The Library Springfield-Greene County Library District Springfield, Missouri

The Role of the Library in the Community

The role of the Springfield-Greene County Library District is to actively provide for the educational, informational, recreational and cultural needs of the residents of Springfield and Greene County by selecting, acquiring, organizing, preserving and making available our materials and services.

We seek to foster an atmosphere of free inquiry and to provide information without bias or discrimination.

We cooperate with other agencies and institutions in an effort to enhance and expand public awareness and access to information.

We have the responsibility to uphold the principles of freedom of expression and the public's "right to know."

A Summary of Our Materials Selection Policy

The public library is the institution in our society which attempts to provide a diversity of viewpoints on a wide range of topics of interest, including political, social and religious ones--no matter how controversial or objectionable those ideas may be to some people. Because of this, the Springfield-Greene County Library District chooses materials representing different points of view, limited only by our selection criteria, budget, and the space in our facilities.

We support the Library Bill of Rights, and the Freedom to Read Statement in providing free and open access to our materials for all age groups. Children are not restricted to particular areas of the Library. Our staff does not monitor the materials that children choose. The responsibility for the reading or viewing choices of children rests entirely with parents or legal guardians.

In considering which materials to place in the Library, we will not automatically include or exclude an item based on any of the following criteria:

  • race, religion, nationality or political views of an author
  • frankness or coarseness of language
  • controversial nature of an item
  • endorsement or disapproval of an item by any individual or organization in the community

We judge each book or other type of material on the basis of its overall content or style, not by isolated or random portions.

How We Decide What to Buy

The Library's Collection Services Department is responsible for the selection of materials using the Materials Selection Policy. Other staff and customers can make suggestions for purchase. The Department consults various sources to determine the value of the material using the following criteria:

  • reviews from professional journals, popular magazines and newspapers
  • expressed or anticipated patron demand
  • timeliness or permanence of the material
  • quality, accuracy or authenticity of materials
  • inclusion of materials in a special bibliography or index
  • scope and depth of our present collection or the availability of materials at other libraries in the area
  • reputation or authority of the author or publisher
  • format and price of material as well as space available to house it
  • appropriateness to the interests and skills of the intended user

No single criterion is used to justify a purchase; materials selectors consider all the criteria in reaching a decision.

How You Can Have a Say

Suggestions and donations from people in the community are encouraged and are given serious consideration. We want to hear from you and will let you know whether or not we can buy or accept the material. All material added to our collection by suggestion or gift must meet the same criteria as ordinarily used in choosing items.

From time to time, a person may be concerned about a particular book or other material in the Library. If a person wants us to reconsider material that is in our collection, a Request For Reconsideration of Library Materials (pdf) form may be downloaded or requested from the staff at any branch library. This form should be filled out and either returned to the staff member or mailed to the Director of the Library. A written response from the Director will be sent within four to six weeks.

Summary of the Freedom to Read Statements

In the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution, the founders of our nation proclaimed certain fundamental freedoms to be essential to our form of government. Primary among these is the freedom of expression, specifically the right to publish diverse opinions and the right to unrestricted access to those opinions. As citizens committed to full and free use of all communications media and as professional persons responsible for making the content of those media accessible to all without prejudice, we, the undersigned, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of freedom of expression.

Through continuing judicial interpretations of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, full freedom of expression has been guaranteed. Every American who aspires to the success of our experiment in democracy--who has faith in the political and social integrity of free men--must stand firm on those Constitutional guarantees of essential rights. Such Americans can be expected to fulfill the responsibilities implicit in those 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.
  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.
  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.
  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.
  5. It is not in the public interest to force a reader to accept the prejudgment of a label characterizing any expression or its author as subversive or dangerous.
  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; and by the government whenever it seeks to reduce or deny public access to public information.
  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 full documents are available at the American Library Association website.

The 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
  4. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
  5. A person's right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background or views.
  6. Libraries that 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, June 27, 1967, and January 23, 1980, by the ALA Council; inclusion of "age" reaffirmed January 23, 1996.

For more information, contact the American Library Association.

Kids and the Library

Your child is the proud owner of a library card; a passport to an exciting world of adventure. With it, your child can journey to every country in this world -- and out-of-this-world, too. Your child can visit yesterday, today and tomorrow.

As parent or guardian, you are responsible for what your child reads, and for materials checked out on your child's library card. Being a library cardholder is an excellent chance for your child to learn about responsibility: How to choose what to read, making sure library materials are returned on time and paying fines when materials are overdue. We hope you become involved with your child's library experience; you'll find it rewarding for you and for your child.

Most juvenile materials check out for three weeks; multi-media CD-ROMS check out for two weeks and videos check out for seven days. Overdue fine is ten cents per item each day the Library is open. The maximum fine is one dollar for each juvenile item (except videos, which is three dollars.) Overdue fine on the Bookmobile is ten cents per item per week.

The Springfield-Greene County Library makes a broad selection of library materials and information available for everyone, including children and teenagers.

We have special areas for children and teens with materials that appeal to various ages and interests. We also offer a summer reading club, storytimes and other special programs for young people. Programs such as these help kids learn to enjoy libraries and use them for their information and entertainment needs.

Each library has its own selection and collection development policies. Criteria may include popular demand, diversity of the collection, available space and budget.

Our book selectors seek materials that will provide a broad range of viewpoints and subject matter. Consequently, while our collection has thousands of items families want, like and need, it also may have materials that some parents may find offensive to them or inappropriate for their children.

Libraries must meet the diverse needs of everyone in their community. They cannot overrule the rights and responsibilities of individuals by deciding who does or doesn't have access to library materials. Decisions about what materials are suitable for particular children should be made by the people who know them best -- their parents or guardians.

Children mature at different rates. They have different backgrounds and interests. And they have different reading levels and abilities. For instance, one parent may feel a particular library book is inappropriate for his daughter, while the same book may be a favorite of her classmate's family. These factors make it impossible for librarians to set any criteria for restricting use based on age alone. To do so would keep others who want and need materials from having access to them.

Like adults, children and teenagers have the right to seek and receive the information that they choose. It is the right and responsibility of parents to guide their own family's library use while allowing other parents to do the same.

Parents should discuss rules regarding library use with their children. If you are concerned they will not respect your wishes, it is your responsibility to visit the library with them.

Librarians are not authorized to act as parents. But they are happy to provide suggestions and guidance to parents and youngsters at any time.

Adapted from the ALA pamphlet Kids and Libraries: What You Should Know.