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. 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 unless your policy indicates otherwise
- Be prepared to explain the function of the resource
- Contact the Reconsideration Committee
- Communicate with the Board of Education or Library Board of Trustees
The following organizations are prepared to provide information and support during a challenge.
For Wisconsin Librarians and Teachers
For Librarians and Teachers nationally
- American Library Association: Office for Intellectual Freedom
- National Council of Teachers of English: Intellectual Freedom Center
- How to Respond to Challenges and Concerns about Library Resources (Including Working with the Media) (ALA)
- Conducting a Challenge Hearing (ALA)
- Rationales for Classroom Texts (from the National Council of Teachers of English)
See additional resources on our Education and Advocacy page