Freedom To Read Statement

Freedom to read is essential to our democracy. This is recognized as the power of individuals to choose whatever they desire to read. It is in this multipolarity that our democracy gains its strength.

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.

WHEREAS, Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Library Association has adopted the Library Bill of Rights as the basic policy statement in support of the rights of individuals to have freedom of choice in their reading materials and related services:

NOW THEREFORE, in view of the vast importance of this principle, the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Library Association further affirms the following propositions:

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.

The power of a democratic system to change is vastly strengthened by the freedom of its citizens to choose widely from among conflicting opinions offered freely to them. Publishers, librarians, and booksellers serve the educational process by making available knowledge and ideas required for the growth of the mind and the increase in learning; however, an endorsement of every idea of presentation contained in the materials is not to be assumed. 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 in the public interest that a book should be judged as a book; therefore, publishers and librarians are not to determine acceptability of a book solely on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author. Art and literature cannot flourish if they are measured by the political views or private lives or its creators, and the society of free individuals cannot tolerate the banning of writers.

It is in the public interest to resist efforts to coerce the taste in reading materials of others and to avoid inhibiting writers from achieving artistic expression. 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 and are not to be discharged simply by preventing the young from reading works for which they are not yet prepared.

It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to refrain from categorizing any book or author so as to force a prejudgment of ideals upon the reader.

Individuals of a democratic society are not to be directed in forming an opinion of the ideas they examine.

  1. It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to assume the responsibility to be guardians of the people’s freedom to read and to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large. Individuals are free to determine what they wish to read. Each group is free to determine what it will recommend to its freely associated members; however, no group has the right to impose its own concept of politics or morality upon individuals or groups.
  2. It is the affirmative responsibility of publishers and librarians to give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing books and materials that enrich the quality and diversity of thought and expression.

The best demonstration of this responsibility 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.

AND FURTHERMORE, Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Library Association attaches a priceless value to all reading materials and sincerely accepts these propositions as neither lightly stated nor made as easy generalizations. The administration and operation of this library system will tenaciously uphold the freedom to read as herein stated and do so because we believe in the goodness, enormous variety and usefulness of books. These doctrines are worthy of cherishing and the American people shall always have the freedom to read.

Approved by Board of Trustees
April 16, 1987