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Suggested Steps to Take
When Materials Are Challenged

When an intellectual freedom issue arises, it can be difficult to know how to respond. Each situation a librarian or educator may find themselves in possesses a variety of factors that influence the appropriate protocol. Therefore, rather than assembling a concrete list of dos and don'ts, the suggested steps below are guidelines for maintaining clarity and control in a situation when materials are challenged. These recommendations come from the American Library Association (ALA), the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, and the CCBC.

Immediate Steps to Take

  • Review your institution's selection policy, including the selection criteria and the reconsideration process
  • Assess what steps have been taken in the reconsideration process and what steps are to be taken
  • Review the complaint
  • Discuss the situation with your administrator
  • Review your profession's policy statements
  • Gather resources (such as copies of reviews, information on awards and best-of-the-year list distinctions for the title. If you are a Wisconsin teacher or librarian, the CCBC Intellectual Freedom Information Services can assist you with this)
  • Read or re-read the title in question

Additional Steps to Take

Note: These steps may vary, depending on what your policy says and what has happened so far.

  • Maintain the material in the collection for the time being
  • Be prepared to explain the function of the resource
  • Contact the Reconsideration Committee
  • Communicate with the Board of Education or Library Board of Trustees

Challenge Support

The following organizations are prepared to provide information and support during a challenge.

For Wisconsin Librarians and Teachers:

  • CCBC: Intellectual Freedom Information Services
  • For Librarians and Teachers nationally:

  • American Library Association: Office for Intellectual Freedom
  • National Council of Teachers of English: Intellectual Freedom Center
  • Helpful Links:

  • How to Respond to Challenges and Concerns about Library Resources (Including Working with the Media) (ALA)
  • Conducting a Challenge Hearing (ALA)
  • Dealing with Challenges to Graphic Novels (ALA)
  • Rationales for Teaching Challenged Books (from the National Council of Teachers of English)

  • See additional links on our Education and Advocacy Groups page



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