting Library staff or patrons for money, products, or services inside the Library or on Library property is prohibited. Sales of products or services that are incidental to Library programming may be permitted if approved in advance by the Library Director.

3.7. Interference with Staff. Patrons may not interfere with the staff’s performance of duties in the Library or on Library property. This includes engaging in conversation or behavior that monopolizes or forces the attention of staff for an inappropriate period of time, inappropriate personal comments, sexual advances, or physical and/or verbal harassment.

3.8. Campaigning and Similar Activities. Campaigning, petitioning, interviewing, survey-taking, pamphleteering, and canvassing are prohibited in the Library building. However, persons conducting these activities outside the building but on Library property shall not block ingress and egress to the Library building.

3.9. Sales. Selling merchandise on Library property without prior permission from the Director is prohibited.

3.10. Distributions; Postings. Distributing or posting printed materials/literature on Library property not in accordance with Library policy is prohibited.

3.11. Restrooms. Misuse of restrooms, including laundering, sleeping, shaving, hair cutting or trimming, bathing, and sexual activity is prohibited.

3.12. Harassment. Staring, photographing, following, stalking, harassing, arguing with, threatening, or behaving in a manner which can reasonably be expected to disturb Library users or staff while in the Library or on Library property so that it interferes with the Library patrons’ use of the Library or the ability of the staff person to do his or her job is prohibited.

3.13. Loud Noise. Producing or allowing any loud, unreasonable, or disturbing noises that interfere with other patrons’ use of the Library or which can be reasonably expected to disturb other persons or have the intent of annoying other persons, including yelling, cheering, talking (with others or in monologues) or noises from electronic, entertainment, and communication devices, such as cell phones, headphones, and radio, is prohibited.

3.14. Odor. Offensive odor, including but not limited to body odor due to poor personal hygiene, overpowering perfume, or cologne that causes a nuisance is prohibited.

3.15. Cell Phones. Speaking on a cell phone is prohibited in the Library. Those patrons desiring to make phone calls must use the foyer or go outside of the Library buildings. Cell phones shall be placed on silent or vibrate mode upon entering the Library.

3.16. Library Policies. Patrons must adhere to all Library Policies including.

4. Rules for the Use and Preservation of Library Materials and Property.

4.1. Care of Library Property. Patrons must not deface, vandalize, damage or improperly remove Library materials, equipment, furniture, or buildings. Patrons shall be responsible to reimburse the Library for cost incurred by the Library for violating this provision.

4.2. Internet Use. Patrons must abide by established time limitations and all other provisions of the Library Internet Use Policy.

4.3. Equipment. Library phones and staff computers are for staff use only.

4.4. Authorized Lending. Library materials may only be removed from premises with authorization through established lending procedures.

4.5. Restrooms. Library materials may not be taken into restrooms.

5. Disciplinary Process for Library Facilities.

The Library Director or the Director’s designee may restrict access to Library facilities with immediate dismissal of the patron from the premises, by suspending the patron’s access to Library facilities for a set period of time, or by denying access to specific services and/or programs pursuant to this Policy. If necessary, the local police may be called to intervene.

5.1. Incident Reports. Library Staff shall record in writing in the form of an Incident Report any violation of this Policy that resulted in a verbal warning or a suspension of Library privileges. By the end of the day on which the incident occurred, an Incident Report shall be written and forwarded to the Library Director for logging and review. The report should include physical descriptions in addition to the name of the patron. A copy of the suspension of privileges letter should be attached, if applicable.

5.2. Violation of the Policy – Suspension of Privileges. Unless otherwise provided in this policy, (see Section 5.3 below), the Library shall handle violations as follows:

5.2.1. Initial Violation: Library patrons observed violating this policy will be asked to cease the violation with a verbal request. If the patron does not comply with the request, he or she will be asked to leave the building for the day. If he or she refuses, police may be called.

5.2.2. Subsequent Violations: The Director or the Director’s authorized designee may further limit or revoke the patron’s Library privileges if infractions continue. Such limitation or revocation shall be in writing specifying the nature of the violation. Subsequent violations of the same rule shall result in additional suspensions of increasing length.

5.3. Violations that Affect Safety and Security. Violations involving verbal abuse, violence, threatening behaviors, sexual harassment, vandalism, drug sale or use or attempted drug sale or use, intoxication, theft or attempted theft, physical harassment, sexual misconduct or any behavior that threatens the safety and security of staff and/or patrons shall be handled as follows:

5.3.1. Initial Violation: The police will be called immediately. If the conduct constitutes a violation of local, state, or federal law, arrest or criminal prosecution may ensue. Violations of this nature will result in an immediate minimum two-week suspension of Library privileges. The Incident Report shall specify the nature of the violation.

5.3.2. Subsequent Violations: The police will be called immediately. If the conduct constitutes a violation of local, state, or federal law, arrest or criminal prosecution may ensue. The Director or the Director’s authorized designee, may further limit or revoke the patron’s Library privileges in escalating responses, which will be documented in writing. Subsequent violations of the same rule will result in additional suspensions of increasing length.

5.4. Reinstatement. The patron whose privileges have been limited or revoked shall attend a meeting with the Director or the Director’s designee to review the Library Patron Behavior Policy before their privileges may be reinstated.

6. Right of Appeal.

Patrons may appeal a decision to limit or revoke privileges by sending a written appeal to the Library Board within 10 business days of the date the privileges were revoked or limited. The appeal should be sent to the President of the Library Board. The decision of the Library Board is final.

7. Conduct

7.1. Disorderly conduct

7.1.1. Conduct that causes public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm, or wantonly creates a risk will not be tolerated.

7.1.2. Anyone creating a hazardous or physically offensive condition will be asked to leave the library; appropriate authorities will be called as necessary.

7.1.3. Photography

Commercial photographers are requested to notify the library‘s Director before filming or taking photographs.

7.1.4. Personal Belongings. Patrons shall take responsibility for their own personal belongings. The library is not responsible for private property.

8. Incident

8.1. Damage, injury, and other such occurrences should be promptly reported to library staff and may be reported to the appropriate authorities.

8.2. Incidents to be reported include, but not limited to:

8.2.1. Damage to building interior/exterior.

8.2.2. Damage to furniture or equipment.

8.2.3. Patron accident/injury.

8.2.4. Staff accident/injury.

8.2.5. Theft of library property.

8.2.6. Equipment failure.

9. Lost and Found

9.1. The library maintains a “lost and found” section at the Front Desk of each location.

9.2. After 30 days all unclaimed items will be discarded or donated.

10. Personal Electronic Equipment

10.1. The use of personal electronic equipment is permitted in the library on a limited basis (see also Cell Phone Use Policy).

10.2. Sound must be turned off or earphones used and turned low enough that others cannot hear.

10.3. Violation of this policy will result in one of the following:

10.3.1. The item must be turned off.

10.3.2. The patron must leave the building.

10.3.3. The item will be confiscated until the user exits the building.

11. Test Proctoring

11.1. The library provides proctoring services for a nominal fee of $25.

11.2. See Library Administration to schedule a test.

13. Tours

13.1. Tours of library buildings are available.

13.2. Tours may be tailored to meet the needs of each group.

13.3. All tours should be scheduled at least one (1) business day in advance.

14. Use of Supplies

14.1. Patrons are encouraged to provide their own supplies.

14.2. The library provides limited use of office supplies and small office equipment.

14.3. Blank paper is available for five cents a sheet.

Community Bulletin Board Guidelines

1. Community Bulletin Board

1.1. Portage Lake District Library provides a space for posting information of interest to the community.

1.2. Each location provides a “Community Bulletin Board” dedicated to posting handouts and fliers from individuals and community organizations, as well as advertising PLDL events or information.

2. Guidelines for Posting

2.1. Announcements and advertisements from individuals, for-profit-groups and not-for-profit groups, will be accepted.

2.2. Anyone wishing to post an item must submit it for approval to a Front Desk library staff member.

2.3. Items that are obscene, defamatory, or slanderous in any way will not be accepted. The library reserves the right to refuse postings.

2.4. Items may be posted up to 14 days before an event.

2.5. All items will be removed after the scheduled event, after 30 days, or as space allows.

2.6 Postings may be no larger than an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper.

3. Questions

3.1. Questions about these guidelines should be addressed to the Community Relations Coordinator

Unattended Children and Youth Safety

1. Responsibility

1.1. The Library strives to make its environment welcoming and accessible to children and as safe as possible. However, staff are not able to supervise unattended children.

1.2. The Library is not responsible for unattended children.

1.3. It is the Library’s policy to report suspected neglect or abuse. Library employees who know or have reasonable cause to believe a youth is neglected or abused shall immediately, at minimum, create a written report to be filed.

1.4. Library privileges may be curtailed when an unattended youth is repeatedly left in the Library’s care after closing.


2. Definitions

2.1. For the purposes of this policy, the following definitions shall apply:

2.1.1. A “child” is considered to be anyone who is 8 years of age or younger.

2.1.2. A “youth” is considered to be anyone who is 17 years of age or younger.

2.1.3. A youth is considered to be “unattended” when a caregiver cannot be located or contacted.

2.1.4. A “disruptive” child is one whose actions disturb others, damage items belonging to the Library or to others, or is unable to be redirected by the youth’s caregiver.

2.1.5. A “caregiver” must be at least 14 years of age.


3. Disruptive Behavior, Neglect, or Abuse

3.1. If a youth is disruptive:

3.1.1. Library staff will communicate with the youth’s caretaker or the contact person indicated on the youth’s application card.

3.1.2. If the caretaker cannot be found or the contact person cannot be reached, the staff will call the police department to report cases of unattended or disruptive youth.


4. Unattended Youths

4.1. Children 8 years of age or younger

4.1.1. The library requires that caregivers of children 8 years of age or younger stay within line of sight of the child.

4.1.2. Caregivers may not leave children 8 years of age or younger unattended in the children’s areas while using other areas of the library.

4.2. Youths aged 9 through 17 years of age

4.2.1. May use the library unattended for any length of time as long as the youth’s conduct is acceptable in a library setting and general conduct rules are observed (See Behavior Policy).

4.3. People of any age with special needs which require supervision necessary, shall be accompanied by a caregiver.


5. Library Response to Youth Left Unattended

5.1. If a child is found without a parent or caregiver, the staff will:

5.1.1. Attempt to comfort the child, if necessary.

5.1.2. Locate the parent or caregiver in the Library and explain the Youth Safety Policy.

5.1.3. Make every effort to contact the parent or caregiver who is not in the Library to come and pick up the child.

5.1.4. If the parent or caregiver cannot be located within 30 minutes, staff will contact local law enforcement.

5.2. If a youth is left at the Library after closing:

5.2.1. For youth under the age of 17

          • Two staff members will remain with the youth while attempting to locate the youth’s parent or caregiver.
          • If the parent or caregiver cannot be reached, law enforcement officials will be called.
          • Staff will leave when directed by law enforcement.

5.2.3. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES will library staff transport or take youth away from the library building.

American Library Association Statements

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.

Adopted as operating policy of Portage Lake District Library 2004

Librarian’s Code of Ethics

Code of Ethics

I. We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.

II. We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.

III. We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.

IV. We recognize and respect intellectual property rights.

V. We treat coworkers and other colleagues with respect, fairness and good faith, and advocate conditions of employment that safeguard the rights and welfare of all employees of our institutions.

VI. We do not advance private interests at the expense of library users, colleagues, or our employing institutions.

VII. We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representations of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources.

VIII. We strive for excellence in the profession by maintaining and enhancing our own knowledge and skills, by encouraging the professional development of coworkers, and by fostering the aspirations of potential members of the profession.

ALA 1995

Adopted as operating policy of Portage Lake District Library [date], 2004

Freedom to Read


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 books from sale, to censor textbooks, to label “controversial” books, 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 the use of books and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating them, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.

We are deeply concerned about these attempts at suppression. Most such attempts 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 to reject it. 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.

We are aware, of course, that books are not alone in being subjected to efforts at suppression. We are aware that these efforts are related to a larger pattern of pressures being brought against education, the press, films, radio and television. 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 uneasy change and pervading fear. Especially when so many of our apprehensions are directed against an ideology, the expression of a dissident idea becomes a thing feared in itself, and we tend to move against it as against a hostile deed, with suppression.

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 stress.

Now as always in our history, books are among our greatest instruments of freedom. They are almost the only means for making generally available ideas or manners of expression that can initially command only a small audience. They are the natural medium for the new idea and the untried voice from which come the original contributions to social growth. They are essential to the extended discussion which 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 towards 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 which 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 which 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 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.

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 determine the acceptability of a book on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.

A book should be judged as a book. 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 which 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 literature 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 taste differs, and taste cannot be legislated; nor can machinery be devised which 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 book the prejudgment of a label characterizing the book or 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 expended on the trivial; it is frustrated 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 their freedom and integrity, and the enlargement of their service to society, 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 books. We do so because we believe that they are good, 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, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee.

Adopted as operating policy of Portage Lake District Library [date], 2004

A Joint Statement by:

American Library Association

Association of American Publishers

Subsequently Endorsed by:

American Booksellers Association

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression

American Civil Liberties Union

American Federation of Teachers AFL-CIO

Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith

Association of American University Presses

Children’s Book Council

Freedom to Read Foundation

International Reading Association

Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression

National Association of College Stores

National Council of Teachers of English

P.E.N. – American Center

People for the American Way

Periodical and Book Association of America

Sex Information and Education Council of the U.S.

Society of Professional Journalists

Women’s National Book Association

YWCA of the U.S.A.