|An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
Labeling is the practice of describing
or designating library materials by affixing a prejudicial
segregating them by a prejudicial system. The St. Charles
Public Library District opposes this as a means of
predisposing people’s attitudes towards library
materials for the following reasons:
1. Labeling is an attempt to prejudice
attitudes and, as such, it is censor’s tool.
2. Some find it easy and even proper, according to their
ethics, to establish criteria for judging publications
as objectionable. However, injustice and ignorance rather
than justice and enlightenment result from such practices,
and the St. Charles Public Library District opposes the
establishment of such criteria.
3. Libraries do not advocate the ideas found in their
collections. The presence of books and other resources
in a library does not indicate endorsement of their contents
by the library.
A variety of private organizations promulgate rating
systems and/or review materials as a means of advising
either their members or the general public concerning
their opinions of the contents and suitability or appropriate
age for use of certain books, films, recordings, or other
materials. For the library to adopt or enforce any of
these private systems, to attach such ratings to library
materials, to include them in bibliographic records,
library catalogs, or other finding aids, or otherwise
to endorse them would violate the Library Bill of Rights.
While some attempts have been made to adopt these systems
into law, the constitutionality of such measures is extremely
questionable. If such legislation is passed which applies
within a library's jurisdiction, the library should seek
competent legal advice concerning its applicability to
Publishers, industry groups, and distributors
sometimes add ratings to material or include them as
part of their
packaging. Librarians should not endorse such practices.
However, removing or obliterating such ratings – if
placed there by or with permission of the copyright holder – could
constitute expurgation, which is also unacceptable.
The Board of Trustees of the St. Charles Public Library
District opposes efforts which aim at closing any path
to knowledge. This statement does not, however, exclude
the adoption of organizational schemes designed as directional
aids or to facilitate access to materials.
Statement adapted from ALA Statements on Labeling adopted
7/13/51. Amended 6/25/71; 7/1/81; 6/26/90, by the ALA